The Vikings Defensive Line and their defense as a whole could really benefit from getting an outside linebacker that could come in and show them some real play making skills. I think Clay Matthews has reminded us the importance of having an outstanding play maker at the linebacker position and what it can do for your team. Since I do not believe the Vikings will take a linebacker in the 1st round we can basically cut out Von Miller, Robert Quinn, Aldon Smith, and Akeem Ayers. All of the NFL mock drafts I have taken a look at have these guys going in the 1st round so I will be starting with:
Justin Houston: I did see a few mock drafts that had him enter the first round ,but since it was only a few I will include him on the list. This outside linebacker out of Georgia stands at a whopping size of 6'3" and 254 pounds. He had 56 tackles last year and 10 sacks. The year before he had seven sacks so he is definitely more known for his pass rushing skills. He had 18.5 tackles for a loss and 44 QB hurries. He is known for his speed off the edge.
Jabaal Sheard: This draftee out of Pittsburgh could either be a DE or an outside linebacker. He's listed at 6'3" and 260 pounds. Sheard had 9 sacks last year and 14.5 tackles for a loss. Once again another good pass rusher; I also found it very interesting that he saved an elderly woman from a burning building.
Bruce Carter: A 6'3" and 235 pound linebacker out of North Carolina. His sophmore year he posted 68 tackles, 11 of them for a loss and recorded 5 sacks. His junior year his numbers dropped off a little bit with 65 tackles, 7.5 for a loss and only 2 sacks. He was set for a good season last year ,but a knee injury cut it short and he had to have reconstructive acl surgery. He is still considered to be one the most explosive linebackers in the draft.
Ross Homan: Homan is listed at 6'0" and 229 pounds. Had a great 108 tackles performance in 2009 and 75 in 2010 for the Buckeyes. He also had 5 interceptions so definitely more of a coverage linebacker who doesn't miss many tackles. He is a great leader and often plays through injuries ,but if you're looking for a future blitzer he seems to be only fair at getting past the O-Line.
Mason Foster: This linebacker out of Washington produced an amazing 162 tackles and seven sacks in his senior year. He is known for his great instincts and tackling ability. As for his blitzing ability he times the snaps well and often tries to rip the ball out instead of going for the sack.
Jeremy Beal: This Sooner produced 72 tackles and 9 sacks his senior year after recording 11 sacks his junior year. He is a little big for an outside linebacker at 6'2" and 268 pounds. He is very violent when rushing the QB to make up for less speed. Does not give until after the play is done. Extreme work ethic ,but not very vocal; he chooses to lead by example.
Brooks Reed: This linebacker comes out of Arizona, he is listed at 6'3" and 262 pounds. He recorded 47 tackles as a senior along with 7 sacks. He is also another violent linebacker that lacks speed. He is more known for bull rushing and hard hitting. Always gives full effort and study's the game relentlessly.
Jonas Mouton: A Michigan man Mouton's stats are not to flashy when it comes to sacks ,but he did record 111 tackles this season. He is listed at 6'2" and 240 pounds. He switched from safety to linebacker in 2006 so very versatile. My guess though is he would be more of a special teams player.
Mark Herzlich: Most of us know the amazing story of this Boston College standout. His fight and win against cancer was extraordinary. He is listed at 6'4" and 238 pounds. He recorded 110 tackles in 2008 and had 11 interceptions in his career so very much a coverage linebacker. He also had 7 forced fumbles. Shows great instincts and is considered one of the best tacklers in the nation. He relies on speed to beat the tackle when it comes to blitzing.
Dontay Moch: This DE/LB prospect comes from Nevada and I have seen him go to the Vikings in a couple of mock drafts in round 5 I believe. He is listed at 6'1" and 245 pounds. He recorded 64 tackles his senior year and had 9 sacks. He also had 11 sacks in 2008. He holds all of Nevada's pass rush records and is a very hard hitter. His speed is amazing for his position ,but he has a hard time changing directions. Former track star.
Kenny Rowe: The first Oregon prospect we are going to look at ,but not the last. He is listed at 6'3" 238 pounds. Kenny recorded 11 sacks in 09' and 7 in 2010. He also had a team high of 15 tackles for a loss. He played DE in college ,but will probably need to transition to OLB. Known for his pass rushing skills starting in high-school and continuing into college ,but needs to transition them to OLB.
Casey Matthews: Now he is more projected to be an Inside Linebacker ,but I wouldn't be a Vikings fan if I didn't include him on this list. I think we all would love to see a Matthews brother battle for years to come. Casey vs. Clay, it would really be a fun match up. He is listed at 6'2" and 235 pounds. He recorded over 70 tackles in each of his last two seasons. He is a great tackler who rarely misses and is a great emotional leader just like his brother. He however does have a hard time changing directions and struggles in coverage.
So there you have it Vikings fans. There are 12 potential future LB's or DE's that could be with us next season. If you had to draft one, who you would you choose and why?