Vikings Make A Deal: Why The Ross Blacklock Trade Was The Right Move

September 2, 2022

Ross Blacklock, a TCU alum picked in the second round of the 2020 draft, will be back in purple this season. Seemingly unimpressed with the in-house talent along the defensive front, Vikings’ management made a few interesting moves on final cut day today. After releasing Armon Watts, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah traded a sixth-round pick for defensive lineman Ross Blacklock and a seventh round pick.

While this pair of transactions did clear $1.2 million in cap space, I see this move as much more than a salary-dump. Here’s why Ross Blacklock could be a positive on the field as well.

Variety Matters On The Vikings Defensive Front

For this section I’ve attached some visual aids.

Armon Watts (6’5″ 310lbs)is sort of a true 3-tech or 2i defensive lineman, best lined up over the guard. This is similar to Dalvin Tomlinson and Harrison Phillips, far superior players who do similar things. Three down lineman who function so similarly are challenging to deploy because it forces one of those players to line up wider than you’d like them to. So, the front office decided that Watts’ cap hit was too steep to keep him as a backup to Phillips and Tomlinson on the interior.

Ross Blacklock presents a more complimentary skillset to the two sure starters. Measuring in at 6’3″ 290lbs, he has more quickness and flexibility to kick out to 5-technique and even set the weak-side edge. His elite burst and explosiveness for his size have yet to be maximized at the NFL level but the Vikings’ defensive coaching staff is one that could change that.

Mike Pettine and Ed Donatell have spearheaded the implementation of the new defensive scheme for the Vikings so it’s safe to assume they’ve had an influence on the recent roster moves. This is just one of many moves likely to come to get “their guys” on the roster.