Mark Craig: Reasons the Vikings are being patient at LB

  • Updated: March 18, 2014 - 9:30 PM

Beyond Chad Greenway, the Vikings have no proven starting-caliber players to fill the other two linebacker spots in a 4-3 scheme. But there are several factors that have kept the Vikings from scratching that itch the way they’ve gone out and addressed needs at quarterback, defensive end, nose tackle, cornerback, left guard and depth at receiver.

1. The free-agent market at linebacker is weak and/or aging.

2. The Vikings have seven linebackers under contract. Three of them — Audie Cole, Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges — are young players the Vikings are high on. A fourth one — Jasper Brinkley — was re-signed before the start of free agency because the new coaching staff thinks he might be good enough to compete for a starting job.

3. The Vikings are looking for a difference-maker — a young guy with speed, instincts and a physical presence. You find those relatively high in the draft, not on the street.

4. The Vikings are changing their defensive scheme under new coach Mike Zimmer. The staff is still figuring out how the different skill levels will match the new roles.

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