Vikings Draft: Is Denzel Perryman the Mike of the Future?


The Vikings solved their long-standing QB issue last season by drafting Teddy Bridgewater. But what about that other position that’s been a nagging problem seemingly forever?

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Pardon the gross metaphors, but the Mike linebacker spot has been an open festering sore on the Vikings’ roster ever since E.J. Henderson’s knee surrendered its last shred of viable tissue.

Since E.J. Henderson’s departure from the Mike job, the Vikings have gone into seasons with Jasper Brinkley, Erin Henderson and Jasper Brinkley again. At no point during that time did they seriously address the position via the draft or free agency.

Brinkley flopped in his first tenure under Leslie Frazier and was allowed to walk in free agency. Erin Henderson was then given the job by default and performed in less-than-stellar fashion. Last year, the Vikings punted on improving the position yet again by bringing back Jasper Brinkley on a one-year deal. Brinkley did okay as a stopgap but few believe he is the answer long-term.

Late-round picks like Audie Cole and Michael Mauti have been mentioned in connection with the position at various times but neither of those guys ever did enough in practice to earn a full shot.

Is this the year the Vikings finally do something about this position in a big way? Maybe. The player to possibly keep an eye on as a potential Mike of the Future for Minnesota is Miami Hurricanes linebacker Denzel Perryman.

At 5-11, 244 pounds Perryman may lack ideal size, but he has good length and scouts love his instincts and tackling ability. One scouting report compares Perryman to London Fletcher, noting that Perryman could have a “long and distinguished” career in the NFL.

There’s also a toughness factor with Perryman that might make him attractive to a guy like Mike Zimmer. One scout said (via

"“I have a little higher grade on Perryman than I probably should, but we like thumpers and badasses inside and he’s both.”"

If there’s an area of concern with Perryman it’s his coverage. Some scouts seem to dismiss the notion that Perryman will be a liability in coverage at the next level but others point out the way teams game-planned to throw at him in college, just to exploit this weakness.

Not that this necessarily proves anything, but Vikings LB coach Adam Zimmer did reportedly speak to Perryman at the Senior Bowl and Perryman says he expects to meet with the Vikings again.

Another piece of possibly useless information: When asked about an NFL comparison, Perryman mentioned former Badgers LB Chris Borland, a player who was perceived as being undersized but who showed the huge impact he could have once he got to the pros.

These comparisons will speak loudly to fans who have gotten sick of watching second-rate players like Jasper Brinkley and Erin Henderson rotate through the Mike position these last few years.

This may finally be the year the Vikings put this problem to bed and draft a guy who can play the Mike at a high level for the next decade. And Denzel Perryman may be the man to get that done. It’s expected that Perryman will still be there early in the second but the Vikes might want to do a classic Rick Spielman trade-back-into-the-late-first to snap this guy up.

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