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Bleacher Report – Vikings

What Brian Robison’s release says about the Vikings’ D-line depth

By Matthew Coller

Brian Robison is one of the best stories of the past decade-plus for the Minnesota Vikings.

As a fourth-round pick in 2007, he grinded away as a situational player for the first four years of his career and was pegged as too small to be a full-time defensive end. It wasn’t until 2011 that Robison finally got his shot and proved himself worthy of starting duty with 8.0 sacks. Between his first year as a starter and last season, B-Rob played in all but two games and racked up 46.5 sacks.

This year was expected to be his final season in purple, but instead the Vikings will not be keeping him on the 53-man roster according to multiple reports.

Robison appears to be a victim of his team’s success in finding depth defensive linemen. That starts with Danielle Hunter, who signed a mega deal to stay with the Vikings long term in the offseason. Hunter, who is just 24, will be taking the vast majority of snaps at defensive end.

It would have seemed that B-Rob could still hold down a situational role, but several younger players who also contribute to special teams have also made strides during camp and preseason.

Stephen Weatherly, a raw prospect with great athleticism and high IQ who was drafted in 2016, has barely seen the field aside from special teams in his first two years, but in this year’s preseason he was dominant. According to Pro Football Focus, Weatherly racked up two sacks, seven QB hits and five hurries, good for a total of 14 pressures in just 77 preseason pass rush snaps. He added six run stops.

Tashawn Bower posted five QB pressures in just 38 pass rush snaps. He has shown growth and potential from the time he signed as an undrafted free agent last season.

Jalyn Holmes, this year’s fourth-round pick from Ohio State, might also play into the equation as a player the Vikings like as an inside pass rusher down the road and needed to make room for him to stay.

There’s also the possibility that Robison is gone in part because of a domino effect from the signing of safety George Iloka. Adding the former Bengal could open up Anthony Barr to slide down to edge rusher, eliminating the need for another defensive end. Iloka can either play deep safety or up in the box because of his size and tackling ability. So in certain situations — ones in which B-Rob would have played in the past — we could see Iloka or even Harrison Smith filling a linebacker role while Barr chases the passer.

The Vikings could also add another proven pass rusher who hits the market. The Cowboys released ex-Panther Kony Ealy and Cincinnati parted ways with veteran Michael Johnson. Either could be of interest if the Vikings aren’t completely satisfied with the current state of the D-line.

As the Vikings go forward, they have to make every decision possible to have the best 53-man roster they can, even of B-Rob’s presence alone would have been a positive. His release is a sign of the times as the Vikings head into 2018 with the highest of expectations. It’s also a sign that their strategy is signing/drafting young project D-linemen is working.

The post What Brian Robison’s release says about the Vikings’ D-line depth appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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