The Minnesota Vikings need to address the linebacker position, particularly the middle linebacker spot, during the draft led many to assume that the Vikings would be a likely landing spot for Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o.
Despite three first round draft picks, the Vikings chose to not address the position early in the draft letting Te’o and other prospects fall elsewhere. Minnesota didn’t select a linebacker until taking outside linebacker Gerald Hodges from Penn State in the fourth round.
Leaving the middle of the defense largely unattended to, the Vikings appear to have other ideas of how to fill the void. According to Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com in the Twin Cities, Erin Henderson has put on weight and expects to move to the inside for the Vikings.
Henderson is now up to 248 pounds from the 244 he was listed at last season. The Vikings drafted another Penn State linebacker in Michael Mauti in the seventh round, but he likely won’t be asked to step into that role right away.
General manager Rick Spielman hinted at the possibility last week but said the decision was flexible based on what the Vikings were able to do in the draft.
“That’s flexible. That depends on what happens in the draft,” Spielman said, via Ben Goessling of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press. “If we go outside, Erin can slide inside or if we go outside, Erin can play inside. That’s what is great about this linebacker thing. We have the flexibility to go either way.”
Without taking an inside linebacker until the seventh round, and barring a post-draft free agent signing, Henderson will likely be called upon to take on that responsibility for the Vikings.