The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports Columns

April 24, 2013

Rueda: Good chance Purple end up with an inside LB

Editor’s note: This is the third  of three columns leading up to tonight’s first round of the NFL Draft. Chad Courrier offered his opinion on Friday and Shane Frederick weighed in on Tuesday.

Draft day is finally here and that means Mel Kiper has a little more than 72 hours before he can slink off into obscurity again for another nine months. (Oops, I forgot the endless post-draft analysis. I guess Mel will be sticking around for awhile).

Anyway, it’s time to predict what the Vikings will do later tonight when their number finally comes up. They have picks 23 and 25 in the first round.

Co-hort Chad Courrier has predicted a wide receiver with at least one of those selections. Fellow crony Shane Frederick says it will be a defensive lineman.

I like Shane’s pick better than Chad’s for a couple of reasons, not the least of which it’s safer. This year’s draft is heavy on lineman on both sides of the line, which means a quality player at that position should be available in Round 1.

While they are both pretty good predictions, I’m leaning toward an inside linebacker as the team’s first choice. If you take a look at the team’s depth chart right now, something named Tyron McKenzie is listed first at middle linebacker. It’s a sure bet the Vikes want to upgrade at that spot.

There are some good LB’s to be had coming out of college this year. Unfortunately, the top three — Dion Jordan of Oregon, Barkevious Mingo of LSU and Jarvis Jones of Georgia — are outside linebackers.

The consensus for inside linebackers seems to be that Georgia’s Alex Ogletree and Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o are the two best. And there’s a decent chance one or both of them will be there when Minnesota picks.

Ogletree stands 6-feet-21⁄2 and weighs 242 pounds. He ran a 4.69 at the scouting combine.

Talent wise, Kiper and his peers believe Ogletree should be a Top-10 pick. There are, however, character concerns, which means he may drop to Minnesota. He missed the first four games of last season after failing a drug test and then was arrested and charged with DUI in February.

Te’o, despite his invisible girlfriend, does not have the character flaws of Ogletree. But he didn’t shine at the combine (4.82) and failed to impress in the BCS championship game when Alabama took it to him.

Rest assured Vikings GM Rick Spielman has been doing a lot of checking on both players and will rank them accordingly. If they don’t take one with the 23rd pick, don’t be surprised if they come back and nab one at 25.

One other player to consider is Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes. That’s certainly another team need but there’s only a small chance Rhodes will still be available when Minnesota picks.

Linebacker is more likely, even if it means Vikings fans have to keep their fingers crossed.

Jim Rueda is the Free Press sports editor. To contact him, call 344-6381 or e-mail him at jrueda@mankatofreepress.comjrueda@mankatofreepress.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports Columns
  • Courrier: There are no winners in MSU football saga Where to start? In 28 years in the business, there has never been a more odd, twisted, rollercoaster story than the Todd Hoffner saga. And that was before he came back to the Minnesota State campus this week, when strange became tragic and the chance

    April 17, 2014

  • Thoma column: Twins are scoring lot of runs; can this continue? The Minnesota Twins entered Sunday's play with the American League's second-highest number of runs scored. And, they haven't had the advantage of hitting off their own pitching staff. OK, it's dreadfully early in the season, far too early to draw co

    April 14, 2014

  • Courrier: Masters is first sign that winter has been conquered Don't know if anybody noticed but it's been a tough winter, with brutal cold and piles of snow that are now just disappearing. If not for an exciting season of local basketball and hockey, it would have an unbearable four months. Minnesota State had

    April 10, 2014

  • Thoma column: We all know the Ryan Braun saga: Winner of the National League MVP award, flunked a drug test, convinced the arbitrator to toss his suspension on the basis that his sample was mishandled, was snagged anyway in the Biogenesis investigation, suspended

    April 7, 2014

  • Focus will be on Mavericks' QBs this spring The Minnesota State football team began its spring practice period this week, 14 workouts in 27 days, trying to see who has been working hard to maintain a starting position and which backups might be ready to get more playing time in the fall. The b

    April 4, 2014

  • Thoma column: For the remade Twins, 2014 looks like more losing The start of the baseball season is supposed to be about fresh beginnings, wide open promises and the hope that springs eternal in the human breast. I'm here to quash that kind of optimism among the followers of the Minnesota Twins. (I strive to be a

    April 1, 2014

  • Shot clock isn't answer for high-school basketball A few weeks back, the state's basketball fans were all riled up that during a state-tournament game, the Hopkins boys spent much of the four overtimes holding the basketball, preferring not to shoot until the final seconds of each extra period in the

    March 28, 2014

  • Thoma column: Projected lineup is Mauer, Arcia and a bunch of outs The Minnesota Twins begin play in earnest in less than a week -- weather permitting -- and wow, do they have lineup issues. They scored 614 runs last season, 13th in the 15-team American League and almost 100 under the league average (702). Justin Mo

    March 26, 2014

  • Thoma column: Perkins extension may not be such a relief over time In the abstract, long-term contracts for relief pitchers are bad bets for teams. Nobody seems to be too concerned about that rule of thumb when it comes to Glen Perkins' new deal with the Twins. The contract, worth more than $21 million in guaranteed

    March 17, 2014

  • Courrier: No. 1 seed has brought no guarantees for MSU Since the Minnesota State men's basketball team started this nearly annual tradition of playing in the NCAA II tournament, the home team has almost been unbeatable in the regional. The Mavericks have played in nine of the last 10 national tournaments

    March 14, 2014

Free Press news updates
Seasonal Content
Featured Ads
AP Video
Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual Raw: Bulgarian Monastery Dyes 5000 Easter Eggs Diplomats Reach Deal to Ease Tensions in Ukraine U.S. Sending Nonlethal Aid to Ukraine Military Holder: Americans Stand With KC Mourners Obama Greets Wounded Warriors Malaysia Plane: Ocean Floor Images 'Very Clear' Sparks Fly With Derulo and Jordin on New Album Franco Leads Star-studded Broadway Cast Raw: Two Lucky Kids Get Ride in Popemobile Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing
Poll