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2014 Minnesota Vikings: Vikings Sign LB Mike Zimmer, LB Dom Decicco and Waive OG Conor Boffeli and QB Travis Partridge

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.

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  1. Bummer.

    Missouri Western quarterback Travis Patridge.

    Was one of my favorite UDFA pickups.

    1. Agreed, I guess they want Teddy to get as many reps as possible. It’s pretty odd to only carry three QB’s into training camp, maybe he’ll be back if he isn’t picked up by another team.

  2. What is going on with the LBs? I think we have about 15 on the roster now. Big picture you can see some things happening with the DL + Barr, and I would argue that the secondary is suggesting certain trends (anchored by Harrison and Rhodes, with safeties who cover and aggressive DBs that try to upset WR routes and timing – at this point also very team oriented as they don’t have the individual talent to leave the #3, 4, 5 DB alone). But LB? I can’t decide if I think Zimmer knows exactly how to use Greenway for a renaissance year or if he’s going to cut him in training camp. I haven’t heard anything about Cole or Mauti or Hodges – are they intriguing? Do they have roles? Jasper Brinkley? Situational and ST guy or a starter? And what’s with these small but fast coverage LBs? Is this some new NFC north specific wrinkle specially designed to flummox divisional QBs by making defense about a run stuffing DL and then a bunch of hybrid DB/LB coverage thingies? Sort of simultaneous safety linebackers?? You gotta admit, given how many throwers there are today, how many TEs that are like WRs, how many space players and pass catching RBs there are, do you really need LBs who can stand up a guard anymore? How many times a game does that happen even? Or do you want guys who can swarm to any player with ball, who can stay with TEs, who can take down Reggie Bush, etc?

    If you think about it this, signing Brinkley starts making sense for obvious running situations. I gotta hope that Zimmer has more of a plan than throwing a dozen LBs at the wall and seeing if any stick.

  3. good to hear from ya, coach…..figured you were at the owner’s meetings putting in a good word for MN for the super bowl…..

    1. Hey Krug, thanks. Still here too, huh? Nice. Best to stay as far away as possible from those owners meetings. They wear suits!

  4. Sorry for the stream of consciousness above, but I keep thinking about this. I’ve been rereading scouting reports of various players, and two guys really jump out at me as being primed for the Zimmer effect: Hodges and Robinson.

    Hodges was a former safety converted to LB, better in coverage than run support, with the speed and athleticism to go sideline to sideline. His biggest problem seems to be his attitude/motor.

    Robinson was, I believe, the fastest player in his draft. He’s described frequently as a raw corner with fluid hips and insane athleticism (speed and hops). Some say he’s best at zone, others at man to man. Biggest knock isn’t his size but his lack of technique.

    My question is – why aren’t we more excited about these guys as prospects? Why do I feel like more people are excited by Prater than Robinson? I guess the point I’m getting at is Robinson fits the vibe of this draft to a T, but because he was played out of position and left to die there long after he was already dead by a coaching stuff that looked, in hindsight, woefully underprepared to admit mistakes and make adjustments on one of the worst defenses in Vikings history? I don’t get why people are so high Prater and Exun but completely write off Robinson, or even Sanford? Sanford has posted some legit coverage numbers. Maybe our secondary just needs some good coaching – the mold able prospects are already there.