Questioning the Vikings' MLB options

If the Vikings are looking to draft a middle linebacker in the first round, there are a number different pros and cons to each of them. One NFL scout broke down the differences, the most underrated with the highest upside … and the concerns for some of them.

If the Vikings are looking for a middle linebacker in the first round of the draft, opinions differ on the worthiness of the different possibilities.

Up until the revelation that Manti Te'o's girlfriend was really an Internet hoax and his lackluster performance in the National Championship Game, he was considered easily a first-round lock and likely even drawing attention in the top half of the first round. But after struggling in the final game of his Notre Dame career and running a 4.82-second 40-yard dash that left something to be desired, questions started to arise about his ability to cover tight ends and running backs in the NFL and whether he was worthy of a first-round pick if he would be a liability on passing downs.

Dave-Te Thomas of The NFL Draft Report belives Te'o (6-foot-1, 241) needs a strong supporting cast in the linebacker corps to accentuate his abilities. If the decision is between Te'o and LSU's Kevin Minter (6-0, 246, 4.81), Thomas sees a big difference.

"Te'o is a great chaser. Te'o is the type of guy who needs to play middle linebacker but be supported by two very physical outside linebackers," said Thomas, who submits his reports to the NFL and several teams. "If I want physicality out of my middle linebacker, I'm not looking at him at all. I'm looking at Minter.

"Minter can definitely cover. In fact, I wouldn't be embarrassed about using Minter on the outside. You know who Minter reminds me of? Years ago, used to play with Buffalo, came out of Alabama State, Eddie Robinson, Minter reminds me of him. An intelligent kid. … (Sam) Montgomery and (Barkevious) Mingo, he kept those guys in line. It was him who was positioning those guys. Those guys are going to have a problem in the NFL unless they have a Minter type with them. The thing I like about Minter is he knows everybody's assignments. He's not a great middle linebacker and he's not a great outside linebacker, but he's a very good team-concept ballplayer."

Alec Ogletree (6-2½, 242, 4.7) of Georgia and Arthur Brown (6-0, 241) of Kansas State are considered outside linebackers by some, but others believe they could be placed at middle linebacker, too.

Ogletree, a former safety, is considered one of the best athletes among the linebacker prospects, but there are concerns about his character after an arrest for DUI before the NFL Scouting Combine.

"Not only Oglegree's character but Ogletree's brain," Thomas said when asked for his assessment of Ogletree. "Outside of quarterback, my smartest guy on the football field has to be my middle linebacker. I don't think that Ogletree has a conception of what to do on the field but go ahead and tackle people. My problem with Ogletree is his maturity level on and off the field."

Some question if Brown can play middle linebacker, but Thomas said there is only one linebacker spot he wouldn't play Brown.

"Brown is the most underrated linebacker in this draft. Can he play inside? Definitely. Can he play outside? On the weak side, yes. I wouldn't use him as a strong-side linebacker," Thomas said. "As far as the middle linebackers go, I think he's got better upside than any linebacker in this draft. I don't think he will be there when Round 2 comes up. I think someone at the tail end of one, like Chicago or even Minnesota, will probably end up popping on Brown."

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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