Vikings know they need a middle linebacker

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The Vikings lost middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley in free agency.  They’ve yet to replace him.  And they realize they need to.

“We know we have to get one.  That’s no secret,” linebackers coach Mike Singletary said Sunday, via Ben Goessling of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “When we do, we just have to teach him as much as we can, as fast as we can.  It’s going to be a lot of work.”

The gaping hole between Chad Greenway on the strong side and Erin Henderson on the weak side likely will be filled in the draft, where Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o has become an intriguing option for a franchise that has shown an affinity in recent years for Golden Domers.  With players like safety Harrison Smith (round one, 2011) and tight end Kyle Rudolph (round two, 2010) in the building, the Vikings will be able to find out all they need to know about whether Te’o can overcome one of the most bizarre off-field issues any incoming rookie ever has experienced.

The other possibility remains free agency, where Brian Urlacher has been available for nearly four weeks.  The Vikings reportedly would be interested if/when Urlacher’s price drops into a range commensurate with his age.

But Urlacher wouldn’t be a long-term fix.  And this could the best time to draft a middle linebacker of the future.

“Fortunately, this a good year to draft one,” said Singletary, who made it to the Hall of Fame as a middle linebacker with the Bears. “The kid at Kansas State, Arthur Brown, the kid at Notre Dame [Te’o], the kid at LSU [Kevin Minter], [Alec] Ogletree, there are a few guys that have good quality.  It just depends on how it shakes out.”

It starts shaking in 18 days.  If if when the dust settles they can’t get the guy they want, it may be time to start increasing the potential pay grade for Urlacher.

30 responses to “Vikings know they need a middle linebacker

  1. What about Karlos Dansby? I believe he is able to play a 4-3, possibly. I haven’t heard any speculation on him at all. Didn’t he have a ton of tackles for the ‘Fins last year? I really want to see my Chiefs sign him to start next to Derrick Johnson though.

  2. So now we know they want Ogletree. Since he stood out in the 4 crazy eyes mentioned

  3. Poor Vikings fans might get stuck with Teo. Good thing AP is so relevant: Teo can be a back page story.

  4. Mike: Urlacher is no longer starting MLB quality.

    He’ll be a last resort for MN.

    Vikings go 1-5 in the North Division, if Urlacher starts for MN in 2013.

  5. Interesting that the last Bears HOF linebacker might end up coaching the next Bears HOF linebacker.

  6. If I were them, I’d sign Free Agent Middle Linebacker Larry Grant and draft one.

    Grant was Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman’s backup in San Francisco. He played a couple games in place of Willis and the defense didn’t miss a beat. He’s obviously no Patrick Willis and he benefited from being surrounded by defensive talent. He’s no superstar. But he’s a good assignment sound Middle Linebacker who can be decent starter. I’m surprised no one has signed him yet. The Niner’s are strapped for cap space so if no one signs him I hope he goes back to them for the vet minimum.

  7. Heck, the Texans need an ILb but I do not want them to take one in the 1st round. Ray Lewis nor Mike Singletary are not in this draft. A good DT will make the ILB better so I would put the priority on a DT or DE before I draft a ILB.
    As much as people hype Kevin Minter and Manti Teo, Kevin Reddick, Kiko Alonso and Nico Johnson are just as good and they will be available in the middle rounds.
    Prime example, Kevin Olgetree will get drafted early but the reason he was so productive at Georgia was John Jenkins and Arby Jones. Ogletree had free runs into the backfield as Jenkins occupied blockers.
    Same goes for Teo. When Nix and Lewis-Moore dominate the line of scrimmage, Teo was second in the Heisman voting. Then when they played Alabama and Alabama own the line of scrimmage, we saw the real Teo. Frankly, I was not impressed.

  8. Agree strongly with the post regarding Larry Grant. He played extremely well in relief of P. Willis late in the 2011 season. In the Seattle game he chased down TJ and ?forced a fumble that sealed the vicorty. The Vikings could do a lot worse.

  9. If Urlacher were tested in the 40-yard dash, his time would be 4.9+.

    Thus, why do people believe he’s still starting LB material in the NFL?

    There’s a reason Chicago did not re-sign him and, ultimately, why none of the other 31 teams have, likewise, not signed him.

  10. McClain might be a good option since singletary could be the ultimate motivator as his position coach. He might be able to make McClain the same player he was at bama. He was able to make something out of Vernon Davis.

  11. I don’t know how good they would actually be if they managed to get both Urlacher and Te’o, but I’d definitely love to find out.

    But for some reason, in the end, I just really see Urlacher going back to Chicago.

  12. Unfortunately, the Vikings won’t be able to draft a middle linebacker in the first round because I’ve been told that they will draft Geno Smith. Why draft for need when you can take a quarterback you don’t need and nobody else wants?

  13. Honestly, as much as I like Urlacher, Forte would absolutely physically shred him if he signed with the Vikings. Not to mention Bush would bowl him over. Just retire bro.

  14. How do you talk about the Norte Dame connection and fail to mention John Sullivan?

  15. Te’o woud be perfect of the Vikings. A middle linebacker who disappears in the big games fits the profile of a team that does exactly the same thing.

    His imaginary girlfriend holding all the Viking’s imaginary Lombardi trophies, somehow it all seems just right.

  16. I really wish the Vikings would sign a veteran for this spot. Those two first round picks are definitely needed for a DT to replace Kevin Williams, and a WR (Keenan Allen).

    Drafting Te’o would be problematic, and of the other players listed, the ones worth picking in round one may not be there at 23 or 25. As big a need as this is for them, the other two needs are even bigger.

  17. How about Nick Barnett? He was one of Buffalo’s leading tacklers last season. He also did a great job against the run too. I’m sure Barnett can be had for the league minimum too.

  18. I like McClain in Minnesota. He definitely has first round talent, even if he never played to his potential. Singeltary has been able to get boneheaded players to get their noses in a playbook, and if anyone has the resume to be able to teach the middle linebacker position, a hall of famer is a great start. Plus, since he’s proven himself to be a “bust” you can get him in the door on a cheap, non-guaranteed, prove it contract.

    That allows you to draft a developmental guy in a later round and not reach on someone early. It isn’t like MLB is the only position of need on that team. If McClain doesn’t pan out this year, you’ve got a kid that sat on the bench for a year learning from one of the Ten best to ever play the position.

  19. MLB is not as big of a hole as people are making it out to be. The Vikings need a run stuffing DT like John Jenkins and at least a pair of WRs in this draft. a servicable MLB can be found in rounds 2-4 easily enough.

  20. karlos dansby, larry grant, rolando mcclain..all still available. we should pick up one of them.

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