Vikings predraft roster analysis, Day 2: Linebackers
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E.J. Henderson's recovery from a fractured left femur leaves a major question mark for a unit that already had some limitations in coverage. There was a significant drop-off in the middle from Henderson to Brinkley, a fifth-round draft pick with downhill, inside-run traits who too often was overmatched as a rookie. Henderson said last month his recovery is ahead of schedule and he will play again. But regardless of what the Vikings believe they'll get from him -- perhaps, for instance, they think Henderson can be a two-down player from the get-go -- they need reinforcements here. Greenway and Leber are fine starters, but both are entering a contract year and depth is shaky. Erin Henderson flashed as a rookie but played in only two games last season because of injuries and a suspension. Farwell's sole value is on special teams. Brinkley and Leman are young but look like they're just guys.
ONE SCOUT'S TAKE
"I don't think the linebackers get enough credit. ... They benefit greatly from the front, but they're also an active group who can drop and play in space as well -- three-down type players who will make plays when put in position."
-- AFC personnel director
In addition to E.J. Henderson's latest injury, he's due $4.1 million in base salary alone this season and will be 30 in August. Leber ($3.95 million salary, age 31) isn't getting younger either. There are short- and long-term issues with this group, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Vikings use at least one draft pick here.
MEL KIPER'S TOP FIVE
Rolando McClain, Alabama (6-4, 258)
Donald Butler, Washington (6-1, 235)
Pat Angerer, Iowa (6-1, 235)
Darryl Sharpton, Miami (6-1, 235)
Brandon Spikes, Florida (6-3, 258)
Sergio Kindle, Texas (6-4, 255)
Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri (6-2, 245)
Jerry Hughes, TCU (6-3, 257)
Eric Norwood, TCU (6-3, 234)
Sean Lee, Penn State (6-2, 236)