A bright spot for the Vikings has been the flashes of brilliance displayed by rookie Patrick Chukwurah this season.
Drafted in the fifth round (157th overall) this spring as a strongside linebacker by the Vikings, Chukwurah has been a mild surprise this season in the contributions he's been able to make as just a rookie.
The Nigerian-born Chukwurah (6-foot-1, 239 pounds and 4.65 in the 40-yard dash) is very explosive off the ball and can really bring it off the edge as a pass rusher. The key, as he develops, will be finding the right role for him in the Vikings defense.
At this point, it looks like his best long-range potential might be as a pass-rush specialist at defensive end, although he can still run and move in the open field.
"I think he's an end," Vikings coach Dennis Green said recently. "I see Chuk as a guy that has to learn to play end at 260, 270 pounds. He's about 255 now, but he's a very explosive player. He missed some games because of injury, but I think now that he is getting into a groove we expect him to really finish strong as a nickel rusher. There's a role. You can be a nickel rusher.
"That's enough for a guy to go out and do real well at it because of the amount of plays he gets. He'll get a lot of plays playing that position, because teams use a lot of three wide receivers, and we think he'll be effective. He's a very explosive football player."
"If the only thing a guy can do in the NFL is rush the passer, that's enough," a former scout with the Vikings once told VU. "There's definitely a spot for pass rushers here."
Chukwurah doesn't seem to care where; he just wants to play. "I'm just playing where I am needed," he said. "I did a little bit of that in college. Actually, you can say I did a lot of that pass-rushing wise. I was more of a two-point standup, 3-4 defensive rush backer. Basically it's not a matter if I am comfortable. I've got to do what I've got to do. If they want me playing there, that's where I'm going to play."
The other noticable asset he's brought is his intensity for the game.
"I'm a hungry player," Chukwurah said. "I stay hungry. I love the game whether we are doing good or whether we are doing bad. You have that love for the game regardless. So I'm just going to go out there, keep on trying to play hard like I've been doing."
When asked about whether he was more comfortable at linebacker or defensive end, or if hitting the quarterback feels the same from either position, he said, "Oh yeah. Same feeling. Great feeling, same feeling. It's all ball."
Chukwurah Explosive Everywhere
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