After it was all said and done, only three Hokies were taken in the 2014 NFL Draft, leaving many players available for free agent signings. Probably the most lucrative of these players along with former Tech defensive end James Gayle, was linebacker Jack Tyler who ended up signing with the Minnesota Vikings.
It just wouldn't have been right not being back in my favorite role. Getting my shot with the Vikings! Now watch again how I do this
— Jack Tyler (@JackInTheBox58) May 11, 2014
In 54 career games at Virginia Tech, Jack Tyler racked up 286 tackles with 32.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. In 2012 he earned the distinction of First-Team Coaches All-ACC, Second Team All-ACC, and in 2013 earned Second Team All-ACC (Coaches and ACSMA). Tyler was also a semifinalist for the 2013 Burlsworth Trophy, given to the nation’s top player who began their career as a walk-on. If one thing is for sure, the Vikings are getting a sure tackler and a hard worker.
For me, during his career in Blacksburg, Tyler was Mr. Reliable at inside linebacker. He was also flying around, making tackles, making plays, and definitely has a nose for the football. Most Hokie fans know what Tyler brings to the table: he's an excellent run-stopper and can fill gaps with the best of them, but when it comes to pass defense, Tyler may need a bit of work for improvement as he had no interceptions and only five passes defended in his college career.
The Vikings need more linebacker production and ended up filling their needs with UCLA's Anthony Barr, Georgia Tech's Brandon Watts, and eventually Jack Tyler. In 2013 the Vikings defense ranked 26th out of the 32 NFL teams (13th Rushing and 29th Passing). Minnesota allowed 110.4 yards per game on the ground and saw most of its run stopping from inside linebacker Chad Greenway, who had 134 total tackles. With the addition of Anthony Barr, they'll see improved run stopping and an improved pass rush with his speed. But what about Jack Tyler?
I see Tyler putting in quality time on the practice squad and eventually working his way up and dressing for a regular season game. He's going back to his roots and will have to start from the bottom, much like he did as a walk-on at Virginia Tech. He's tough, can tackle, and possesses an elite work ethic. At six-foot, 230 pounds, Tyler has the build and will have all the time in the world to develop into a skilled NFL linebacker. He may have went undrafted, but his heart has first round talent.
The Vikings are fairly thin at inside linebacker, which gives Tyler the opportunity to showcase his abilities and skills in the preseason. His size and tackling are the most lucrative attributes, but he'll have to get a bit faster and work on passing defense. Ultimately, Tyler will most likely be the hardest worker at the Vikings camp and be given every opportunity to make a lasting impression in order to gain a spot on the depth chart.