The Vikings were the subject of many trade rumors heading into the first round of the 2006 draft. Some thought they might move up. Others thought they might move down. But in the end, they stayed where they were at and got Chad Greenway, a linebacker from Iowa that the team felt strongly about and could provide the Vikings defense the spark it needs in the new Tampa-2 defense.
"We feel strongly about this kid," head coach Brad Childress. "He's a squared away kid. He's a heck of a football player. He plays linebacker the way it should be played – he's wide open, he plays recklessly and his coaches (at Iowa) couldn't have said enough good things about him."
The Vikings had Greenway, a three-year starter at Iowa who started 36 of 37 games played the last three years, in their sites for some time. He was one of the players the team brought to Winter Park two weeks ago for a personal workout and, from that point on, he was a player that the team would be an ideal fit in the Vikings system.
"The coaches are very excited, (especially) Mike Tomlin, about having this player added to our football team," said vice president of player personnel Fran Foley. "He fits his (Tampa 2) scheme better than some of the other linebackers that were in this draft."
What was it they liked so much? That Greenway was a tackling machine who could make plays from sideline to sideline. In his three years as a starter, he had 401 tackles with 31 tackles for a loss and seven sacks. As a senior, he had 156 tackles and had 10 or more tackles in 25 of his 32 games.
While the Vikings were confident that they had a good chance of being on the clock with Greenway still on the board, Childress admitted there was a temptation to potentially move up. The front office people were convinced that, based on their scouting of what the teams in front of them were planning, that he had a good chance of remaining on the board.
"Based on what we knew, we sweated a little bit in (the middle of the first round)," Childress said. "We thought some other people coveted him."
As it turned out, nobody took a linebacker between Ernie Sims at No. 9 and Greenway at No. 17 – two quarterbacks, two cornerbacks, two defensive tackles and a defensive end went off in the interim – paving the way for the Vikings to get the guy they wanted.
"We just wanted to get a good player at that position (No. 17) and we didn't reach," Childress said. "We felt the guy had value and he was a guy that was right in there with all those linebackers in terms of a guy we wanted. We were keeping our fingers crossed just on what we knew – the research we had done – that nobody jumped in front of us."
The connections between the Vikings front office and Greenway go way back. Childress was the defensive coordinator for Norm Parker at the University of Illinois in 1979 and Parker gave him a glowing recommendation. So did Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, who was one of Foley's high school coaches. It was easy to find people who had good things to say about Greenway, who won't be handed a starting job right away, but will have a chance to win a starting job.
Where exactly that will be is still subject to debate, but he will be given an opportunity to make an impact.
"We always talk about position flexibility, so there are a number of guys who are going to have play a bunch of different positions," Childress said. "I think he will have to come in and get his feet wet in the NFL game and see how he progresses."
Whatever that learning curve is, the Vikings believe they have landed an ideal candidate for their new-look defense – a player that fits a need as well as fitting the system, which has all the makings of an ideal marriage of team and player.
Vikings Get Their Linebacker
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