By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Minneapolis, MN - After taking Friday night off from the NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings kicked off their third day of selecting by addressing yet another need and drafting an outside linebacker.
With the 23rd selection in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings selected Gerald Hodges, outside linebacker from Penn State.
Hodges, a converted safety, will likely compete for an outside position as it is thought that Erin Henderson will now make the transition from the outside will to the middle linebacker in the Vikings 4-3 defense.
STRENGTHS: Former safety with short-area quickness to handle coverage responsibilities on multiple levels. Stays with running backs and tight ends in man coverage, comes off one target in zone to lay a hit on the underneath route. Flashes downhill speed to wrap up ballcarriers or force them into decisions. Active hands when engaged, willing to be physical. Works through traffic to the ball in tight quarters. Stays with receivers on short outs, can knock away the pass without interfering.
WEAKNESSES: Has only average bulk and length to take on NFL-sized linemen and tight ends. Does not consistently take advantage of interception opportunities. Lunges and fail to break down in the open field at times so more elusive ballcarriers can avoid him. Can be fooled on misdirection plays. Needs to prove himself a capable blitzer, doesn’t beat blocks consistently to force quarterbacks into making throws. Will get locked onto blocks, doesn't always play with proper leverage.
NFL COMPARISON: Quincy Black
BOTTOM LINE: Hodges is a converted safety who is growing into a NFL starting Sam linebacker’s frame -– but he still has the movement skills to bring down ballcarriers in space. Hodges most impressive trait is his ability to cover, however. He needs to improve at disengaging from blocks, but his coverage skills will likely see him selected on the second day.
Aj Mansour covers Minnesota Sports for KFAN.com. Feel free to leave comments and questions regarding this post in the space provided below. For Vikings' updates and breaking Vikings' news, follow Aj on Twitter. @AjKFAN