Once again we thank Christopher Gates of The Daily Norseman for taking the time to discuss the second of two Hokies to be signed by Minnesota this past week, Jack Tyler. Please check out Christopher's excellent Minnesota Vikings blog here, and bookmark it so you can check up on Tyler's progress. Now on to the questions!
Can he make the team?
I think he certainly can make the team. On a Vikings' defense that might have been the worst in the National Football League last year, the linebacker corps might have been the worst unit on that defense. The team has plenty of young players at the position, most notably Michael Mauti, Audie Cole, and Gerald Hodges, but none of them can be classed as a sure thing yet. The Vikings also use a lot of linebacker types on special teams, so Tyler has a chance to make the squad in that capacity as well.
If he does what kind of role does he play for the defense with the thin depth at middle linebacker behind Chad Greenway?
It's tough to project a role for Tyler, or any of the linebackers, at the present time because of the fact that a new coach is coming in with a new scheme. For the past few years, we had the same boring 4-3 "Cover-2" system that really didn't vary all that much. Now we're hearing about how more varied and complex the defense is going to be under new coach Mike Zimmer and new defensive coordinator George Edwards. If Tyler does make the squad, he'll likely see a lot of time on special teams, and serve as a backup to either a returning Jasper Brinkley or Michael Mauti in the middle of the Vikings' defense. But, he's kind of starting from the ground level like everyone else, and if the coaches like what they see, maybe I'm underestimating him a bit.
Does Anthony Barr overshadow any success that Tyler might have as a lot of attention will be paid toward him?
Well, obviously the team's first selection is going to get the majority of the focus, because the team has the most invested in him from a financial standpoint. But the "non-superstars" on a roster are every bit as important as the big name guys, and if a player like Jack Tyler make the squad, I'm sure that he'll get plenty of recognition for his achievements. Going from not even being drafted to being one of the 53 best guys in an NFL training camp is no small feat, and if he does become a full-time member of the Minnesota Vikings, I know that we will definitely be applauding him for it.
We have been applauding Tyler for his above-and-beyond effort for a long while now, and nothing would surprise us here. Thanks again to Christopher, and best of luck to Jack Tyler, who is probably the last person in the world that requires it.
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