5 Options to Fill the Minnesota Vikings Hole at Middle Linebacker

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5 Options to Fill the Minnesota Vikings Hole at Middle Linebacker
Allen Steele/Getty Images
Scott Studwell

The Minnesota Vikings did a lot to address their needs in the 2013 NFL draft. Minnesota stole the show on the first day with three first-round selections, all of which filled important needs.

With the 23rd, 25th and 29th picks in Round 1, the Vikings selected defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, cornerback Xavier Rhodes and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, respectively.  All three players have tremendous potential and fill spots on the roster where the team was thin.

There's one position that the Vikings didn't address in the draft: middle linebacker. Last year's starter, Jasper Brinkley, signed a free-agent deal with the Arizona Cardinals in the offseason. With Brinkley's departure, Minnesota was left with a hole in the middle of its defense.

The Vikings have a rich history at the middle linebacker position. Over the years, such players as Jeff Siemon, Scott Studwell, E.J. Henderson, Lonnie Warwick, Mike Merriweather and Jack Del Rio have manned the MLB spot in Minnesota.

Those are some big shoes to fill.

Currently, there's no NFL-proven middle linebacker on the Vikings roster. In Minnesota's Cover 2 scheme, the "mike" linebacker is extremely important. This middle 'backer is responsible for calling the defensive signals, stuffing the run game and covering the middle third of the field in the passing game.

While the position remains in flux, the Vikings have several options available to them to fill this crucial spot on their defense. The possibilities range from using someone already on the roster to starting a rookie at the spot to picking up a veteran linebacker in free agency.

The following slideshow examines Minnesota's options at the middle linebacker position. The slides are arranged from the least likely to the most likely scenarios.

We'll look at each candidate and consider his college and NFL history. We'll take stock of both experience and potential. Finally, we'll appraise how likely the candidate is to assume the inside linebacker role on the Minnesota defense in 2013.

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