With the first of their three picks in the seventh round of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Vikings select Michael Mauti.
With football bloodlines and phenomenal awareness, Mauti has the potential to develop into a solid starter at the next level. Assuming he can continue to build on the physical tools that he showed at Penn State, the Vikings could have landed a steal at No. 213.
Displaying tremendous instincts reminiscent of former Penn State greats, Mauti has the type of awareness that NFL teams look for in their linebackers. Throughout his time with the Nittany Lions, he flew around the field making plays. He has the athleticism to roam from sideline to sideline, evidenced by his 2012 production (96 tackles, 2.5 sacks, three interceptions, three forced fumbles). Given the proper time and coaching, Mauti could develop the skills necessary to earn the Vikings’ starting middle linebacker gig.
The biggest problem with Mauti is his durability. Throughout his college career, Mauti suffered numerous injuries, including torn ACLs in both knees. He missed the final game of the 2012 campaign due to a knee injury, which was a big contributor to his fall down to the seventh round. If it wasn’t for the spotty health history, Mauti would have been a third- or fourth-round pick.
Mauti heads to Minnesota with former Penn State teammate Gerald Hodges, who the Vikings selected in the fourth round. Both will provide plenty of leadership after carrying the Nittany Lions through the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
As long as Mauti can stay healthy and on the field for the Vikings, the young linebacker could turn out to be a pleasant surprise in Minnesota as they look to add some extra talent and depth at the position.