The Vikings selected two edge rushers in the 2021 draft. It was the last time Rick Spielman was in charge of a Vikings draft. The first one was Patrick Jones in the third round. The Pittsburgh alum was a first-team All-ACC player. The Vikings had that pick from trading away Yannick Ngakoue to the Baltimore Ravens and replaced him with another edge rusher.
In his rookie campaign, he couldn’t live up to his third-round label. The defensive end appeared in nine games and was on the field for exactly 99 snaps. Jones recorded seven tackles but no tackle for loss, sack, or quarterback hit. It was just his rookie year, so nobody should overreact, but the fact that he couldn’t get on the field more often, despite the struggling play of D.J. Wonnum and other edge rushers, is concerning.
The other edge rusher of the 2021 draft didn’t play a single snap last season but for a different reason. Janarius Robinson missed the full season with an injury, but fans expect a lot from him. His pre-draft measurables show a lot of promise. He’s 6’5″, 266 pounds, with a 98 percentile wingspan and a 94 percentile arm length. Combined with a 4.69 40-yard dash, the Florida state defender has the makings of a prototypical edge rusher.
Inconsistencies in college and subpar fundamentals made him slip to the fourth round of the draft, but the talent is certainly there to become a good player with the right coaching. He appeared on NFL Network’s GMFB and is excited to be back on the field.
“After sitting out last year, I’m just excited to get back on the field with my brothers. Just the journey of living out my dream, being on an NFL roster. Just living out my dream, playing the game that I love.”
– Janarius Robinson on GMFB
A young, talented player coming back to the game that he loves is what Vikings fans want to see.
“Last offseason, I had a different approach. Training with some veteran guys In the spring, I went to Houston to train with Danielle Hunter. Just to get around [one of] those guys who are successful.”
– Janarius Robinson on GMFB
In the current offseason, Robinson went to Orlando and worked out with another one of his teammates, Za’Darius Smith. Smith and Hunter belong to the group of the best edge rushers in the business. Only injuries could stop them in recent years. Their knowledge about fundamentals like hand placement, however, is perfect for a young player to learn from the best of the best.
Excited About Vikings Head Coach
Asked about his head coach, Kevin O’Connell, Robinson raved about the new leader of the purple team.
“He’s a great guy. Young, energetic. That’s somebody you want to be around. He brings that juice. Somebody who has that young atmosphere. That’s something I can say about the team is that he has us going. He brings that energy and that makes the team wanna bring that energy and giving their all. I like coach Kevin.”
J- anarius Robinson about his head coach Kevin O’Connell
To hear a young player talk about his coach like that should get Vikings fans excited about the upcoming season. The players were tired of Zimmer’s approach, and if they feel more comfortable around O’Connell, athletes can perform at a higher level.
Robinson has the opportunity to provide some depth to the edge rushing room. He won’t supplant Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith, but if one of them misses time or needs a breather, the Vikings need a solid backup. Robinson has the talent to be that guy. It will be interesting to see how well he performs at training camp and in the preseason and if he can take the position of Wonnum and Jones and usurp some of their snaps.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt