Yes, this a little soon to be talking draft. I'm not like Mel Kiper Jr. who eats, breaths, and poops it out every day. I really don't get excited until the first week of April. Still, with all the talk of Tampa Two and the need to improve at linebacker in order to institute the new defensive scheme we best take a look at who might be out there for the Purple to select.
A.J. HAWK: OLB; Thee Ohio St.: OK, the Vikes currently pick at seventeen. I stress, currently. Remember that Zygi Wilf promises to open up the checkbook and do what it takes to reach the and win the Super Bowl. So, it would not surprise me if the Vikes moved up to whatever position they needed to (probably 4th or 5th) in order to select Hawk. And I would love it.
Hawk is as productive and instinctive of a linebacker as you will ever find and is seemingly always around the action, so bringing him in to be part of this improving defense would be an excellent move by the Vikings. Hawk is exactly what this team needs from both a talent and attitude perspective so he is my top pick currently.
CHAD GREENWAY: OLB; Iowa: Here is a linebacker that could actually be around at #17 or would only require the Vikings to move up 2 to 4 spots to get him. A potential Top 5 overall pick coming into his senior year, Greenway had a nice season but it was obvious all the losses the Hawkeyes endured up front affected him. His loss is the Vikings gain though as it allows them to get excellent value for the pick while addressing a need at the same time.
DEMECO RYANS: OLB; Alabama: Ryans would most certainly be available at number seventeen. He is an excellent player who will fit in with what the Vikes will try to do both in terms of talent and intangibles. DeMeco Ryans isn't the biggest or fastest linebacker out there but he is simply a playmaker with outstanding instincts who is very productive and seemingly always around the action.
THOMAS HOWARD: OLB; U.T.E.P.: A real wild card simply because of the new Tampa Two setup. And Howard really intrigues me because of that. The Tampa Two style that newly hired defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin will try to implement requires speed on defense and when it comes to that you would have a hard time finding a faster, more athletic linebacker than Thomas Howard. A former safety who walked on with the Miners early in his career, Thomas has been timed as fast as 4.45 in the forty and would provide the type of playmaking ability that is ideal for the new defensive scheme.
So, any other linebackers catch your eye this college season that the Vikes should be looking at? Leave a comment at the end of this blog entry.
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