The linebacker is largely considered to be the most glaring need for the Minnesota Vikings as April’s Draft edges closer, but their decision to bring back veteran Marvin Mitchell on Tuesday helps provide them with an insurance plan in case the instant-starter they surely covet in the first two rounds next month doesn’t pan out.

Mitchell signed a one year deal with the Vikings after spending 2012 with the team as a special teams contributor and a two-week starter in place of the injured Erin Henderson.  In those two weeks Mitchell made four tackles, and added five tackles plus a forced fumble on special teams over the course of the year.

Chad Greenway and Erin Henderson are expected to return as starters at their respective outside linebacker spots, but the drama lies in the middle after previous starter Jasper Brinkley was allowed to leave via free agency this offseason.  Mitchell joins a depth chart that includes Audie Cole, Tyrone McKenzie, and Larry Dean.

According to Dan Wiederer of Access Vikings, the team “has not closed the door” on the possibility of Cole competing for the remaining starting spot.  Cole, a seventh round selection last year out of North Carolina State, made his biggest splash last season when he returned interceptions for touchdowns on back-to-back plays against the Buffalo Bills.  He was inactive for 11 games in 2012 and registered no stats, but you have to remember that receiver Jarius Wright was also kept inactive as a rookie until Percy Harvin’s injury forced the Vikings to play him, and he now figures to be a key part of the offense.

The Vikings have reportedly flirted with the idea of bring in Brian Urlacher, which I thought made no sense, but have otherwise not let word leak about any interest in other possible linebackers.  Larry Grant and Karlos Dansby are a few free agents still available that might make sense, but it otherwise looks like the Vikings will be looking to the Draft for that guy capable of leading their defense.

I currently have the Vikings drafting Manti Te’o in the first round of my Mock Draft.

Adam Warwas (Founder) is a case study in how the human male can allow a hobby to turn into a life-consuming obsession. After serving for about three years as the Editor at Vikings Gab, he decided to branch off on his own and start Vikings Territory, hoping someone might accidentally visit the site from time to time. Now, he is thrilled to present you with one of the most comprehensive and analytical Vikings sites that you are going to find. More than anything, he hopes you enjoy reading VT as much as he enjoys putting it together.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Adam, I see you have wide receivers going at picks 16, 17, 24 & 27. I’m not convinced that the signing of Jennings has satisfied the severe need at WR. All that did was replace the departure of Harvin. Aren’t one of those guys good enough for us to select, especially if Austin or Patterson fall to us? I am just not comfortable with this Teo guy, and I have to admit the whole girlfriend magic act is part of the reason. (But if we do take him, you just KNOW he will fall for the old “free Thanksgiving turkey at Lund’s” routine.)

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    • All along, since the beginning, we have talked about how much blue chip talent this draft has on defense. We’ve also talked about the depth and value that can be had at WR in the mid rounds. I think there is a reason Rick has yet to make add any defensive free agents while adding three that play on offense. Just a hunch.

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  2. Yeah, I have followed those thoughts, and I agree. And the hunch is logical. I would normally be all-in for the defensive guys, but just curious when I see those 4 WR picks so close to ours, and wondering if you thought those top two guys would tempt us if they fell.

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    • Yup, I think all four are tempting for sure. Each has been one of my “draft target” subjects. I just think some great talent is going to fall to us on the defensive side. And, yes, I think Te’o is a great talent.

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      • Do you think Te’o will fall to the 2nd round? What’s your thoughts on Arthur Brown? I have a softball buddy that’s a huge K-State fan…He says he’s the real deal.

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        • Hey CC, I don’t think Te’o escapes the first round, no. In fact, I think there is still a decent chance that someone ahead of us (Bengals) selects him.

          I’m warming up to Brown a little more, but still feel like we would be investing a first rounder into a two-down linebacker. I think Te’o is the only LB the Vikes should consider using a first rounder on, personally. But a lot of people disagree with me there, so take it for what it is worth…

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  3. I think people need to realize that our defense really needs an infusion of young talent. Harrison Smith is the only guy recently drafted on that side of the ball that I see being a Pro Bowl caliber player long term for us. Griffen could be if he stays here and they make him a starter and the book is still open on Robinson who certainly has the athleticism to be a shut down corner, but who else on this defense would you point at and say, hey, this guy could be special? Rebuilding the defense is mandatory in this years draft, so I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they decided to wait until the 2nd or even 3rd round before adding another wide receiver. That’s not to say they shouldn’t jump on a receiver in the first round if they have one that grades out, but if they don’t spend some premium picks on their defense that unit could go from being really respectable to one of the worst in the league a year or two from now.

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    • That’s a pretty solid post, Dan, darn hard to argue with much there. I take it you are not a Cook fan, and I would ask, are you considering Greenway already too old to be in your top tier list on our future defenses?

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      • I think Cook can be a great player, but you can’t help the team from the tub and he’s a free agent next year, so it’s hard to say he’s in the teams future plans. Even if he comes out and starts all 16 games this year and has a pro bowl season you have to wonder if they would trust him enough to do a long term deal. I was excluding all the 30 or almost 30 year old players, so B-Rob and Greenway don’t factor in for me, and while they are both very solid players for our defense, I don’t think either one of them keeps offensive coodinators up at night. Whenever your talking about the draft you have to be looking a couple years ahead and the defense is where I see the most problems. Just look at the lines. Offensively we know the Sully, Loadholt, and Kalil will be there and Fusco has potential. On defense Allen, Robison, and Griffen are all on the last year of their deals, Allen is over 30, Robison I believe is right around there, Williams is 30+, in decline, and has a high cap #, and the rest of the backups fit the “just guys” mold. It’s highly unlikely they re-sign all three defensive ends, so even though that will be a team strength this year they really need to add a guy with some potential to that group. I still have some hopes for D. Reed, but they signed a journeyman off the streets instead of activating him last year when Robison got hurt. Not exactly a vote of confidence from the organization.

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  4. mitchell was probably cheap insurance for a known quantity, so can’t blame them for signing him at a position of need

    spielman has preached a forward-looking, long term approach, so an infusion of youth on the D-line is coming for sure, with a priority on DT, plus a LB that we need to start right away, and we need a D-back. that’s at least 3 or 4 draft picks right there, just on defense. also gotta re-sign winfield. i don’t even know that k-will won’t get ‘winfielded’ this year

    that being said, we’ve got a crucial year coming up for ponder at the team’s most important position. jennings was just a swap for harvin, and we already knew we needed more help at WR before that swap. if we don’t figure out the QB position, we could be set back again for years, and that might lead to going through more changes at HC, and eventually GM, too. i’m sure spielman and frazier know that a crap QB can be a coach killer or GM killer, and ponder’s progression is at the maturity level where he’s got to show something or a decision has to be made against him. we’ve got recent first round picks invested at QB and left tackle, so i wouldn’t be surprised to see us take a WR high in this draft, and then again in later rounds

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