The Minnesota Vikings have done a good job addressing their need for a pass rusher this season. They were able to bring Danielle Hunter back at a more affordable price, and they also swiped Za’Darius Smith after the Green Bay Packers released him. But while Hunter and Smith are looking to form a formidable duo, their health continues to be uncertain. Hunter has dealt with two significant injuries in the last two seasons, and Smith missed every regular-season game after the season opener last year with a back injury.
The Vikings can turn to D.J. Wonnum, Patrick Jones, and Janarius Robinson to fill in, but they haven’t made the impact that you would want to see at this point in their careers. Though they are all still young and could improve under the new regime, Minnesota might look to add another edge rusher to the mix to bolster their pass rush. However, it is unlikely that the Vikings will use their No. 12-overall pick on an edge player. Instead, they would probably opt to find one in a later round.
Kingsley Enagbare from the University of South Carolina is one of the pass rushers that the Vikings could pick up in the middle rounds.
Enagbare is 6’4”, 265 lbs., and uses his physical tools well. He offers some length at the edge position, which he couples with explosive burst.
Though Enagbare doesn’t have elite speed compared to someone like David Ojabo, he has a burst that helps him get off the line of scrimmage and move up the field while using his hands against opposing tackles. His ability to avoid being pushed off his path by an opposing lineman while dipping his shoulder, getting bend, and narrowing his angle to the pocket sets him apart.
Enagbare’s motor is also incredible. He always follows through on the play until the ball is dead and can get after the passer without stunts. He recorded a 36% win rate in pure outside-the-tackle alignments in 2021. Chase Young and Nick Bosa are the only players with a percentage that high since 2017.
The versatility he showcased in college also makes him intriguing. He lined up as a hand-in-the-dirt defensive lineman and showed his ability to play as a stand-up 3-4 linebacker. He played all along the defensive line in college. It would be interesting to see what sort of sub-packages the Vikings would use him in during obvious passing situations. Would they opt to kick him or Hunter on the inside to use their speed as an advantage against an opposing guard?
Enagbare has all the physical tools as a pass rusher, but his intelligence elevates his game. When he is rushing the quarterback, it’s clear that he has a plan and knows how he is going to attack the offensive lineman. He can go to the outside and set up an opponent with his hands before pulling a swim move, or he can do a simple bull rush.
However, he needs to improve his ability to counter the offensive lineman. Sometimes when he gets stuck on a block, he will try to power through instead of making a move to make the lineman work more. That won’t work as often against bigger, stronger tackles in the NFL. He will need to develop more counter moves to make him a threat after the initial block.
Although Enagbare is a good pass rusher, his ability to make stops against the run will have to improve. He has all the tools to be a great run defender. However, there were times in college when he would take too long to process the blocks forming ahead of him. As a result, he allowed opposing running backs to get past the first level untouched.
If the Vikings were to take him in the middle rounds, Enagbare would likely serve as a pure pass rusher and allow for some flexibility along the line in sub-packages. Though he is already a solid player, whoever drafts Enagbare will have to properly develop him before he can reach his full potential. While all of the tools are there, he needs to be coached up. However, he won’t be forced to start right away with the Vikings, giving him time to develop behind Hunter and Smith.