That is not a typo, the Vikings have signed a linebacker named Mike Zimmer, who was previous on the Jaguars roster as well as a player for Illinois State from 2009-2012. They have also signed linebacker Dom Decicco, an undrafted free agent in 2011 out of Pittsburgh that signed with the Chicago Bears, then Tampa Bay Buccaneers (BEFORE Lovie Smith arrived). Decicco played strong safety in college but was converted to linebacker by the Bears (who did the same to Urlacher out of New Mexico, sort of—he played a hybrid “Lobo” role, a mix between SS and MLB).
They also waived former Iowa guard Conor Boffeli and former Missouri Western quarterback Travis Patridge.
Zimmer played in three preseason games for the Jaguars, but didn’t do much in those preseason games, logging 38 snaps. While at Illinois State, Zimmer played across all three linebacker positions but primarily played middle linebacker. Zimmer is somewhat unimpressive athletically, posting a respectable 4.72 40-yard dash at his Pro Day, but at a worrisome 235 pounds. His 22 reps on the bench press are adequate for the position as well, and the rest of his agility and explosion scores check out.
It remains to be seen if he will be listed as anything other than a weakside linebacker, but figures to have signed on for his special teams contributions.
Given that head coach Mike Zimmer has indicated a preference for those who flash athletic ability and teachability as priorities for signings, then it’s probably true that Zimmer the player is faster in pads than on the test track, and plays with a level of precision or instinct that’s appealing.
Of note, both head coach Mike Zimmer and current Vikings linebacker Mike Zimmer were linebackers at Illinois State.
Dom Decicco primarily played as a strong safety for Pittsburgh, but was converted to the middle linebacker position with the Bears—tasked to cover the deep middle in pass coverage in their Tampa-2 system. He was projected as a weakside linebacker before the draft, and it’s hardly a surprise that that meant Tampa-2 MLB to Lovie Smith.
He doesn’t have the fluidity to play safety in the NFL, but is a good enough cover player (mostly in zone) to be an option at outside linebacker (again, traditionally as a WLB) with good instincts for the run and an aggressiveness that probably appealed to Mike Zimmer (the coach). He gets off blocks surprisingly well for his size and tackles well, reading the flow of the run well. He needs to be more instinctive (or at least trust himself more) in coverage, but plays the game mindfully and has a reputation for on-field smarts and film-study. He has been a good special teams player for the Bears. He also did well but not spectacularly in the preseason for the Buccaneers.
We should be careful not to draw too much meaning from this, but it COULD mean that the Vikings are happy with their camp depth at guard and quarterback (this would be fantastic news for Teddy and Yankey fans) but a bit worried about their linebacker depth (not a huge shock)—with players like Larry Dean and Gerald Hodges put on notice.