After taking the weekend off, it's time to start wrapping up our series on the Vikings' draft class of 2012. With their first of two seventh-round selections, the 210th selection overall, the Vikings drafted linebacker Audie Cole out of North Carolina State University.
After red-shirting for the Wolfpack in 2007, Cole saw action mostly on special teams in 2008, only recording three tackles from the linebacker position. He really started to make a name for himself as a redshirt sophomore in 2009 as the team's strong-side outside linebacker. He was the recipient of the team's Al Michaels Award, an award given to the player who most puts the team ahead of themselves. He had 73 tackles that season, and also added 3.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss.
Cole continued to improve in 2010, increasing his tackle total to 86. He also racked up five sacks and ten tackles for loss, as well as breaking up three passes during the year. Those figures were good enough to help him garner All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors that season, and put him on the watch list for the Butkus Award going into his senior season.
Cole moved to the middle linebacker spot for his senior season, and continued to flourish, recording a career-high 108 tackles, including a whopping 13.5 tackles for loss (resulting in 60 yards in losses) and 5.5 sacks. For some reason, he was only "Honorable Mention" on the all-ACC team this past season, but was a semi-finalist for the Butkus Award.
He's a pretty damn good athlete, from all accounts. Check out the interception at about the 4:45 mark of this video.
It's not totally certain where Cole fits into the grand scheme of things with the Vikings' linebackers. He played both outside and in the middle in college, but he would appear to be more suited for the middle linebacker spot at the NFL level. He had a fourth or fifth-round grade from most of the draft gurus out there, so getting him in the draft's final round appears to be a nice get for the Vikings. It will be interesting to see how he develops and what role he plays for the team going forward.