In an interesting post-draft development, one member of the Minnesota Vikings defense could soon be changing positions.
Sources say #Vikings looking this spring into moving Jayron Kearse from safety to weakside linebacker. The 6-4, 215-pound Kearse was a linebacker in high school. Vikings didn’t draft an outside backer & drafted a safety (Marcus Epps) & signed an undrafted safety (Micah Abernathy)
— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) April 30, 2019
According to Chris Tomasson of the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, Vikings safety Jayron Kearse may be moved to weakside linebacker. Tomasson noted the switch could happen this spring, which gives the fourth-year player plenty of time to learn a new role before the season begins.
Kearse, who was born and raised in Fort Myers, Florida, played some linebacker in high school (according to Tomasson) before transitioning to safety under Dabo Swinney at Clemson. He was a two-year starter at strong safety for the Tigers before being selected in the seventh-round by the Vikings in 2016.
Kearse (6-4, 215) predominantly played special teams during his first three seasons in Minnesota but last year he saw the field more after earning the “big nickel” role. Kearse played a career-high 203 defensive snaps, including 124 in coverage. According to Pro Football Focus he earned a coverage grade of 62.1. Kearse allowed 13 receptions on 16 targets for 89 yards — an average of 6.8 yards per catch. He was credited with one pass breakup, one sack, and his tackling grade of 90.8 was the highest on the team.
It’s too early to tell if this reported position change has anything to do with linebacker Anthony Barr getting more opportunities to rush the passer, but it’s possible that’s an underlying factor in the decision. Or, it could just be Mike Zimmer and the coaching staff wanting to get Kearse more playing time. Either way it’s something to monitor as we draw closer to spring practices and OTAs.