October 8, 2011; State College, PA, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes linebacker Tyler Nielsen (45) during first quarter action against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey G. Pittenger-US PRESSWIRE

Mayock: Tyler Nielsen Was Sleeper In Draft

The 2012 NFL Draft has been over for about 54 hours. Well guess what? We’re gonna talk about it some more. Just after the draft NFL Network’s Mike Mayock (one of the most respected draft gurus out there) stated that he was surprised that any team did not select Iowa linebacker Tyler Nielsen and how the Vikings got a steal by signing him for a cheap deal. To quote Mayock verbatim…

“Nielsen is very undervalued. He played through some injuries this year. If you didn’t know that, you might not like him. But I think he’s one of the better special teams players in this draft who ultimately might be a starting SAM (strong side) ‘backer in this league. And I think you’ll be able to get him somewhere around the fifth round.”

Nielsen stands 6’3”, weighs 238 pounds and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.64 seconds. He notched 73 tackles, 4 tackles for loss and a sack with the Hawkeyes. And for as much Big Ten football as I watched this past year Nielsen was noticeable during Iowa’s games. He’s very instinctive, understands tackling angles, is aggressive defending the run and appears to be respected by his teammates. On the downside, he’s at best an above average athlete and occasionally looks lost when asked to cover.

There’s a punchers chance Nielsen finds his way onto the Vikings roster this season. Erin Henderson and Chad Greenway are locks to start. Beyond that, it’s fair game. How nice would it be to have a two-down linebacker fall into our laps? Plus why not add another Iowa guy to the team to go with Christian Ballard, Chad Greenway and Allen Reisner? Arkansas, Notre Dame and USC need some form of competition.

Jon Merckle may be followed on Twitter @thevikingpig

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