Minicamp is in our rearview mirror and training camp is fast coming up. Let’s continue our series of revisits with a look at the linebacker corps. There has been a big change in that area obviously. Here’s the depth chart as it stands now:
1. Chad Greenway
He’s one of the NFL’s top 100 players.
2. Erin Henderson
The Vikings are still going with the same line on Henderson. He’s the Mike unless someone else takes the job. But fact is he has no experience at that position. Other guys on the roster do have experience at that position. I can’t see Henderson starting inside on opening day. He will be back at the Will where he belongs. Probably.
3. Desmond Bishop
Everything depends on health. If his leg is good after a year on the shelf, he will win the job at Mike. If not? The Vikes wasted only $50,000 in guaranteed money. That’s less than they wasted on Manny Arceneaux (he got a $75,000 signing bonus if you recall). Let’s hope Bishop is healthy and ready to rock. Otherwise this is going to be a pretty dismal linebacker group.
4. Marvin Mitchell
Your veteran depth at two positions. Still has an outside shot at winning the weak-side backer job. He was the main guy lining up there in minicamp. Solid #4 linebacker.
5. Gerald Hodges
It will be interesting to see how Alan Williams mixes this guy in. He has some coverage skills by all indications. But we know how hard it is for rookies to crack the lineup under Leslie Frazier. This guy might get stashed like Robert Blanton was last year.
6. Larry Dean
There’s going to be a little camp battle for this last linebacker spot. I’m giving Dean the leg-up here based on youth and special teams ability.
7. Tyrone McKenzie
Another solid special teams guy.
8. Audie Cole
Where does preseason superstar Audie Cole fit in to the picture? All depends on what he does in camp. There’s no reason he can’t come on like gangbusters and pass up the two guys listed above him. He certainly seems to have all the makings of a special teams ace and decent back-up. No way he gets into the mix at MLB though. He’s a scrub/special teams guy all the way.
9. Michael Mauti
Rehabbing. Doubt we’ll see this guy at all in 2013.
We’ll have to see how Desmond Bishop looks in camp. No reason to believe he won’t be healthy. Beyond that top 3, things are kind of up in the air. Marvin Mitchell I think has a fairly solid hold on #4 but anything can happen. Gerald Hodges being a rookie fourth rounder is in no danger. But 6-8 is a total toss-up. I really don’t know what’s going to happen there. That will be interesting to watch.