General NewsSpeculation

Henderson To Man The Middle For Now

Some hack bloggers (anybody know one?) thought it was highly likely the Vikings would target a middle linebacker early in the Draft.  Other media types, including one guy who should return a paycheck to his employer for this clunker, thought it was a “100% certainty” that the Vikings would draft Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o in the first round.

They didn’t target a middle linebacker early on.  They didn’t wind up with Te’o… or Alec Ogletree… or Arthur Brown… or Kevin Minter.

In fact, they didn’t draft one until the seventh round, when they selected Michael Mauti from Penn State.  Mauti has the talent to be selected much earlier, but an injury history that rivals that of Humpty Dumpty.

Rick Spielman may have, for the second year in a row, used a little misdirection to lead to all of that speculation about the position.  Instead, he may have been planning to use Erin Henderson at that spot all along, and the proof of this might be the fact that Henderson has already packed on an extra eight or nine pounds in preparation for his possible move to the inside.  Another bit of proof might be that the Vikings quickly signed him to a two year deal worth $4 million, which seemed a little out of place considering how long they let him dangle on the free agent market last offseason before signing him to a one year prove-it deal.

Now that players are starting to flood Winter Park to take part in the offseason programs, things are perhaps starting to come into focus a little more, and we do know that the Vikings are planning on having Henderson play in the middle as of now.  This, of course, is a very similar path that his brother E,J. took to becoming a very solid middle linebacker for the Vikings.

Henderson has struggled with pass coverage at times, but he is quite a bit more athletic than last year’s starter Jasper Brinkley was, and could cover more ground.  Then, if someone like rookie Gerald Hodges can step into the weakside spot, the Vikings may have themselves a much faster group of linebackers than what we saw in 2012.  Considering the amount of mobile quarterbacks on the schedule this coming season, that might just be a key to their potential success, and is certainly something interesting to follow at the very least.

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Adam Warwas

Adam Warwas (Founder) has been writing about the Vikings for a total of eight years. Five of those years have been here at Vikings Territory where he continues to surround himself with enough talented individuals that people keep coming back. As proud as he is of what Vikings Territory has become, his real treasures are in his home... a beautiful wife and three amazing children (and a dog named Percy).

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  1. So, little bro will give it a go in the middle. I tell ya, he better be careful packing on those pounds, they can make you slow. I’m sure it’s a healthy weight gain, he is a pro.

    1. Good point, we don’t want Erin to be fat AND a terrible linebacker! It’s much better to be thin and terrible than fat and terrible.

      1. “Fragile Fred’s comment about fat people do not reflect the views of the Miami Dolphins. We believe in a culture of inclusiveness and respect, and any statements to the contrary are in no way acceptable to our organization.”

        1. Tweeter from Fragile Freds…….. “bite me you bumbass spineless fish”.

            1. Sorry guys, the Twitter Thingy, as we grew to know and love it, is now dead. I don’t know all the technical mumle-jumble (Brett does) but they essentially changed the product/service and it no longer works for us.

              Brett is looking for an alternative.

  2. Henderson fun fact:
    As a High School QB in 2003, Henderson threw 20 TDs and lead his team to a State Championship.

    This year for the Vikings Henderson needs to show some instint in pass coverage. I am guessing Hodges will get some playing time in place of Henderson in some pass coverage packages.

    Hodges upgrades the pass coverage ability in our base defense for sure. The Vikings ran a lot of nickel last year, it will be interesting to see if the Vikings use a base defense more this year.

    If our big corners can disrupt the WRs on the outside… and if Greenway, Henderson and Hodges can hang with the backs, slot and TEs long enough for Floyd, Williams, Robinson and Allen to turn up some heat… the base defense could be much better against the pass this year.

  3. This doesnt sound like a very good move to me. Erin is average at best on the outside and don’t see him being better in the middle. Hope he proves me wrong

  4. My greatest concern is the lack of experience at the position. I believe this makes the third MLB in three years. Much like QB, stability at this position is very important. I know it can’t be helped right now, but the sooner we get a consistent MLB, the better our defense will be. Can Erin be there for several years?

    On the other hand, with the division becoming so pass happy, we no longer need to stop the likes of Walter Payton, Barry Sanders or Ahman Green. So maybe a defensive backfield and pass rush is a greater priority than a top notch MLB. Time will tell. Your mobile QB factor is also a worthy consideration, Adam.

  5. Jared Allen will be on the Jim Rome show in about 15 minutes, just sayin’ (Posted at 9:57 am, Alaska time)

  6. Well we’ll have to give them the benefit of the doubt, They didn’t Sign A.J.Jefferson till the week before the start of the season.
    Hopefully if they feel they don’t have the answer. They attempt to solve it much sooner.

  7. I saw the Bears have already started to sign their draft picks. Are the Vikings going to be one of the last teams to sign theirs as usual? I can never understand why they always wait so long to do so.

  8. It’s worth an try. Hell, Erin couldn’t play outside linebacker worth a darn, so perhaps having him move in to test out that spot makes some sense. If it proves to be a failed experiment, just move him to 3rd string QB.

    Greg Biekert? Bring him back. Dude can still play.