On the surface, it seemed the Vikings pass rush came alive in Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks, tallying a season-high four sacks on Russell Wilson. But the line’s inability to pressure Wilson — failing to sack him once in the second half — prompted a signing just minutes after the game.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that the Vikings “are poaching (defensive end) Jordan Brailford off the Washington Football Team practice squad, per source.” On Monday, it was confirmed that Brailford was signed to the 53-man roster, per the Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson.
The Vikings dropped linebacker Eddie Yarbrough from the 53-man roster to make room for Brailford and re-added Yarbrough to the practice squad after he cleared waivers on Monday. Brailford arrived in the Twin Cities area on Monday and is undergoing coronavirus protocols. He could join the Vikings practice as soon as Wednesday, per Tomasson.
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Brailford Draws Interesting Comparison
Brailford, 25, is relatively old for a second-year player. He was drafted out of Oklahoma State in the seventh round of the 2019 NFL Draft and was considered a “raw talent” coming out of the draft, per PistolsFiring.
Standing 6-foot-3 and 252 pounds, Brailford was considered undersized at defensive end but compensates with his athleticism. He led the Big 12 in sacks (9) his junior year and had 54 total tackles — the most of any Cowboys lineman. He posted a 4.65 40-yard dash, a 37.5-inch vertical, and a 126-inch broad jump at the NFL Combine.
His 40-time ranks in the 86th percentile, vertical in the 89th percentile and broad jump in the 94th percentile, per Mockdraftables. His player comparison by Mockdraftables: none other than Yannick Ngakoue, who was also undersized out of college but excelled on the same three tests.
Brailford was on Washington’s practice squad since Week 1, buried underneath a bevy of recent draft picks including No. 2 overall pick Chase Young, and was poached as an unprotected player. His elevation straight to the Vikings 53-man roster shows Minnesota may fast track his progression into the defensive rotation.
Ngakoue a Lone Bright Spot
Ngakoue is currently fourth in the NFL with five sacks in five games as a lone bright spot on the defensive line that has progressed in the past couple weeks.
Ngakoue was the only defensive lineman to notch a sack this season before Week 4 when rookie D.J. Wonnum joined Ngakoue by sacking Deshaun Watson. Ifeadi Odenigbo, linebacker Eric Wilson, Ngakoue and rookie James Lynch all sacked Russell Wilson in the first half of Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks.
Lynch was the most impressive interior defensive lineman in his NFL debut and likely carved out a more significant role moving forward. The defensive line could see several shakeups with Lynch and Brailford now entering the mix.
Brailford likely won’t make his debut with the Vikings by Sunday’s game against the 0-5 Falcons, although there is a chance if he gets up to speed the Vikings could give him some reps to familiarize Brailford with the game speed he has yet to see.
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Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.