The Vikings depth chart after Minnesota traded Za’Darius Smith to the Browns still has remaining pass-rushing potential even without the veteran.
After months of speculation, the Vikings made their break up with Za’Darius Smith official on Friday by trading him to the Browns.
The general perception is that Cleveland won the trade but Minnesota parted ways with an unhappy player they may have had to cut anyways, clearing a nice chunk of cap space and improving their draft standing in the process.
Regardless of the initial grades, the Smith trade will impact the defensive depth chart for the Vikings in 2023, though it feels like the team has already prepared for that eventuality.
Vikings updated depth chart after Za’Darius Smith trade
- Dean Lowry
- Esezi Otomewo
- Khyiris Tonga
- Jaquelin Roy [5th-round draft pick]
- Harrison Phillips
- Jonathan Bullard
- Danielle Hunter
- Pat Jones II
- Jordan Hicks
- Troy Dye
- Brian Asamoah II
- Troy Reeder
- Marcus Davenport
- D.J. Wonnum
- Andrew Booth Jr.
- Joejuan Williams
- Harrison Smith
- Josh Metellus
- Camryn Bynum
- Lewis Cine
- Akayleb Evans
- Mekhi Blackmon [3rd-round draft pick]
- Byron Murphy
- Jay Ward [4th-round draft pick]
In 2022, the Vikings had Smith starting opposite Danielle Hunter in the two outside linebacker spots. Earlier in 2023, they signed Saints edge Marcus Davenport in a move that seemed to signal where things with Smith were heading.
Now, Minnesota will depend on Davenport to take over the starting spot from Smith, or for D.J. Wonnum to take on a larger role.
Davenport has been the epitome of an injury-prone player during his career. He’s never started more than 13 games in a season. Minnesota is hoping to get the version of Davenport that stood out with nine sacks and three forced fumbles in 11 games of action in 2021. Less ideal would be the Davenport who managed just 0.5 sacks in 15 games last year.