As the Minnesota Vikings look to build up their roster after several free-agent losses, one position of need that remains is linebacker.
Chad Greenway’s retirement created an opening at weakside linebacker. For now, there is expected competition between Emmanuel Lamur and Edmond Robinson, but the Vikings are probably going to supplement that with an additional linebacker or two in the draft. That’s why a predraft visit from Elijah Lee, as reported by the New Orleans Picayune, makes sense.
Lee earned his way on the field immediately at Kansas State and set the school record for freshman with 4½ sacks and continued to progress in his overall game from there. As a sophomore, he led the Wildcats with 80 tackles, adding five sacks and three interceptions, and last year had 110 tackles, two interceptions and 1½ sacks. His final-year showing included five games with double-digit tackles.
At 6-foot-2, 229, he might be forced to rely on his speed and other strong points among his assets to make up for a lack of physicality. He is good at chasing down ball carriers, whether it is across the field or meeting them in the backfield, according to NFL.com, but isn’t as strong taking on and shedding blocks.
That second part is important if Lee is going to be relied upon as a weakside linebacker that will be on the field mostly during running downs and destined for the sidelines on third down with Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks the proven three-down backers in the Vikings’ system.
That also could be contributing to an otherwise productive linebacker being tabbed as a sixth- or seventh-round projection, according to NFLDraftScout.com.
Lee appears to have the required skills and frame to play the position in the NFL, but it could take a year of tutoring to get his techniques in shape and consistent enough to be a contributor on defense. In the meantime, however, the Vikings haven’t been shy about mid- to late-round linebackers contributing on special teams while they hone their defensive skills.