Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, entering his sixth year with the franchise, had positive words to say about the team’s linebacker corps.
Zimmer, 63, is coming off a missed playoff season in 2018 with the Vikings, who lost the NFC Championship Game in 2017.
Nevertheless, Mike Zimmer is high on his defensive unit, including veteran Anthony Barr — who re-signed with the Vikings after flirting with the New York Jets in free agency — plus Eric Kendricks and Kentrell Brothers.
Here’s what Mike Zimmer had to say about the linebackers (via ESPN’s Courtney Cronin):
“I think it’s the best group we’ve had since I’ve been here, depth-wise. There’s a possibility of 7 guys. A possibility of all of them being up on game day.”
The Vikings were middle of the pack in allowing rushing yards last season, at 1,815 yards, good for 18th in the league in 2018. Additionally, Minnesota gave up 13 rushing touchdowns but when rushing the quarterback, the Twin Cities franchise did a splendid job—50 sacks last season was tied for second-best.
While the 27-year-old Barr portends to be the star linebacker on the team, Zimmer is impressed with the depth for that unit, which also includes Eric Wilson, Ben Gedeon, Devante Downs, and Reshard Cliett. The Vikings also selected USC linebacker Cameron Smith in the fifth round of the 2019 draft.
Wilson is a 24-year-old former undrafted free agent. He signed with the Vikings after the 2017 draft. He played in all 32 games in his two-year career while making four starts.
Gedeon is a former fourth-round selection who has made 78 combined tackles in two seasons. Downs is a 2018 seventh-round pick who played in 11 games last year and Cliett, 27, is a journeyman linebacker Minnesota signed to the practice squad late last season.