Minnesota Vikings meet with a top linebacker

The Vikings are preparing for life after Chad Greenway, even if that’s one more year away.

Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman sound pretty confident Chad Greenway will be returning for one more season, but whether that happens or not the Vikings have to begin preparations for life after Greenway.

One of the possibilities at their spot in the first round is Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Darron Lee, who weighed in at 232 pounds but said he usually plays about five pounds heavier.

“That’s ample for me carrying it around,” he said Friday of his usual playing weight between 235 and 238 pounds. “I just didn’t really eat a lot this morning. A little bit of nerves.

“I can play at that weight. I have really no concerns about it, to be honest with you. As long as I’m able to play fast, that’s all that matters to me.”

Lee was interviewing with the Vikings on Friday night, he said, one of 60 formal 15-minute interviews each NFL team is allowed at the NFL Scouting Combine.

He is one of the new breed of linebackers in the NFL, where speed is seemingly more in demand every year, even on defense and even with positions that might have required more brawn than burst a decade ago.

“I feel linebackers are changing in the league, to be honest – a lot smaller. There aren’t really too many bigger guys,” Lee said. “The game is getting faster and you need guys to cover. You’re starting to see that change a lot this year in the league.

“I think getting more speed to those defenses, I know a lot of teams are looking for speed. I feel that’s something I’ll be able to do, me tuning up my technique and becoming more of a linebacker over these next couple of years, that will help me out.”

No doubt the Vikings will be able to get plenty of information on Lee with Spielman’s connections to Ohio State. In fact, Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer was shown talking with Spielman and Zimmer Saturday while watching on-field workouts.

Lee looks to Deone Buccanon as a similar skill set in the NFL. Bucannon, the 6-foot-1, 211-pound outside linebacker, had 112 tackles and three sacks with the Arizona Cardinals last year, his second season in the NFL.

“He plays with a high motor. He’s resembling the speed that you’re going to need to play in this league,” Lee said. “Like I said before, this game is getting a lot faster and he resembles that. He’s a little slimmer than what people say is a prototypical linebacker. But he plays the game fast. He plays aggressive. I think that’s what his coaches care for.”

In addition, Lee seems to have the intangibles that the Vikings desire in their draft prospects.

“Play with a passion and energy, that’s just my game. I like getting my guys hyped up so they can go and make a play. That’s what I’m all about,” he said. “I’ve always been about that from when I was yay high and that won’t stop when I get to the league.”

He said he’s still learning the position and is only a couple weeks away from going on three years at the position, but that hasn’t stopped the Vikings before. Their 2013 first-round pick at linebacker, Anthony Barr, played in the offensive backfield for the first two years of his career.

Lee played cornerback and quarterback in high school, but quickly made the transition to linebacker upon entering Ohio State. He said being a former quarterback can also help him diagnose tendencies of opposing quarterbacks as he stares them down from across the line of scrimmage.

His size doesn’t bother him a bit, saying it is a perfect mesh with the timing of how NFL defenses are transitioning.

“I’d say it’s a perfect transition. The stars aligned in that aspect. I can’t really say, I don’t really know why the game is getting a lot faster,” he said. “It’s more of a passing league and the quarterback is getting the ball out quicker and making linebackers run. That’s all I know. That’s all I’ve been seeing on Sundays.”


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