Looking at the moves made by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2013 NFL Draft, there’s a good chance they’ll be back to trying and sign a veteran middle linebacker very soon, with Brian Urlacher, released from the Chicago Bears last month, looking like the best fit for the position.
Instead of picking Manti Te’o as many expected with their 29th pick, the Vikings preferred helping out Christian Ponder and picking Cordarrelle Patterson, a wide receiver. They did select linebackers eventually – Gerald Hodges in the fourth round and Michael Mauti in the seventh round. Maybe one day, but it’s hard to consider them as players who can start right away and fill a big need for the Vikings. Mauti is the only one of them who is likely to play in the middle at all.
There are a couple of options Minnesota can turn to before they sign players, although they both seem like improvisations and lazy fix-it solutions instead of giving the team and its defense the best chance possible to succeed next season.
Erin Henderson, who usually plays as the weak side linebacker, recording three sacks last season, might be shifted into the middle, hoping he doesn’t have too much of a hard time adjusting to the position switch. Another option is Audie Cole, a seventh round pick in 2012 who was barely used in 2012, and a year of training with the pros might have been enough to start pushing him up the depth chart.
Urlacher, obviously, is a better immediate option than all the previous names. He did have an injury last season, but when healthy he was still quite the force in the second line, helping the Bears rank fifth in total defense during the regular season. He’ll be asking for a little bit more money than the Vikings might wish to fork at the moment (somewhere between $2-3 million for one season), but it seems to be the best option they’ve got right now.