Vikings Show Interest in MLB

The Vikings have a lot of potential starting candidates at middle linebacker, but no one that has definitively grabbed the reins on the position, which might be why the team interviewed a draft-eligible middle linebacker at the NFL Combine and showed an interest in him at the East-West Shrine game.

Ohio State's Anthony Schlegel sees himself as a pure middle linebacker, a player who takes on blocks to free up his teammates on the outside.

That philosophy puts Schlegel as a fifth-round draft value, according to TFY Draft Preview, while his linebacker counterparts A.J. Hawk (early first-round pick) and Bobby Carpenter (early second-round projection) could go higher.

Schlegel, who interviewed informally with the Vikings at the combine, seems to care much more about what kind of defensive system he will play in than which round he selected in.

"You've got to look at the whole draft thing as the first step in getting into the NFL. Then you've got to go prove yourself in camp. It really doesn't matter (what round players are drafted), you still have to go there and fit in," Schlegel said.

Still, Schlegel spent his time at the combine and his pro day trying to prove to NFL scouts and coaches that he has the speed to make plays all over the football field. He referenced several times that he just wanted to find a team and defense that fit his skill set.

"A lot of people think that I'm not a sideline-to-sideline guy and that I'm slow," he said. "That's my biggest thing that I've got to prove, that I can run anything under a 4.9."

He did that, running a 4.84 and 4.81 in late February in Indianapolis, where he also met with the Chargers and Saints. The Vikings were also among the teams that attended his pro day last month – probably every NFL team had representatives with all the pro talent Ohio State stocks on its roster.

In 2005, he was a big part of the Buckeyes' No. 1-ranked rushing defense, finishing second on the team with 82 tackles, seven TFLs and two sacks. He likely would be only a run-down linebacker at the NFL, but few people question his love for contact.

"I'm pretty sure he has killed off enough brain cells it doesn't matter to him anymore, but when he comes in there he will just rock you with his skull," OSU center Nick Mangold told Bucnuts Magazine. "It's horrible. Every day as soon as you hear, ‘We are going to do this,' and I have Schlegel I know here it comes. Here is the headache for the rest of the day. He really comes in and hits it."

With Air Force, Schlegel was a team captain and racked up 118 tackles in 2002 and gained all-conference honors. He is also extremely strong. He was a record-breaking weight lifter in high school, setting the dead lift record for the 19-and-under 220- and 240-pound weight division with lifts of 662 and 672 pounds.

Schlegel had the luxury of attending the combine with the entire back seven from Ohio State's defense to share in the experience, including Hawk and Carpenter.

The combine was an interesting experience for every player, but Schlegel also realizes that NFL franchises have a right to all the information they can gather at the February cattle call, especially when so much money and so many reputations are on the line.

"They are examining you and really trying to pick you apart as a person. They're making a business decision on you, so they have every right to poke and prod you and put you through the rigors of the whole combine experience," he said.

Two months later, we'll finally find out if the Vikings are still interested in the quality middle linebacker who has helped elevate the status of his teammates.

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