Vikings ‘Top Sleeper’ a Fit for Dan Quinn’s Commanders in Free Agency - Sport News

Vikings ‘Top Sleeper’ a Fit for Dan Quinn’s Commanders in Free Agency

Putting together a stable of versatile edge-rushers will be a priority for the Washington Commanders, so head coach Dan Quinn can start by signing D.J. Wonnum in 2024 NFL free agency. The Minnesota Vikings’ pass-rusher is rated as a “top sleeper” in this year’s veteran class.

D.J. Wonnum

That’s the verdict of an unnamed “pro personnel source” who told the Pro Football Network’s Adam Caplan how Wonnum “should be considered a top ‘sleeper’ for free agency.”

It’s a fitting label for a player who’s “posted 23 sacks in his four seasons of play, played in a career-high 83% of the team’s defensive snaps last season and has excellent length and size as an edge rusher (6-5, 260, 34 1/8-arm),” per Caplan.

Those attributes make Wonnum a fit for the Commanders, according to Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus. He believes signing Wonnum would mean the Commanders “add a three-down player who is solid all-around.”

The signing would also help Quinn replicate the same defensive setup he had with the Dallas Cowboys: “Dan Quinn’s Cowboys had one of the deepest edge groups in the NFL, and we don’t expect that to change much.”

D.J. Wonnum a Natural for Dan Quinn’s Defense

Flexibility is key to the creative ways Quinn uses his pass-rushers. He likes to move versatile athletes all over the fronts and have them attack out of multiple alignments.

Wonnum fits the bill because, as Caplan put it, the 26-year-old “has experience playing with his hand in the dirt earlier in his career under former head coach Mike Zimmer’s 4-3 scheme and as a stand-up pass rusher over the past two years.”

Some of Wonnum’s range was evident when he rushed from defensive tackle against the Detroit Lions in 2021. The pressure was highlighted by Aaron Day of DLineVids.

Wonnum finished that campaign with eight sacks and 15 quarterback hits. Numbers he matched in 2023, per Pro Football Reference.

Move skills and closing speed were again the keys to Wonnum’s success wrecking the pocket. Things he showed by running this stunt through the interior to get home against the Las Vegas Raiders for a sack highlighted by Inside The Vikings’ Will Ragatz.

These are the kind of plays sure to catch the attention of Quinn and new Commanders’ defensive coordinator Joe Whitt Jr. Retooling a weak pass rush with more dynamic athletes should be a priority for both in the coming months.

Edge-Rushers a Priority for Dan Quinn, Commanders

Fortunately, there’s no shortage of roving edge-rushers available in this year’s veteran market. Quinn could keep things simple and reunite with a familiar face from the Cowboys, defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr.

Alternatively, the Commanders could splash the cash so New York Jets’ situational pass-rusher Bryce Huff can operate in the same role All-Pro Micah Parsons played for Quinn. Either move would help replace defensive ends Chase Young and Montez Sweat.

Trading both during the season stunted Washington’s pass rush. Losing marquee talent is never easy, so the Commanders could replace Young and Sweat with a “top-of-the-market” edge-rusher.

Wonnum is more of a project, but Quinn doesn’t have to choose. Not when the Commanders and general manager Adam Peters have a league-leading $83,543,548 worth of space under the salary cap.

Working with that amount of cash means the Commanders can sign a hidden gem with upside like Wonnum, as well as taking a big name off the market. Those moves would bolster the pass rush significantly and go a long way toward giving Quinn the loaded rotation he needs to make his schemes work.

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