Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 4 other subscribers

MN Vikings Tweets

Bleacher Report – Vikings

Draft preview: Vikings have two for future, but could use third at linebacker

By Andrew Krammer

MINNEAPOLIS — The Vikings shouldn’t be done turning over the linebacker position.

Though they’ve inked four new contracts, they sit with eight players and will add more this weekend. Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks give the Vikings a strong duo to lean on for years to come, but they may view this as more of a long-term need as Chad Greenway enters his final season. Behind them are Audie Cole, free-agent signings Emmanuel Lamur and Travis Lewis and a couple late-round picks.

The Vikings have created a situation where they don’t have to add top-level talent anywhere on defense as they’re returning almost every snap from last year’s fifth-ranked scoring unit. But the third linebacker, whether weak-side or middle, just like the second safety and nickel pass rusher, remains a question mark in the long-term outlook. While safety would be a more worthwhile pick in the first round given he could play every snap, the injury rate and current depth at linebacker pushes me to the front seven — only after round one. As I’ll preview tomorrow, they need to add a starting split end for Teddy Bridgewater.

Let’s assess why linebacker checks in as my No. 2 need for the Vikings.

No. 3: Vikings shouldn’t rule out stockpiling OL with eye beyond ’16
No. 4: Even with Griffin addition, Vikings could bolster safety
No. 5: Vikings may add to ‘important’ spot on defensive line

Depth chart

SLB Anthony Barr, 24
SLB Edmond Robinson, 24

MLB Eric Kendricks, 24
MLB Audie Cole, 26

WLB Chad Greenway, 33
WLB Emmanuel Lamur, 26
WLB Brandon Watts, 25
WLB Travis Lewis, 28

Situation

Consecutive top picks turned over the linebacker corps, though it’ll take one more for an entirely new group of the future. Chad Greenway returned for what he anticipates to be his 11th and final season in Minnesota, and the Vikings made two free agency additions at his position in ex-Bengal Emmanuel Lamur, who received $2 million guaranteed on a two-year deal, and ex-Lion Travis Lewis. They bring a combined 19 career starts to the weak-side competition. I ranked this as the Vikings’ top need in the defense because I think they’ll aim to address offense early. Though an argument can be made to finally upgrade at safety next to Harrison Smith. I just have a hard time seeing an early pick at safety after they committed more than $6.5 million in 2016 cap space to Michael Griffin and Andrew Sendejo. Another second- or possibly third-round addition could turn their linebacker competition into quality depth in an area where they were banged up a year ago. Anthony Barr, a budding star, has missed much of seven games (six starts) to injury in his two seasons, playing through a broken hand last year. Eric Kendricks missed two starts as a rookie with injured ribs. Audie Cole is returning from a broken ankle that ended his year. And while Greenway enjoyed a healthy 2015, he turned 33 this year. Kendricks impressed coaches with his instinct at middle linebacker, but his coverage skills allow him to play nickel and he could eventually move outside in the base defense, should they add a heavy hitter.

Below are three players the Vikings could add in this week’s NFL Draft.

Three to watch

1. OLB Su’a Cravens, USC (6-1, 226)

The Vikings love versatility in their defenders. Cravens was recruited as a safety and moved to outside linebacker as a sophomore. Leaving school a year early after 34.5 tackles for a loss, 10.5 sacks and nine interceptions in three seasons. A bit undersized, but Mike Zimmer showed he doesn’t adhere to the same labels when taking 6-foot Eric Kendricks in the second round and plugging him at middle linebacker. Cravens’ versatility would be valuable for a defense seeking help at both linebacker and safety, giving the Vikings another unique talent to scheme around. Expected to be drafted in the second round.

2. LB Joshua Perry, Ohio State (6-4, 254)

A heralded player on and off the field at Ohio State, Perry was given All-Big Ten honors and was one of four finalists for the Lott IMPACT Trophy after a 100-tackle senior season. Credited with 296 total tackles as a Buckeye. Perry is one of the biggest outside linebacker prospects who could fit in the middle of a 3-4 or 4-3 system in the NFL. A potential second- or third-round pick.

3. ILB Blake Martinez, Stanford (6-2, 237)

A two-year starter for the Cardinal with production against run and pass. Compiled 13.5 tackles for losses, 6.5 sacks, four interceptions and four forced fumbles in 27 games. Martinez added a strong combine to his production, ranking fifth among linebackers in the bench press (22), second in the three-cone drill (6.98) and third in the 20-yard shuttle (4.20). Though he’s not expected to get picked until the fourth round or later with scouting reports questioning his quickness for the NFL.

The post Draft preview: Vikings have two for future, but could use third at linebacker appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>