July 16, 2024

What will the Vikings’ roster look like for the upcoming season?

Minnesota Vikings rookie quarterback J.J. McCarthy could soon be reunited with another Michigan Wolverines difference-maker — defensive tackle Mason Graham.

ESPN released an early 2025 mock draft and predicted the Vikings to select Graham eighth overall.

“Minnesota’s interior defensive line lacks a consistent presence, and Harrison Phillips is entering the final year of his contract,” ESPN’s Jordan Reid wrote. “Graham is a rugged, heavy-handed run defender and disruptive pass-rusher. He had 7.5 tackles for loss and three sacks last season, and he’d fit great with defensive coordinator Brian Flores’ scheme.”

Graham was voted the Wolverines’ Defensive Player of the Game for his performance in a 27-20 overtime victory over Alabama in the Rose Bowl.

While McCarthy was credited as Offensive Player of the Game, it was Graham who came through with a clutch performance.

Facing second-and-goal from the 9-yard line, Graham breached the Crimson Tide’s offensive front and tackled Alabama running back Jase McClellan for a five-yard loss, setting up third-and-14.

Graham was part of one final stop on fourth down that sealed the victory and sent the Wolverines to the national championship game.

ESPN’s mock draft projects Graham to be the top defensive tackle taken in next year’s draft after a stellar sophomore season. It also aligns with the Pro Football Focus (PFF) evaluation of the 20-year-old.

PFF’s Max Chadwick graded Graham the top returning defensive interior lineman in college football next year, calling him “unblockable” and the best defensive tackle of the past two seasons.

The Vikings defense is hoping to return to its former glory despite the necessary evil of parting ways with Danielle Hunter.

For years, Hunter held up an otherwise abysmal pass rush but parted ways in free agency after securing a two-year, $49 million deal with the Houston Texans.

However, the future is bright for the Vikings defense, which saw significant investment this offseason with the arrival of outside linebackers Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel and inside linebacker Blake Cashman — all top-100 free agents in Pro Football Focus’ 2024 rankings.

The selection of Dallas Turner No. 17 overall as the de-facto replacement for Hunter ties a bow on fortifying the edges of the defensive front.

The inside linebacker core is in good hands with Ivan Pace Jr. and Cashman leading the way.

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