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Updated: April 4th, 2013 10:07pm
Vikings got another look at linebackers Alec Ogletree, Manti Te'o

Vikings got another look at linebackers Alec Ogletree, Manti Te'o

by Tom Pelissero
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Leslie Frazier strongly suggested last month he expects the Minnesota Vikings to find their new middle linebacker in the NFL Draft.

If they want to do it with one of their two late first-round picks, the two logical choices both were inside Winter Park this week.

Alec Ogletree and Manti Te'o attended the Vikings' annual "Top 30" event on Tuesday and Wednesday at Winter Park.

Ogletree, 21, was a two-year starter at Georgia who moved from safety after his freshman year. He was productive as a junior in 2012, recording 111 tackles and six passes defended.

Te'o, 22, was the Heisman runner-up as a senior at Notre Dame, finishing with 113 tackles -- his third consecutive season in triple-digits -- and seven interceptions.

They're widely projected as the only two first-round prospects among this class' middle linebackers, though scouts continue to examine their issues both on and off the field.

"Te'o's more of a between-the-tackles guy, lacks the range," one NFL personnel man said on Thursday. "Ogletree's the guy that has the range but isn't very physical at the point."

Ogletree also has struggled with durability (missed six games in 2011 with a broken foot) and legal troubles (an arrest for theft in 2010 and another for DUI in February).

Te'o became the subject of national scrutiny after it was revealed the widely reported death of his girlfriend, who never actually existed, was part of a cruel hoax.

So, it's no surprise the Vikings wanted more time with both players even though they interviewed Te'o at the NFL scouting combine in February and likely spoke with Ogletree there, too.

The Vikings are looking for their third middle linebacker in as many years. They let veteran E.J. Henderson go in 2011 and got inconsistent play last season from Jasper Brinkley, who wasn't deemed a priority in free agency and signed a two-year, $3.5 million contract with Arizona.

"It's definitely a position we need to address," Frazier said last month at the NFL meetings. "We have a void there and we've got to find the right guy. It's a big part of our defense. We have to get better at the middle linebacker position."

The only plausible in-house candidate is Audie Cole, a seventh-round draft pick out of North Carolina State last year who played sparingly on special teams as a rookie.

It is believed at least one other inside linebacker, Florida State's Vince Williams, was at the "Top 30" event, during which the Vikings use most of their allotted visits to the team's facility each year.

The only other linebacker projected by some as a possible late first-round pick is LSU's Kevin Minter. It's unknown if he was there.

The Vikings don't release their visits, but other players known to have attended include California receiver Keenan Allen, Clemson receiver DeAndre Hopkins, dismissed LSU safety Tyrann Mathieu and Utah State cornerback Will Davis.

Attendance at the "Top 30" or lack thereof doesn't necessarily say anything about the Vikings' level of interest. For instance, Matt Kalil was at the event last year. Fellow first-round pick Harrison Smith wasn't and had limited contact with Vikings officials after the Senior Bowl in January.

The Vikings own 11 picks in the draft, which begins on April 25. That includes two (Nos. 23 and 25 overall) in the first round.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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