Vikings have outside options at linebacker

The Vikings have addressed many of their defensive needs, but linebacker remains without a significant signing in free agency. The draft holds a couple of possibilities beyond the top two outside linebackers.

The Vikings have addressed most of their glaring needs in free agency, but one obvious hole remains.

They remade their defensive line with the signings of nose tackle Linval Joseph, defensive end Everson Griffen, and versatile linemen Corey Wootton and Tom Johnson, and parting ways with Jared Allen, Kevin Williams and Letroy Guoin.

The defensive backfield was targeted, too, with the signing of cornerback Captain Munnerlyn.

But one level of the defense – linebacker – remains a need. The only known activity there during free agency was a visit from Jameel McClain and initial interest in D'Qwell Jackson. But no significant signings were made at linebacker (Jasper Brinkley was added as insurance), leaving potential draft picks and talent already on the roster to fight it out for the openings there.

One draft prospect that has been mentioned as a potential second-round target for the Vikings is BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy.

"I like Kyle Van Noy as an on-the-line outside backer or even off of the line in space," said Senior Bowl director Phil Savage, a former NFL scout and general manager. "He showed a real good versatility in terms of being able to do multiple things. He can play over a tight end, he can walk out over a slot, he can blitz the quarterback."

That versatility will come in handy in Mike Zimmer's defensive scheme that will be new to the Vikings. They will be asked to make more progressive reads and play more man defense.

Van Noy is heralded as much for his intelligence and instinctiveness as his physical presence.

He played in all 52 games for BYU, registering 226 tackles, 26 sacks, seven interceptions, 11 forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. As a senior, he was named to nearly every preseason watch list and earned FBS All-Independent first-team honors and FBS Independent Defensive Player of the Year, among other awards.

"I think he's going to be a solid choice for somebody, likely in the second round," Savage said. "I think he'll go on and be a solid starter for someone for sure."

If the Vikings want to strike sooner at linebacker, another possibility is to trade down in the first round and target C.J. Mosley. Many consider him a middle linebacker, but NFL scout Dave-Te' Thomas said Mosley would be a good fit on the outside in a 4-3 defense.

Mosley was a two-time first-team All-American selection (2012-2013) for Alabama and the 2013 Butkus Award winner (the nation's top linebacker) and Bednarik Award finalist (nation's top defensive player) finalist. He was ultra-productive for the Crimson Tide with 106 tackles last year.

Savage agrees with Thomas' assessment that Mosley might be best on the outside in a 4-3 defense.

"I like C.J. a lot. I saw him play all four years of his career. Very athletic defender," Savage said. "I think his best fit is as a (weakside linebacker) in the 4-3 or as a counterpart on the inside of a 3-4 to the (middle linebacker). He's a four-down player. He can excel against the run, he's very good going laterally and chasing to the outside. He's excellent in pass coverage. Got very good instincts. And he played special teams his entire career at Alabama. C.J., if his medical exam is clear — he had a shoulder, had a hip during his time at Alabama — then I think that you'll see him go in the top 20 or so."

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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