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  1. #1
    singersp's Avatar
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    Linebackers for the taking: Vikings have plenty to pick from

    Posted on Tue, Feb. 28, 2006

    [size=18px]Linebackers for the taking[/size]

    Vikings will have plenty to pick from in draft

    BY SEAN JENSEN
    Pioneer Press


    INDIANAPOLIS — Scouts and coaches often have contrasting opinions on players and positions at the NFL combine.

    But most agree on the deepest and most talented position for the 2006 rookie class.

    "From what I've gathered, linebacker is the deepest position," Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera said. "There are going to be a couple of diamonds you can find in the third, fourth and fifth rounds."

    Fran Foley, the Vikings' vice president of player personnel, acknowledged that linebacker is an "area of strength" for April's draft, a point that bodes well for his club. The Vikings have five linebackers under contract, four of whom — Rod Davis, Napoleon Harris, E.J. Henderson and Dontarrious Thomas — have started at least one NFL game. But the Vikings, who also have undrafted free agent Heath Farwell on the roster, need to add depth at that position.

    Veterans Sam Cowart, Keith Newman and Raonall Smith are unrestricted free agents. Cowart and Newman do not appear to fit Minnesota's new Cover Two scheme, which requires speed and range. Newman, for instance, was mostly used as a pass rusher, and his ability to drop into coverage was not a strength.

    During a news conference Friday, Vikings coach Brad Childress did not give either Newman or Cowart a ringing endorsement. He declined to answer a question about Newman. As for Cowart, Childress praised him but concluded, "We know what he can do. We're looking for what else is out there as well, both in free agency and the draft."

    Harris, Thomas and Smith are heralded for their speed, and Davis and Henderson also could function in the Cover Two.

    There is a solid group of veterans available in free agency, most notably Will Witherspoon (Carolina Panthers) and Julian Peterson (San Francisco 49ers). Other veteran linebackers include Keith Adams (Philadelphia Eagles), Akin Ayodele (Jacksonville Jaguars), Warrick Holdman (Washington Redskins), Tommy Polley (Baltimore Ravens), Saleem Rasheed (49ers), Derek Smith (49ers), Nate Webster (Cincinnati Bengals) and Jamie Winborn (Jaguars).

    But more veterans are expected to be released as NFL teams scramble to get below the salary cap. As of Sunday, there were at least a dozen teams over the anticipated salary cap of $92 million, including eight that need to trim at least $12 million.

    The depth in the draft, however, certainly empowers the Vikings to be picky.

    The most trumpeted rookie linebacker is A.J. Hawk of Ohio State, who is expected to be a top-10 pick. Three others could be attractive to the Vikings, who have the 17th pick: Ernie Sims (Florida State), DeMeco Ryan (Alabama) and Thomas Howard (Texas-El Paso) are projected as first-round selections.

    Without naming players, Kevin Colbert of the Pittsburgh Steelers said there is an abundance of middle linebackers.

    "Inside linebacker is probably the strongest group I've seen in 20-some years I've done this," said Colbert, the Steelers' director of football operations. "It's strong at the top, strong in the middle, and there are some kids on the second day that will be contributors, if not starters."

    Colbert should know about this position, as the Steelers boast arguably the NFL's best group, featuring Joey Porter, James Farrior, Clark Haggans and Larry Foote.

    But Colbert said teams should not bank on a rookie thriving like Lofa Tatupu and Shawne Merriman did last season.

    "I'm really old school with that," Colbert said. "I really believe that the longer the kids have to acclimatize themselves to the NFL, the better they're going to be. When they step up and play well, I think that's the exception. I don't think teams are saying, 'Well, (Tatupu) did it. Maybe we can …' "

    Sean Jensen can be reached at [email protected]

    Linebackers for the taking

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  2. #2
    singersp's Avatar
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    Re: Linebackers for the taking: Vikings have plenty to pick

    Posted on Tue, Feb. 28, 2006
    St. Paul Pioneer Press


    [size=18px]BEST LINEBACKERS[/size]

    A look at some of the rookie linebackers who could
    appeal to the Vikings:


    Player Ht., Wt., College, Projected round*

    Ernie Sims 5-11, 220 Florida State 1st
    Comment:Tough and physical, he could play any of the linebacker positions.

