Vikings Rookie Predicted to Unseat $20 Million Starter

The Minnesota Vikings reloaded at edge rusher this offseason by signing veterans Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel in free agency. However, Van Ginkel’s spot as a starter may already be in jeopardy with the arrival of first-round rookie Dallas Turner.

Bleacher Report’s Gary Davenport projected eight NFL starters whose roles could be in jeopardy after the draft and highlighted Van Ginkel’s shaky footing on the starting edge spot after signing a two-year, $20 million deal with the Vikings in March.

“When Van Ginkel signed with the Minnesota Vikings in free agency, it appeared that the 28-year-old was going to get an opportunity to be a full-time starter. … The Vikings apparently believed that question had not been answered sufficiently… Minnesota drafted Alabama edge-rusher Dallas Turner, a wildly athletic youngster who some believe is the top prospect at the position in this class,” Davenport wrote on May 1.

“Van Ginkel is a hard-nosed grinder, but he doesn’t have Turner’s raw talent—and by Week 1 he’ll likely be relegated to a complementary role.”

Dallas Turner is Not a Problem for Vikings’ Andrew Van Ginkel

Giants connected to Dolphins pass rusher Andrew Van Ginkel in NFL free agency.

While who is starting is merely a matter of semantics in Brian Flores’ amorphous defensive scheme, it’s worth noting that Van Ginkel and Turner should both have significant roles.

A 2019 fifth-round pick by Flores when he was head coach of the Miami Dolphins, Van Ginkel climbed his way into a starting role through his position versatility.

Despite Dolphins defensive coordinator Vic Fangio moving him to inside linebacker during training camp last year, injuries forced Van Ginkel into a pass-rushing role early in the 2023 season  — and he thrived. Van Ginkel racked up four sacks in five games and finished the year with a career-high 6.0 sacks after he returned to his original role.

He was one of the NFL’s most effective pass rushers in 2023, posting the ninth-highest pressure rate (18.2%) in the NFL by logging 53 pressures on 303 pass-rushing snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.

It was a flash of what could be Van Ginkel’s true calling in the NFL, but Davenport is right in projecting that Turner will carve into the available reps on the outside.

That’s a good problem. Van Ginkel, PFF’s seventh-highest grade EDGE (91.1 overall grade) who also posted the seventh-highest coverage grade (87.3) by any linebacker in the league, will have opportunities all over the field and won’t be locked to only rushing the quarterback.

“He’s kind of really molded me into the player I am today, and we went through a lot of hard times,” Van Ginkel said of Flores in his introductory news conference, per The Star Tribune. “But just the way he used me, it’s very versatile … being able to line up in different positions, makes it tough on opponents and game planning, so it was definitely what intrigued me.”

Dallas Turner Projected as Favorite for Defensive Rookie of the Year

Dallas Turner

The Vikings’ selection of Turner was the first time the team had selected an edge rusher in the first two rounds of the draft since 2005.

While draft value analysts have argued that trading up to the No. 17 pick for Turner was not a good value, the player behind the pick may be worth well more than where he landed in the order of the draft.

Turner was ranked the top edge rusher in the draft and No. 8 on the consensus big board. He, and the rest of his fellow blue-chip defenders, fell outside the top 10 due to an unprecedented run of 14 offensive players to start the draft.

Turner is projected as the favorite to win Defensive Rookie of the Year with +500 odds, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

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