Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Vikings position-by-position snapshot: Defensive line

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: May 1, 2014 - 8:30 AM

There has been a lot of change at Winter Park over the past few months and more to come. New coaching staff. New weight program. New meeting room. New players. New quarterback?

One of the spots with the most change has been the defensive line, where the Vikings could have at least three new starters. Defensive cornerstones Jared Allen and Kevin Williams are gone, and youngsters Sharrif Floyd and Everson Griffen are expected to step up and replace the two of them. They also gave Linval Joseph a big contract to be their new man mountain in the middle.

Those moves, along with the signing of Corey Wooten and the re-signing of Fred Evans, gives new coach Mike Zimmer a capable rotation to work with. But that doesn’t mean the Vikings won’t address the defensive tackle and end positions in the draft, maybe as early as Round 1.

Zimmer liked to roll through his defensive linemen during his time with the Cincinnati Bengals, sometimes so frequent it looked like he was running hockey line changes. Of course, having a lot of talented big men on the roster allows you do to that. The Vikings aren’t quite there yet.

This draft class is loaded at many spots, and both defensive line positions are no exceptions.

South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney is widely considered to be the top player in the draft and one of the top pass-rushing prospects of this generation. Aaron Donald of Pittsburgh and Ra’Shede Hageman of Minnesota are one of a bunch of tackles who could go in the first round.

There are also intriguing options in the later rounds who have both have talent and question marks, so count on the Vikings picking at least one defensive lineman with their eight picks.

PROJECTED STARTERS: From left to right on the line, Brian Robison, Joseph, Floyd and Griffen.

DON’T FORGET ABOUT: Chase Baker may never become a starter, but the 300-pound nose tackle who was signed as a rookie free agent in 2012 could develop into a player that is trusted to play a dozen or so snaps a game. He showed that against the Seattle Seahawks last season.

LEVEL OF NEED: Moderate. The Vikings have a starting four in place and serviceable backups in Wooten and Evans, so taking one early may be a luxury pick, albeit one at a premium position.

FIVE PROSPECTS TO REMEMBER: Donald, Hageman, Auburn defensive end Dee Ford, North Carolina defensive end Kareem Martin and Concordia defensive end Zach Moore.

OUR BEST GUESS: Unless Zimmer bangs the table for Donald, who is drawing comparisons to Bengals All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins, the Vikings will address one of their needs at No. 8 overall. But they could be on the lookout for an end, a tackle or both later in the draft weekend.

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Chicago WSox 1 Top 3rd Inning
NY Yankees 1
Tampa Bay 1 Bottom 3rd Inning
Toronto 2
Detroit 1 Bottom 2nd Inning
Minnesota 7
Seattle 0 Bottom 1st Inning
Boston 1
Baltimore - B. Norris 1:20 PM
Chicago Cubs - K. Hendricks
San Francisco - T. Lincecum 3:05 PM
Washington - J. Zimmermann
Houston - C. McHugh 6:05 PM
Cleveland - D. Salazar
St. Louis - S. Miller 6:05 PM
Philadelphia - D. Buchanan
Atlanta - E. Santana 6:10 PM
Cincinnati - M. Leake
Pittsburgh - E. Volquez 6:10 PM
Milwaukee - W. Peralta
San Diego - A. Cashner 7:10 PM
Arizona - V. Nuno
Miami - T. Koehler 7:10 PM
Colorado - J. Lyles
Detroit - J. Verlander 7:10 PM
Minnesota - T. May
Kansas City - J. Guthrie 7:25 PM
Texas - N. Tepesch
LA Angels - C. Wilson 8:05 PM
Oakland - J. Lester
NY Mets - J. deGrom 8:10 PM
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke
Tampa Bay 3:30 PM
Buffalo
Tennessee 6:00 PM
Atlanta
Dallas 6:00 PM
Miami
Washington 6:30 PM
Baltimore
New Orleans 7:00 PM
Indianapolis
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Kansas City
St. Louis 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Houston 8:00 PM
Denver
San Diego 8/24/14 3:00 PM
San Francisco
Cincinnati 8/24/14 7:00 PM
Arizona
Atlanta 8/28/14 5:00 PM
Jacksonville
Detroit 8/28/14 6:00 PM
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Cleveland
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Tennessee
San Francisco 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 8/28/14 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Oakland
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 8/28/14 6:00 PM
ULM
Boise State 8/28/14 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
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Houston
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
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UCF 8/30/14 7:30 AM
Penn State
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
Oklahoma State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
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(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
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Toronto 3:00 PM
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Montreal
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Hamilton
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Indiana 4:00 PM
Washington
Minnesota 6:00 PM
San Antonio
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pm
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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