    DeMeco Ryan 6-1, 236 Alabama 1st
    Comment:The top player on Alabama's elite defense plays fast and hits hard.

    Chad Greenway 6-2, 243 Iowa 1st
    Comment:Ran 4.45 seconds in the 40-yard dash, blazing speed for a linebacker.

    Thomas Howard 6-2, 231 Texas-El Paso 2nd
    Comment:Regarded for his athleticism and versatility, he can do it all.

    John Alston 6-0, 223 Stanford 2nd-3rd
    Comment:In past two seasons, he had 16.5 sacks and 24 tackles for loss.

    Manny Lawson 6-5, 220 N.C. State 3rd-5th Commentefensive end runs remarkably well.

    * according to Pro Football Weekly

    BEST LINEBACKERS

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  3. #3
    NordicNed is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: Linebackers for the taking: Vikings have plenty to pick from

    Man,

    I wish I could remember the name of the guy, but he was at the combine yesterday and looked like a player...Ran a 4.5 40........

    His college stats where of the charts..

    138 tackles......34 sacs.............and get this, that was just for last season alone.......34 sacs?....yup you read it right..

    He's out of a Div. 1 AA college....

    These are the gems you look for......


    I LOVE THE SMELL OF VICTORY IN THE MORNING AIR.

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    COJOMAY is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: Linebackers for the taking: Vikings have plenty to pick from

    Once again, it looks like the breaks are falling the Vikes way!
    Kentucky Vikes Fan

    When you require nothing, you get nothing; when you expect nothing, you will find nothing; when you embrace nothing, all you will have is nothing.

  5. #5
    Del Rio Guest

    Re: Linebackers for the taking: Vikings have plenty to pick

    I don't know how much sacks will play into the decision. They want a coverage backer from the sounds of it.

    If they try to draft that I can only guess they will be targeting speed. I imagine it will be a smaller guy who may even pass as a saftey.

  6. #6
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    Re: Linebackers for the taking: Vikings have plenty to pick from

    Man Greenway is fast! I think either him or Sims would be the best choice for us if we draft a linebacker.
    Zeus wrote:
    When are you going to realize that picking out the 20 bad throws this year and ignoring the 300 good ones does not make your point?

    =Z=

  7. #7
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    Re: Linebackers for the taking: Vikings have plenty to pick from

    Lawson ran a 40 in about 4.3x something, i think.. but he's a converted DE, so he would rather fit in a 3-4 defense, cause of the good time, he could go in the first round..


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  8. #8
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    Re: Linebackers for the taking: Vikings have plenty to pick

    From what I understand..... Greenway should be gone before the draft gets to us and I have heard some great things about Demeco Ryans. Apparently he is really smart and graduated from college early and went down to help Katrina efforts. Great character and great player, good combo if you ask me. All that being said.... it all depends on who we get in FA. If we get a couple linebackers.... then we need to go RB in the first round..... if we pick up edge or SA, then we can go buck wild on LB's in the first 2 rounds.

    Thanks Lotza!

  9. #9
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    Re: Linebackers for the taking: Vikings have plenty to pick from

    I like Ernie Sims out of Fla St, but DeMeco Ryan is a beast. Ryan is bigger, and hits just as hard if not harder than Sims. I think Ryan is our best bet if we pick a LB in the 1 rd...

  10. #10
    cogitans is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: Linebackers for the taking: Vikings have plenty to pick

    "VikesfaninWis" wrote:
    I like Ernie Sims out of Fla St, but DeMeco Ryan is a beast. Ryan is bigger, and hits just as hard if not harder than Sims. I think Ryan is our best bet if we pick a LB in the 1 rd...
    That would be my pick as well. If we get a stud RB in FA I would take a guy like Ryans in the 1. round.

    Then maybe take a future running back in the second, fx. Addai.

    I'm aware that people say that it's a deep LB group, but there are a lot of talented RBs in there as well.

    Thanks to PPE for the sig.

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