A diamond in the rough landed in the Minnesota Vikings’ lap all the way back in October of 2022.
While Minnesota didn’t know it at the time, defensive tackle Khyris Tonga would become one of the team’s most impactful rotational players this season
Tonga, drafted by the Chicago Bears in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL Draft, was lost in the shuffle amidst a regime change at the end of training camp. Spending his first year with Chicago, Tonga found a new home with the Atlanta Falcons, signing to the team’s practice squad in early September.
Fortunately for the Vikings, Tonga’s time in Atlanta wouldn’t last long. Minnesota signed the BYU product to its active roster on October 5, and has been reaping the benefits ever since.
Tonga has racked up 21 tackles on the season and has been credited with a share of a sack. While his stats don’t jump off the page, advanced analytics love Tonga.
In fact, of every defensive lineman drafted in the last two years, Tonga (77.3) lays claim to the highest grade, per Pro Football Focus.
Jordan Davis is the #2 highest graded DL drafted in 2021 or 2022 (20%+ snaps).— Krauser (@Krauserrific) December 26, 2022
#1 is… Khyiris Tonga.
With similar snap counts, Tonga has more sacks, more hits, more pressures, more batted passes, more tackles, more stops, and better pass rush and run defense grades than Davis pic.twitter.com/5nmCwVgsjL
The Eagles’ Jordan Davis has been lauded for his unique athleticism for his size, but the numbers show that Tonga is the more effective player. Tonga has more sacks, tackles, hits, and pressures than Davis. He also has superior grades in pass rush and run defense compared to Davis.
Credit first-year general manager Kwefi Adofo-Mensah and the Vikes’ scouting department for uncovering this hidden gem in Tonga. He’s showing all of the signs of a premier interior defensive lineman in the making.
It sure seems like the Vikings have a couple of thank you letters to write.
Featured image via Mark Konezny – USA TODAY Sports