Defensive tackle Jalyn Holmes
Weight: 283 pounds
Hometown: Norfolk, Va.
College: Ohio State
Drafted: 102nd overall, as the sixth of seven Buckeyes players selected in this year’s NFL Draft.
Current jersey: No. 92
What we’ve learned
Months before Holmes became a Viking, he cornered the future Browns quarterback. During the Senior Bowl, Holmes and Buckeyes teammate Tyquan Lewis wanted Baker Mayfield to answer for planting a Sooners flag at midfield of “The Shoe” in Columbus. So they approached him while on a bus carrying North players. “Just walked up to him and asked him what was his problem,” Holmes said. “It was all good. We laughed it off. We’ve been cool since then.” Holmes added: “I was kind of serious. Me and Tyquan, we weren’t playing. We charged into the game and we kept it friendly after that a little bit.”
Moving inside to DT
When Holmes, an Ohio State defensive end, was asked to play some defensive tackle before his junior season, his coaches asked him to study tape of former Buckeyes like Joey Bosa and Adolphus Washington doing the same. Two years later, the Vikings are asking Holmes to make the full-time transition to the inside. “We still think he’s got a lot of raw, untapped potential,” head coach Mike Zimmer said.
Holmes was the last of five Buckeyes defenders drafted last month. It reflects the deep Ohio State front in which he rotated, a factor in the former four-star recruit having just five sacks in college. Now Holmes is one of the latest swings by a Vikings coaching staff trying to get a deeper defensive line rotation in Minnesota. “You get new, fresh legs to rush the quarterback,” Holmes said. “You constantly got to be rushing the quarterback. If we can do that in Minnesota, that would really help us.”
What we’re watching for
Inside pass rush
Throughout a dominant 2017 season by the Vikings defense, one lagging area was getting pressure in the face of quarterbacks. The Vikings want more push up the middle, which is why the front office signed Sheldon Richardson to a one-year, $8 million deal and drafted Holmes to pair with another fourth-round DT in Jaleel Johnson. All three are effectively newcomers in 2018 (after Johnson played sparingly as a rookie) and will need to fill the void. If Holmes can make an early impact in the rotation, it’ll likely be as a pass rusher.
The Vikings have 1,059 snaps to replace between the free-agent losses of Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen, who both bolstered one of the league’s best run defenses in 2017. The four DTs heading into this season will likely be Linval Joseph, Richardson, Jaleel Johnson and Holmes. Can Holmes earn snaps in that mix? Or will the Vikings again rely on Brian Robison, who turned 35 last month, to play inside?