Minnesota Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman has been dealing with the Percy Harvin situation that continues to be a hot topic, but there is also a major concern on the defensive side of the ball that has Spielman worried; the durability of middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley.
The Vikings did not draft or sign any new middle linebackers this offseason, and Jasper Brinkley was pretty much engraved as the starter thereafter due to a lack of other options. He said he is completely recovered from a hip injury that costed him the entire 2011 season, but the two-down run stopper is also suffering from a recent groin injury that might be related to the severe injury. In fact, the groin injury caused him to miss all of minicamp as well, which is not a good sign.
Tom Pelissero tweeted that Spielman had this to say about Brinkley, “There’s some concern there, definitely. … The durability is a question right now.”
The first year starter at MLB looks to replace long-time Minnesota Viking E.J. Henderson who was not retained and is still a free agent. Jasper Brinkley, a fifth-rounder out of South Carolina in 2009, has recorded just 48 combined tackles in his career in two seasons.
Spielman’s concerns are certainly valid, and Brinkley is a major concern for the Vikes at this point because of his durability, inexperience, and lack of a track record. He is the best option they have at this point and the team seemed confident in him after not signing anyone or drafting an MLB, but they could still go the free agent route and scoop up a veteran.
Overall, playing Jasper Brinkley is risky, even though he is a talented two-down linebacker because of his talented play against the run. The problem is that he is a tremendous liability in pass coverage and is too injury prone to count on. The Vikings should start him because of his ability to play against the run, but they do need to sign a veteran backup with Marvin Mitchell as their top backup at the position. Brinkley is an underwhelming player and doesn’t look like a starter right now, but he does have the upside to fit that role if he can stay healthy and manage not to get beat too badly in pass coverage.
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For more on Jasper Brinkley and the Minnesota Vikings, check out The Viking Age.