The Vikings aren’t the first team to turn to Penn State for help at linebacker. And on the final day of the 2013 NFL Draft, Minnesota added a pair of Nittany Lions to its LB depth chart, choosing Gerald Hodges in Round Four and Michael Mauti in Round Seven.
The 6-1, 243-pound Hodges, who played outside linebacker in college, led Penn State in tackles (109) in 2012. He also broke up a team-best nine passes and earned second-team All-Big Ten honors.
On a conference call with media Saturday, Hodges indicated he was unsure whether the Vikings planned to play him outside or in the middle. Jasper Brinkley, the Vikings’ starting middle linebacker from a season ago, departed in free agency, signing with Arizona.
Mauti, a middle linebacker in college, is recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee suffered in November. It was the second time he’s suffered an ACL tear in the same knee in the span of a little more than a year. Also, he suffered a right ACL tear in 2009.
Mauti (6-2, 243) had a productive 2012 season before the injury, notching 95 tackles, intercepting three passes and forcing three fumbles. He garnered first-team All-Big Ten honors and won the conference’s Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year Award.
Penn State has had a history of producing NFL talent at the position, with NaVorro Bowman, Sean Lee and Tamba Hali among the former Nittany Lions currently playing key roles for teams.