Vikings ink draft picks Hodges, Mauti, Dawkins to rookie deals
Hodges was selected 120th overall in the second-round of the 2013 NFL draft by the Vikings. The 22-year-old Hodges is expected to contest for playing time at one of the outside spots. The Vikings have a void at linebackers after Jasper Brinkley signed with the Arizona Cardinals as a free agent. They currently have Erin Henderson in the middle and Chad Greenway on the strongside, but could add a veteran linebacker to the group this offseason. However, if things play out smoothly for Hodges and Henderson is moved to middle linebacker instead of adding a veteran to the mix, Hodges could be starting on the weakside spot this year.
Although Hodges began his career at Penn State as a college safety, he quickly developed into one of the Big Ten’s best linebackers. The 6-foot-1, 237 pound Hodges compiled 109 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions, one sack, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery at Penn State last season.
Michael Mauti was also a very productive player or the Nittany Lions, although the 23-year-old’s medical history of three ACL injuries during his time at Penn State resulted in his drop to the seventh-round in the 2013 NFL draft. The 6-foot-2, 243 pound Mauti amassed 95 tackles, four tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery while appearing in 11 games last year before he missed the end of the season with the a torn ACL. However, Mauti said he expects to be ready in time for the Vikings’ training camp in July. Mauti will give the Minnesota Vikings another option at linebacker.
Florida State defensive lineman Everett Dawkins was the Vikings’ 229th overall pick in the seventh-round of the 2013 NFL draft. The pass-rushing defensive tackle Dawkins could provide the Vikings with another option to take some of the load off veteran Kevin Williams. The Vikings’ first-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft, University of Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd could also get some playing time at the position.
The 22-year-old Dawkins had 26 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and a half-sack for the Seminoles last season.