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Defensive Players To Watch in 2023

The Vikings defense is going to look extremely different in 2023. Losing the notables Eric Kendricks, Za’Darius Smith, Patrick Peterson and adding Brian Flores as the team’s Defensive Coordinator it is time for other members of our defense to step up. There is no debate what Flores is about, his defenses are extremely aggressive, all eyes remain on the quarterback, everyone is moving forward and breaking hard for the ball. Two members of our defense that I am excited for most in this scheme are Josh Metellus and Byron Murphy. 

Safety Josh Metellus was recently brought to the world’s attention when general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah called Josh one of our Core Pillars on Peter Schrager’s Podcast, The Season with Peter Schrager:

“Josh Metellus. He’s a safety, and he’ll play some more this year… He’s everything that the Minnesota Vikings are about, and I think people are really going to appreciate that more this season” said Adofo-Mensah.

Josh Metellus emerging as jack of all trades for Vikings defense - InForum | Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo news, weather and sports

One thing that excites me about Josh is how versatile he is. Metellus played over 300 special teams snaps and 258 defensive snaps in his 2022 campaign. Even with the reduced number of snaps on defense he was still able to record 42 tackles on the season. The aggressive mentality that Flores is preaching is going to mesh perfectly with a guy like Josh who brings a skill set with so much variety. I expect Josh to continue to have a huge role with specials but we will also see him line up in the slot and in some of the Flores schemes that find him lining up as a linebacker.

Vikings agree to terms with CB Byron Murphy - Daily Norseman

The second player I am most excited about is free agent signing Byron Murphy, Jr. Murphy comes to the Vikings after spending four seasons with the Cardinals, who drafted him in the second round of the 2019 draft. Murphy’s play style will have major success in the Flores defense. Byron will serve as our number one corner in 2023 and provide some much needed versatility. Per PFF, Byron has played nearly half of his snaps – 1,517 – in the slot position. 

One thing you will notice is that instantly off the snap he stays turned towards the quarterback, giving him the chance to read the play correctly. Even though he celebrated his 25th birthday this year, he still brings a veteran presence to a cornerback room that had four corners depart after last season. With 48 starts already under his belt I expect Murphy to support Harrison Smith and Coach Flores in keeping our secondary in check during the 2023 season.

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