91 Days Until Vikings Football: Will Jalyn Holmes Step Up in 2020?

The opportunity is there for the former Ohio State Buckeye to earn a bigger role in 2020.
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As we count down the days until the Vikings' opener against the Packers on September 13th, InsideTheVikings will be previewing every single player on the roster. The amount of days remaining corresponds with the jersey number of the player being examined on that day. Today is June 14th, and there are 91 days until kickoff for the 2020 regular season. That means today's player preview looks at an athletic defensive lineman who hasn't quite put it all together through two seasons.

Countdown to Vikings-Packers on September 13th: 91 Days

Player Preview: Jalyn Holmes (No. 91, Defensive Tackle)

Note: Holmes wore jersey No. 92 for the past two seasons. But with Stephen Weatherly gone, Holmes has moved to 91 and Anthony Zettel has taken his old 92.

  • College: Ohio State
  • Drafted: 2018 fourth round (102nd overall)
  • NFL experience: Two years (2020 will be his third season)
  • Age: 24 (Turns 25 next January)
  • Size: 6'5", 283
  • 2019 PFF Grade: 49.0
  • Notable 2019 stats: 4 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 FR in the postseason
  • Notable career stats: 7 tackles, 1 sack, 1 non-sack TFL

Will the third year be the charm for Jalyn Holmes in 2020? Through his first two seasons, the former 102nd overall pick has yet to make much of an impact for the Vikings on the field. He simply hasn't earned any significant playing time on a loaded defensive line, appearing in just 11 regular season games and playing fewer than 150 snaps thus far in his career.

In 2020, the opportunity is there for Holmes to step up and earn a role. Everson Griffen and Stephen Weatherly are gone, and Shamar Stephen was mostly unimpressive in 2019. That's almost 2,000 snaps on the D-line that could potentially be replaced during the upcoming season.

Holmes' clearest path to playing time is emerging from a crowded group at DT. He has prototypical size (6'5", 283), arm length (34"), and athleticism (4.82 40) for the three-technique position, which figures to be wide open after Stephen's struggles. The competition at that spot will likely feature Holmes, Stephen, Armon Watts, Jaleel Johnson, Hercules Mata'afa and rookie James Lynch. Anthony Zettel could potentially be a factor as well, though he's more likely to remain a defensive end. New nose tackle Michael Pierce isn't known for being much of a pass-rusher, so Holmes could also compete for snaps at that spot on obvious passing downs.

Holmes was originally drafted as a defensive end out of Ohio State in 2014. He had four sacks, 12 non-sack tackles for loss, four pass breakups, and two forced fumbles across his junior and senior seasons in Columbus. That's not a crazy amount of production, but Holmes' athleticism and potential were enough to nearly make him a top-100 pick.

The Vikings moved Holmes inside to DT during his rookie year, but he rarely saw the field; he was active for just five games in 2018. Late in a blowout win over the Jets in Week 7, Holmes recorded his first career sack while lining up at defensive end.

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Holmes showed off his burst at times in the 2019 preseason, recording a sack and six tackles (giving him 2.5 sacks, 10 tackles, and two pass breakups in his preseason career). On this play against the Saints, he exploded through a free gap on a stunt and took down former Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater.

Still, Holmes' role didn't change much during the regular season. He only appeared in six games, and five of those featured 15 or fewer defensive snaps. Holmes played a career-high 38 snaps in the meaningless Week 17 games against the Bears, and again flashed his potential by making a couple nice plays in the backfield from the three-technique position.

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It's possible that the Vikings could look to move Holmes back to the edge in 2020, given that DE is a position that has less depth than their defensive tackle group. With Griffen and Weatherly gone, Ifeadi Odenigbo is expected to step into a starting role across from superstar Danielle Hunter. But Odenigbo hasn't played a three-down role since high school, so it's possible that there will be a rotation there. Behind Hunter and Odenigbo, the Vikings have a journeyman veteran (Zettel), a pair of Day 3 rookies (DJ Wonnum and Kenny Willekes), and a couple practice squad types (Eddie Yarbrough and Stacy Keely). Moving Holmes back to DE might actually give him the best shot at making the 53-man roster in 2020.

The athletic upside is still there for Holmes, but this will be a pivotal training camp for him. If he makes the team and carves out a role somewhere on the defensive line, he could remain in the Vikings' plans going forward. However, given the disappointing start to his career and the Vikings' depth, he's far from a lock to make the roster.

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