Minnesota Vikings Roster Projection (Defense/Special Teams)

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The 2022 NFL season is just a few months away, and before we know it football will be back among the 32 teams in the league. With the start of the new year continuing to near and the NFL Draft behind us, projections for the teams in the NFL have begun. The Minnesota Vikings, led by a new general manager and head coach this season, will field a relatively similar roster in 2022, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

Before off-season camps commence, let’s take a look at the early projections and predictions for who could fill out the defense and special teams units for the purple and gold this season.

Minnesota Vikings 2022 Defense and Special Teams Roster Projection

Defensive End

Danielle Hunter, Za’Darius Smith, Harrison Phillips, Dalvin Tomlinson, Armon Watts, D.J. Wonnum, Esezi Otomewo, Patrick Jones, Jaylen Twyman, Janarius Robinson

Danielle Hunter, if he stays healthy, will be the top returning player on the defensive line for the Vikings this season. That is, granted he can actually take the field for a full year. Over the last two seasons, Hunter has played in just seven games while missing the entirety of the 2020 campaign with an injury. If he can stay healthy, he is without a doubt still a star at his position.

Za’Darius Smith will make his debut in Minnesota in 2022 after leaving rival Green Bay Packers to join the Vikings as a free agent. The veteran Pro Bowler, who missed nearly all of the 2021 season with an injury, will certainly boost the defensive line in Minnesota this season.

D.J. Wonnum stepped into more of a starting role in his sophomore season in 2021, playing in all 17 games and starting in 14 of those contests. Wonnum stepped up in an expanded role, tallying career-high marks in tackles (47), tackles for loss (seven), quarterback hits (15), and sacks (eight).

Patrick Jones could be poised for an expanded role in his second season in the NFL in 2022, having played in nine games as a rookie a year ago. During his first season in the league, Jones finished with seven tackles and four solo tackles.

Janarius Robinson is another player who didn’t see any time on the field on the defensive line in his rookie season in 2021 but could emerge as a role player in 2022. Robinson was selected in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft out of Florida State.

Defensive Tackle

Harrison Phillips was another off-season acquisition for the Vikings, joining Minnesota after playing his first four seasons with the Buffalo Bills. Phillips tallied career-high marks in tackles (51), quarterback hits (six), and sacks (one) in 2021.

Dalvin Tomlinson has been as steady as they come for the Vikings, playing in 16 games in his first season in Minnesota last year. Tomlinson will once again help the defensive line after totaling 39 tackles, seven quarterback hits, one fumble recovery, and 2.5 sacks in 2021.

Armon Watts saw more of an expanded role in his third season in the NFL in 2021, playing in all 17 games and starting in a career-best nine games for the Vikings. Watts had a career-high 46 tackles, 10 quarterback hits, three tackles for loss, and five sacks for Minnesota last year.

Esezi Otomewo will serve as more of a backup option in Minnesota during his rookie campaign this year after he was drafted in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Otomewo, who played his college ball at Minnesota, could develop into a useful piece with the Vikings as the season progresses.

Jaylen Twyman didn’t see the field during his rookie season in 2021 but could be a useful player for Minnesota in his second year. A sixth-round pick in 2021, Twyman is a productive player when healthy dating back to his collegiate days at Pittsburgh.


Eric Kendricks, Jordan Hicks, Brian Asamoah, Troy Dye

Eric Kendricks will once again be the top linebacker on the depth chart this season and he has continued to progress into a budding star in the NFL. Entering his eighth season in the league in 2022, Kendricks appeared in 15 games for Minnesota last year, recording a career-high 153 tackles with eight tackles for loss, five quarterback hits, two interceptions, one fumble recovery, and five sacks.

Jordan Hicks was one of the key free agent signings for the Vikings this off-season, leaving Arizona to join Minnesota. In 2021, the veteran linebacker played in all 17 games for the Arizona Cardinals, tallying 116 tackles, seven tackles for loss, five quarterback hits, and two fumble recoveries.

Brian Asamoah could see some time as a rookie on the Vikings defense this season, likely serving in more of a supporting or backup role in 2022. Asamoah was drafted out of Oklahoma in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Troy Dye saw an expanded role at linebacker in 2021 for the Vikings, playing in all 17 games for the first time in his career. The third-year linebacker finished the year with 20 tackles for Minnesota.


Patrick Peterson, Cameron Dantzler, Chandon Sullivan, Andrew Booth, Akayleb Evans

Patrick Peterson returns for his second season in Minnesota in 2022 and will once again be tasked with leading the Vikings cornerback group. Peterson played in 13 games for Minnesota in 2021, finishing the year with 45 tackles, two tackles for loss, one interception, and one defensive touchdown.

Cameron Dantzler will have an opportunity to continue to prove himself as starter material in his third season in 2022 after playing in 14 games for Minnesota a year ago. Dantzler finished the 2021 campaign with a career-high 53 tackles, one interception, and one forced fumble.

Chandon Sullivan also jumped from Green Bay to Minnesota this off-season as a free agent, joining his teammate Za’Darius Smith with the Vikings. In 2021 with the Packers, Sullivan played in 17 games and started 10, tallying 31 tackles, two tackles for loss, and three interceptions.

Andrew Booth will have an opportunity to prove his worth right out of the gate as a rookie, hopefully helping a struggling Vikings cornerback unit in 2022. Booth is the Vikings second round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Akayleb Evans will likely serve in more of a supporting role as a backup in 2022, which will be his rookie season in the NFL. The Missouri product was selected by the Vikings in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft this off-season.


Harrison Smith, Lewis Cine, Cam Bynum, Josh Metellus

Harrison Smith will return as a star on the Vikings defense once again in 2022, which will be his 11th season in the NFL and with Minnesota. The six-time Pro Bowler appeared in 15 games in 2021, finishing with a career-best 114 tackles, five quarterback hits, three sacks, one interception, and one forced fumble in another Pro Bowl year.

Lewis Cine was the key pick in the 2022 NFL Draft for the Vikings, being selected with the 32nd overall pick and the final selection in the first round. Cine will have an opportunity to take the field along with Harrison Smith in Minnesota this year.

Cam Bynum saw a good amount of time on the field for Minnesota as a rookie in 2021, playing in 14 games and starting in three. Bynum finished his rookie campaign with 28 tackles, one quarterback hit, one tackle for loss, one interception, and one sack.

Josh Metellus played in nearly every game for the Vikings in his sophomore season in 2021, playing in 16 of the 17 regular season contests. Metellus finished the year with 13 tackles and eight solo tackles.


Greg Joseph, Jordan Berry, Andrew DePaola

Greg Joseph took on a starting role at kicker in Minnesota for the first time in 2021, a position the Vikings have been looking for consistency out of for the last few years. Joseph put together a solid season while appearing in all 17 games, converting on 33 of his 38 field goal attempts.

Jordan Berry returns for his second year as the punter in Minnesota, taking the field in all 17 games during his first season with the Vikings in 2021. Berry punted the ball a total of 78 times, totaling 3,624 yards, and a career-best 46.5 yards per punt.

Andrew DePaola comes back as the long snapper for Minnesota in 2022, his third season with the Vikings and eighth in the NFL. DePaola concluded the 2021 year by taking the field in all 17 games.

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