Minnesota Vikings Sign Middle Linebacker Marvin Mitchell

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Minnesota Vikings Sign Middle Linebacker Marvin Mitchell
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Marvin Mitchell, kneeling in prayer, prior to playing the Washington Redskins (Nov. 2011)

On March 16, linebacker Kenny Onatolu signed a three-year contract with the Carolina Panthers. While not an everyday household name, Onatolu was to the Vikings what Corey Graham was for the Bears.

He is a player who has plenty of talent, but is not worthy of starting. Instead, Onatolu and Graham are two of the best special teams players on the planet.

While no longer a part of Minnesota's team, he provided the Vikings with a great boost on special teams. For those unaware—the Vikings were one of the worst special teams in the league from around 2002-2007. Ben Leber was the only bright spot for Minnesota on kickoffs.

With Onatolu gone, many fans were up in arms that the Vikings' special teams group would, once again, be among the worst in the league.

As of April 10, the Vikings have found their replacement for Onatolu, in Marvin Mitchell (via Fox News).

Mitchell, 27, was the New Orleans Saints' seventh-round pick in 2007. Mitchell played college football at Tennessee, where he was known for being one of the hardest-hitting linebacker prospects, due to his 6'3", 250-pound frame.

In his rookie season, according to ESPN, Mitchell recorded nine tackles in 10 games, while only playing on special teams. The following year for Mitchell was nearly the same. He recorded 10 tackles in 15 games during the 2008 season.

In 2009, Mitchell really stepped up his game. Despite only making two starts throughout the season, he recorded 27 tackles and forced a safety. This season, in itself, established Mitchell as one of the best special teams players, in my opinion.

How many tackles will Marvin Mitchell have in 2012?

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On April 20, 2010, the Saints resigned Mitchell to a one-year, $1.01 million contract. New Orleans clearly knew what they were doing by resigning one their core special team players.

The 2010-2011 season, once again, did not conclude with any starts under Mitchell's belt. However, he did see the field in garbage minutes, while still making an impact on special teams.

Mitchell totaled 43 tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles and two safeties. He also deflected two passes and recovered as many fumbles as he forced.

Despite his presence on special teams, the Saints didn't deem him worth resigning, following the 2010 season.

Shortly after a visit with the Cincinnati Bengals, Mitchell signed a one-year deal with the Miami Dolphins.

In his one season in South Beach, Mitchell recorded 30 tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles and an interception. He played in all 16 games, but didn't draw any starts.

This timeline of events leads us to now, where I can say that I'm proud Marvin Mitchell is a member of the Minnesota Vikings. Although he's slightly under Onatolu's bar of talent, Mitchell should be able to not only make the Vikings' roster, but cause an impact on special teams.


Should the Vikings resign E.J. Henderson?

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It's no secret, as well, that the Vikings have some of the weakest depth at linebacker. With E.J. Henderson still a free agent, Minnesota needed all the help it could muster.

For those hoping to see E.J. Henderson next to his brother, Erin, in 2012—keep hoping. It seems as though Minnesota and Henderson may have just agreed to mutually part ways without talk of resigning.

Jasper Brinkley and Marvin Mitchell will likely battle for Minnesota's middle linebacker spot. However, Minnesota often gives their in-house players the first opportunity. Therefore, I wouldn't anticipate Mitchell winning the job.

Nevertheless, I'm excited to see what Mitchell can do in a Minnesota Vikings uniform. Welcome to Minnesota, Marvin Mitchell.

For all things sports, follow Tanner Thoms on Twitter @TannerThoms

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