The Minnesota Vikings enter training camp looking to improve at linebacker. They selected Anthony Barr in the first round in hopes of having more of a pass rush.
The Minnesota Vikings will see turnover in their linebacking corps with Erin Henderson and Marvin Mitchell departing. Henderson was arrested on two occasions for DUI and drug-related incidents. This led the Vikings to release him, despite him being the team’s leading tackler with 112.
Henderson also added four sacks and two interceptions, so his presence will be missed despite his character concerns.
Audie Cole gained experience at middle linebacker with five starts, and he will compete with 2013 seventh-round pick Michael Mauti for the job. Mauti is injury-prone, so he will look to prove his worth while staying healthy to stick around.
Jasper Brinkley returned to the Vikings after a brief stay with the Arizona Cardinals. While he does not have good coverage skills, his run support will be useful for the Vikings.
Chad Greenway will return at outside linebacker, and he is looking to put a disappointing 2013 season behind him. Although he finished with 131 tackles, Greenway missed 21. However, he still displayed solid pass-rushing skills by posting three sacks.
Anthony Barr is expected to step in right away across from Greenway after being one of the most feared pass rushers in the nation at UCLA. His last two collegiate seasons consisted of 23.5 sacks and 41.5 tackles for loss.
The backup linebackers will probably be taken by Gerald Hodges and Larry Dean. Dean offers special teams experience, and Hodges offers upside as he enters his second year looking to make the jump along with Mauti.
If Greenway can bounce back and Barr can live up to expectations, the Vikings defense will make significant strides. They will likely carry five or six linebackers total on the roster.