Sergio Kindle, Texas
Kindle was recruited to Texas to play linebacker, finished his career as a defensive end and likely will return to linebacker in a 3-4 scheme as an NFL rookie.
Not surprisingly, Kindle's versatility has drawn comparisons to former Texas teammate Brian Orakpo, a hybrid defensive end/linebacker who was the 13th overall pick by Washington in the 2009 draft.
"I feel (Orakpo is) a better defensive end, and I'm more of a linebacker," Kindle said. "I feel like he can give me more pointers on playing defensive end, and I can give him some on playing linebacker. We kind of balance. He's got a year under the league under his belt so he surpasses what I know by far."
The 6-4, 250-pound Kindle has tremendous physical ability and is explosive off the edge. He probably would need to add some weight to play defensive end full time, but NFL scouts say he is an ideal fit at outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. They rave about how hard he competes and his ability to disrupt plays with his athleticism.
Kindle was an All-America running back in high school and was named the top two-way player in the nation as a senior. However, he said the Texas coaching staff recruited him strictly as a linebacker.
"They thought that would be the position that I'd play in the (NFL)," he said. "Them being the coaches and me being the player, I was going to listen. I could have went either way. But I'll tell you this, it's a lot better to give a lick than to take one."
1. Rolando McClain, Alabama
McClain is regarded as the best inside linebacker prospect in the draft, and the fact that he ran Nick Saban's defense on the field scores high points. McClain is a physical force in the middle who has a good feel for the game. He is an extremely mature player who should have an immediate impact on someone's defense.
2. Brandon Spikes, Florida
Spikes does not run particularly fast, but he's very instinctive and attacks ball carriers. He was the leader on a tough Florida defense. Scouts question how he'll handle himself in coverage against tight ends, but he has enough football savvy and competitiveness to get the job done.
3. Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri
Scouts love the range that Weatherspon has an outside linebacker. His production dropped as a senior but he still collected 100-plus tackles three consecutive seasons for the Gators. He has enough speed to chase down runners on the outside, and he also scores high marks for his attitude and leadership.
Pat Angerer, Iowa
Besides having a perfect last name for a linebacker, Angerer is a hard-nosed player who is pretty athletic. His lack of size (6-0, 235 pounds) is an obvious problem, but he knows how to play the game. He might not develop into an elite linebacker in the NFL, but he will find a way to be productive, even if it's on special teams.
It won't be surprising if the Vikings select a linebacker, perhaps even in the early rounds. Veteran Ben Leber is entering the final season on his contract so they might look to draft his replacement. It's also unclear if/when middle linebacker E.J. Henderson will return from his broken leg suffered in December. Depth is also an issue. The Vikings might have more pressing needs in the secondary, but we think linebacker is one position they will address at some point in the draft.