EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — After sitting out the second day of the NFL draft thanks to a big trade, the Minnesota Vikings plunged into the final day in search of a linebacker to help round out an incomplete group.
No better place to go than Linebacker U.
The Vikings selected Penn State linebacker Gerald Hodges with the 120th overall selection in the fourth round on Saturday, bringing a versatile player to a group that currently lacks a starter in the middle after Jasper Brinkley left for Arizona.
“Man there’s no better feeling in the world,” Hodges said in a conference call. “I’m talking weight-off-my-shoulders type of feeling. … I just started crying, man. I couldn’t believe it. It’s just a blessing.”
Listed at 6-foot-1 and 243 pounds, Hodges had 5½ sacks in his college career for the Nittany Lions. He started his college career as a safety before being moved to linebacker. He played primarily on the outside, but said he would feel comfortable playing inside as well. He played middle linebacker at the East-West Shrine game.
“They really liked me and they told me, ‘You’ve got a chance to really come in here and make an impact for us,'” Hodges said. “I told them, ‘Whatever you guys need me to do, whatever you guys want me to do, I’m ready to do it.’ I’m ready to be a Viking. I’m ready to get started.”
He had two interceptions as a senior and scouts say he excels in pass coverage, which could help him make immediate contributions for the Vikings in the pass-happy NFC North.
It remains to be seen where Hodges will get the bulk of his playing time. If the Vikings choose to keep him outside, they could move veteran Erin Henderson to the middle to fill out a group that includes Pro Bowler Chad Greenway.
They also have picks in the fifth and sixth rounds and two more in the seventh, giving them plenty of more chances to look at another linebacker as well. The Vikings also have needs at receiver and cornerback that could be addressed as the draft progresses.
The Vikings did not have a selection during the second and third rounds on Friday night after trading those picks, plus their first fourth-rounder and a seventh-rounder, to New England on Thursday night to move up and take Tennessee receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. The Vikings also grabbed Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes in the first round, making them the first team since the Rams in 2001 to have three first-round picks.
They resisted any temptations to trade back into the second day of the draft, then sat tight through the first 22 picks of Day 3 before grabbing Hodges.
Vikings Draft UCLA P Jeff Locke In 5th Round
The Minnesota Vikings have selected UCLA punter Jeff Locke with the 155th overall selection in the fifth round.
That could spell the end of veteran Chris Kluwe’s time in Minnesota. Locke was the first punter taken in the draft.
Kluwe has gained some notoriety for being outspoken on several political issues, and special teams coordinator Mike Priefer appeared to tire of the headlines Kluwe was making as the season wore on.
The Vikings started the day on Saturday by taking Penn State linebacker Gerald Hodges in the fourth round. They also have a choice in the sixth round and two more in the seventh.
The draft picks on Saturday join first-rounders Sharrif Floyd of Florida, Xavier Rhodes of Florida State and Cordarrelle Patterson of Tennessee in the Vikings draft class.
Vikings Draft UCLA G Jeff Baca In 6th Round
The Minnesota Vikings have taken UCLA guard Jeff Baca with the 196th overall selection in the sixth round.
They picked up another seventh-round pick from Tampa Bay to move back from No. 189, then grabbed Baca, a 6-foot-3, 302-pound guard to add some depth on the offensive line. The Vikings needed a guard after losing Geoff Schwartz to the Chiefs.
The Vikings started the day by taking Penn State linebacker Gerald Hodges in the fourth round and then took UCLA punter Jeff Locke in the fifth. They did not have a selection in the second or third round on Friday night because of a trade in the first round that landed them Tennessee receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.
Vikings Take Penn State LB Mauti In 7th Round
The Minnesota Vikings have taken Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti with the 213th overall selection in the seventh round.
Mauti suffered a torn ACL injury three times in his career at Penn State. The Vikings had three seventh-round draft picks when the round began, giving them enough assets to take a chance on an injury plagued, but very talented player.
Mauti will join a linebacking corps that is still looking for a starter in the middle.
After sitting out the second and third rounds on Friday, the Vikings started the final day of the draft on Saturday by taking Penn State linebacker Gerald Hodges in the fourth round. They took UCLA punter Jeff Locke in the fifth round and UCLA guard Jeff Baca in the sixth.
Vikings Take UNC G Travis Bond In 7th Round
The Minnesota Vikings have taken North Carolina guard Travis Bond with the 214th overall draft in the seventh round.
Bond is big for a guard, listed at 6-foot-6 and 329 pounds. He weighed 372 pounds at the end of his junior year before slimming down for his final season with the Tar Heels.
After sitting out the second and third rounds on Friday, the Vikings started the final day of the draft on Saturday by taking Penn State linebacker Gerald Hodges in the fourth round. They took UCLA punter Jeff Locke in the fifth round, UCLA guard Jeff Baca in the sixth round and Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti earlier in the seventh.
Vikings Draft DT Everett Dawkins In 7th Round
The Minnesota Vikings have taken Florida State defensive tackle Everett Dawkins with the 229th overall selection in the seventh round.
Dawkins is a teammate of Vikings first-round draft pick Xavier Rhodes.
The Vikings originally traded this pick to New England on Thursday night as part of the package that allowed them to move up and take Tennessee receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. They wound up getting the pick back Saturday by agreeing to move down a few spots in the sixth round with Tampa Bay, who acquired it from the Patriots earlier in the draft.
Dawkins is the third seventh-rounder for the Vikings, who also chose Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti and North Carolina guard Travis Bond earlier in the round.
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