The Minnesota Vikings already had a need at linebacker, and Jasper Brinkley signing a two-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals makes an already thin group even more in need of a talent upgrade. Brian Urlacher has been rumored as a potential target to take over as Minnesota’s new starting middle linebacker, but Tom Pelissero of 1500-ESPN Twin Cities has reported that head coach Leslie Frazier is hinting that Brinkley’s successor could be a rookie.
Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o could be in play for the Vikings, and the fact they now have two first-round picks (23rd and 25th overall) makes the much-maligned Heisman Trophy finalist a possibility with one of those picks. Another inside linebacker that is widely projected to be a first-round pick is Georgia’s Alec Ogletree, and he could also be on Minnesota’s radar.
Let’s see how Ogletree measures up, then I’ll look at his strengths and weaknesses and see how he may be a fit for the Vikings.
Weight: 242 lbs.
– Is an outstanding athlete-has a long frame and long arms
– Shows excellent closing speed and is fast in pursuit
– Can run the deep-middle in zone coverage, and can mirror in man coverage
– Arrives at the ball with power and violence
– Has experience playing special teams, and played well in that area of the game
– Needs to get stronger at the point of attack-sometimes struggles to disengage from blockers
– Exhibits only average instincts-is a bit of a “see-and-go” reactor
– Sometimes leaves production on the field-lacks assertiveness
– Has character concerns, even before his DUI arrest just prior to the NFL Combine
There’s no denying Ogletree’s talent and production, as he had 111 total tackles (11.5 tackles for loss) despite missing four games last season. He is fairly inexplicably listed as an outside linebacker in pre-draft rankings, but he played middle linebacker in college and his skills makes him a very good fit for what the Vikings need.
Ogletree played well against high-level competition and was often the best player on a defense laden with NFL-caliber talent, but his character concerns may turn the Vikings off after what they just went through with wide receiver Percy Harvin. Based on talent alone, without the off-field concerns, Ogletree could easily be a top-10 overall pick.
Ogletree would bring upside potential the Vikings’ linebacking corp sorely needs, and he should step in as a starter for whatever team drafts him.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.