NFL Draft: Vikings Hosting LB Paul Dawson, LB Benardrick McKinney


Linebacker continues to be a position of particular focus for the Vikings as Rick Spielman and his staff sort through this year’s draft prospects and line up visits.

More from Vikings Draft

According to Ian Rapoport, a pair of potential first round linebackers are among the large contingent of players set to march through Winter Park today and tomorrow.

In addition to Paul Dawson, a player who has been linked to the Vikings before, Minnesota is hosting Mississippi State linebacker Benardrick McKinney.

Dawson’s particular situation has been well-documented over the past several weeks. The TCU linebacker burst onto the scene last year as a potential first rounder, but his draft stock seemed to take a hit after stories emerged about his poor attitude. Further questions were raised about Dawson’s pro prospects after a less-than-stellar combine performance.

Dawson has done everything in his power to address questions about both his character and on-field ability. The Vikings have shown strong interest in Dawson who could play either the Mike or the Will in Mike Zimmer’s scheme (most experts project him as a Will in the NFL).

Another player whose skills could make him a prospect at multiple linebacker spots is Benardrick McKinney. The 6-4, 264-pound Mississippi State linebacker isn’t the most eye-popping of talents but he does possess good size and athletic ability. Scouts question his range and coverage ability, and there are some who project him as a two-down linebacker at the next level.

Though McKinney does have plenty of versatility, the Mike could be his best position (via

"Productive, steady performer in the middle with above-average size and length for the position but below-average agility. McKinney plays within the scheme and finds himself near the play frequently. He plays with strength and has an ability to take on offensive linemen and get downhill to finish his tackles. McKinney looks like an above-average NFL inside linebacker who could become part of a really good defense. He lacks star-making talent, though."

The Vikings currently have a glaring need at the Mike after letting Jasper Brinkley walk in free agency. Dawson and McKinney are both potential solutions at that position.

Next: Zimmer Works With Byron Jones (Video)

More from The Viking Age