Vikings looking to move Erin Henderson to middle linebacker

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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.

18 responses to “Vikings looking to move Erin Henderson to middle linebacker

  1. It could work, there is some flexibility with the D-line that is in place. A healthy Jared helps too. Vikes need to find a long term solution here

  2. Okayyyy…but that means we need to find someone to play outside linebacker then. My guess is they’ll try Henderson out in the middle during minicamps and then either sign a free agent middle linebacker or outside linebacker to a one-year deal, depending on the direction they need to go. They will not be starting a rookie fourth-round pick, at least not at the beginning of the year.

  3. “If we got outside he can play inside, or if we go outside he can play inside”
    Sounds good.

  4. Erin Henderson is an outstanding player, on and off the field. And is a great mentor for our rookies. Such a blessing to the organization.

  5. Holy cow. He gained 4 lbs! He’s absolutely ready for the middle linebacker job! Can’t wait to see Erin out of position at middle linebacker instead of outside linebacker! Skol Vikes!

  6. Henderson is okay, nothing special. Nothing wrong with the picks they traded to get Patterson, but they could have gotten Arthur Brown in the 2nd round, plus a decent receiver in the 3rd. Time will tell which was a better move.

  7. I suspect 4lbs. of pure Purple Muscle gain every two weeks will top him out @ 320lbs. by the start of the season.
    It’s Spielmans master plan of LB drafting smoke mirrors to get 3 1st RDers & then mutate Henderson into a hulk.

  8. Rumors around the league also suggest that Erin, being inspired by Jason Collins, may be the first NFL player to come out admitting that he has a girl’s name.

  9. I think he can handle it. His older brother EJ did a very nice job at the Mike until that broken femur injury back in 2009.

    If Erin puts in the time studying the defensive playbook and in the weightroom, he’ll be fine.

  10. I was going to spell his name like a girl to make fun of him, but I see he took care of that for me.

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