Mark Craig of the Star Tribune continued the publication's eight-part series looking at the level of need for each position on the Vikings.
Craig **delved into the linebackers** in the most recent glance at a positional unit.
Craig notes that Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks are slated to be starters for a while, and that veteran Chad Greenway is still effective heading into his 11th season. The Vikings also signed linebackers Emmanuel Lamur and Travis Lewis as free agents in the offseason.
Barr is set on the strong side and has All-Pro potential written all over him if he can stay healthy. Kendricks looked tremendously instinctive, and is a fast player who can tackle. The two of them are three-down players, which means they'll be the only linebackers on the field when the Vikings go from their base defense to the nickel packages they use roughly 50 percent of the time.
Greenway probably will start on the weak side in the base defense. But it won't be handed to him just because it's his 11th and final season at age 33. The Vikings gave Lamur a two-year deal with $2 million guaranteed. He's 26, knows Zimmer's defense and will be hungry for action.
Because of the depth the Vikings have, Craig classified Minnesota's level of need at the linebacker position as "low."
We're not buying the mock drafts that have the Vikings taking a linebacker in the first round. It's not out of the question, especially if a Myles Jack were to free fall through the round. But the Vikings have a pair of quality 24-year-olds in Barr and Kendricks that are three-down players for years to come.
Tomasson's mock has Vikings taking wide receiver
Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press released his mock draft on Wednesday.
Tomasson noted that Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman has been known to make a deal or two on draft day.
*Few teams make as many trades during the NFL draft as the Vikings, whose general manager always aims to make 10 picks in the seven-round draft. Because Spielman now has just eight picks, expect him to be busy. *
*Minnesota annually moves up and down the board during draft week, and Spielman has dealt for at least one extra first-round choice in three of the past four years. Right now, the Vikings have the 23rd overall pick, and while they want a wide receiver, there's enough depth at the position for them to consider grabbing one later in the first or in the second round. *
But Tomasson's mock draft has the Vikings staying at pick No. 23 and selecting TCU wide receiver Josh Doctson. Tomasson wrote:
*Spending first-round picks on receivers recently has sparked uneven results for the Vikings … But Doctson is a big guy (6-2) with solid speed. *
Numbers and notes
With the 2016 NFL Draft just two days away, Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune took a peak at some interesting facts about Minnesota's recent drafts.
Among the highlights Vensel found includes trends for Vikings since Spielman was hired in 2006. The 2007 was Spielman's first in Minnesota, and he became GM before the 2012 installment.:
— The Vikings have drafted players from 50 different schools [since 2007]. We know Spielman loves his Golden Domers, selecting four players from Notre Dame since 2007, including safety Harrison Smith and tight end Kyle Rudolph. But UCLA appears to be his new favorite football factory. The Vikings have selected four Bruins since Spielman [became GM] in 2012, including linebacker Eric Kendricks last year. The Vikings have also drafted four players from USC, Oklahoma and Florida State since 2007.
— In the past four years, Spielman has made 13 total trades during the draft, including three of them last year. He has made at least two trades each year and he twice made four deals during a draft (2012 and 2014).
— Their longest-tenured draft pick is linebacker Chad Greenway, who was their first-round pick in 2006. He is heading into his 11th season with the Vikings. He is one of eight active Vikings players whom the team drafted before 2012. In all, the Vikings have 35 homegrown picks on the roster.
The Vikings are scheduled to have eight picks for this year's draft, which begins Thursday in Chicago.* *