Let’s continue our series of positional breakdowns by having a gander at the linebackers. The Vikings addressed this position in the draft. But are they better off now than they were last season? Running down the depth chart.
1. Chad Greenway
You know exactly what you are going to get from Greenway week in and week out. A steady professional performance. We could quibble about his lack of impact plays but why bother? We know what this guy is. And what he isn’t.
2. Erin Henderson
He is taking over the middle according to Rick Spielman. I would say that is only tentatively the plan. In my mind this is a wait-and-see situation. I’m not convinced this guy is capable of playing the middle. I know he can’t play in nickel. We’ll see how things shake out in camp. The Vikings might end up calling on a free agent. But maybe Henderson will surprise me. Maybe he will be closer to E.J. than I expect.
3. Gerald Hodges
Penciled in as the Will backer as of now. The Vikings are obviously intrigued by his cover skills. He was a safety at Penn State before switching to linebacker, as you are probably aware. So he will likely be the nickel linebacker. He can’t possibly be worse in that role than Jasper Brinkley and Erin Henderson were last year. Can he? The question is, does he have enough to eventually become the full-time Mike? Leaving Erin on the outside would be ideal.
4. Marvin Mitchell
If everything goes to crap we could end up seeing Mitchell playing Mike and Erin back at Will. And Gerald Hodges riding the pines. Ideally Mitchell is a special teamer.
5. Larry Dean
Cute little special teamer.
6. Audie Cole
I’m looking forward to his preseason exploits. Can he break the all-time record for interceptions by an inevitable practice squadder in a meaningless exhibition game?
7. Michael Mauti
Eric Sugarman is a Miracle Man. But I don’t know if even he can salvage Michael Mauti. The Vikings took a flier on this guy despite numerous knee surgeries and other physical issues. Like Greg Childs, he’s a guy you root for. But you can’t count on him. Realistically.
8. Nathan Williams
Evidently we have someone named Nathan Williams on the roster.
Are they better off than last year?
There is still a lot of uncertainty with this group. Everything depends on Erin adjusting to the middle and Hodges showing up as a rookie. Two big big big “ifs.” And if those guys flop there isn’t a whole lot behind them. And that’s why a lot of people have their eye on Brian Urlacher. It seems a no-brainer that he will wind up on the Vikings. Unless his legs are totally shot.