The Minnesota Vikings expect newly acquired linebacker Gerald Hodges to have an impact right away, despite being a fourth-round pick in this year’s NFL Draft.
In a Vikings.com podcast on Tuesday, team director of college scouting Scott Studwell says Hodges has the ability to play all three linebacker positions but says the Penn St. linebacker is projected to be a Will or Sam for the Vikings.
Erin Henderson and Chad Greenway are currently penciled in as the starting weakside and strongside linebackers. General manager Rick Spielman said last week that Henderson could be moved to middle linebacker depending on what they do in free agency and in the draft.
Based on what the team has been saying, Hodges has a legitimate chance to start at Will this season for Minnesota, with Henderson likely shifting in if they don’t sign a veteran middle linebacker like Brian Urlacher. Audie Cole might be the answer at for the Mike position, but it appears the team thinks more highly on Hodges than Cole, a seventh-round pick last year.
Studwell also spoke very highly on Michael Mauti, who might be the team’s starting middle linebacker in the future if he can stay healthy. Mauti sustained three torn ACLs during his college career, but Spielman said the training staff is “100 percent” confident about Mauti’s health and future.
Henderson signed a two-year deal this offseason, so it is quite possible that Minnesota may have a starting linebacker group that consists of Hodges, Mauti and Chad Greenway in a couple years.