Jayron Kearse has taken a step forward the last few years and has become a key depth piece in the Minnesota Vikings defense and now it appears that they may be looking into the possibility of having him on the field more. Kearse has spent his career thus far as a safety and defensive back, but Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press said on Tuesday that the Vikings are looking at potentially moving him to linebacker.
“Sources say #Vikings looking this spring into moving Jayron Kearse from safety to weakside linebacker. The 6-4, 215-pound Kearse was a linebacker in high school. Vikings didn’t draft an outside backer & drafted a safety (Marcus Epps) & signed an undrafted safety (Micah Abernathy),” Tomasson tweeted.
What does this mean for the safeties and linebackers? If this is true, it could put Kearse in position to compete for the job on the weak side, which has been held down by Ben Gedeon the last two seasons. Generally speaking, that position is the first one off the field when the team goes into nickel and dime packages, so it is not like they get the same amount of snaps as Anthony Barr or Eric Kendricks would.
Mike Zimmer’s defense has had to adapt in the last few seasons as offenses have adapted around the league, so having a player like Kearse on the field more may be of interest to them and getting a better athlete on the field. It also could create a scenario where both Marcus Epps and Micah Abernathy have a shot to crack the active roster if they hold up their end of the bargain, making them the backups to Harrison Smith and Anthony Harris at the safety spots.
Both sides of the ball would be addressed after the first four selections and they handled needs on the other side of the ball before the last day was all said and done with picks of linebacker Cameron Smith, defensive tackle Armon Watts, safety Marcus Epps and cornerback Kris Boyd. The Vikings closed out the event with long snapper Austin Cutting from Air Force. The Vikings added a trio of players on Saturday in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, bringing in two players in the trenches and one in the secondary.
Minnesota, which had three picks in a four-selection span, started off its run by taking Arkansas defensive tackle Armon Watts with the 190th overall pick.
The Vikings then went back-to-back, selecting Wyoming safety Marcus Epps at pick No. 191.
Minnesota finished off the flurry by adding Elon offensive tackle Olisaemeka Udoh with the 193rd overall pick in the draft.
Safety presents a whole new issue for the Vikings. Harrison Smith is one of the best in the league at the position, and he is a staple of the defense. After him, there aren’t any guarantees. Anthony Harris will be the frontrunner to start next to Smith at the start of camp. He showed tremendous growth while Sendejo missed time last season. The only other safety on the roster with any meaningful experience is Jayron Kearse. Kearse has been a stud on special teams in his career, but recent murmurings suggest he could move to linebacker next season.
2019 sixth-round pick Marcus Epps joins Derron Smith and Micah Abernathy in the competition for a backup spot. The Vikings lack depth on the back end of the defense, which is vital for their defense.Both sides of the ball would be addressed after the first four selections and they handled needs on the other side of the ball before the last day was all said and done with picks of linebacker Cameron Smith, defensive tackle Armon Watts, safety Marcus Epps and cornerback Kris Boyd. The Vikings closed out the event with long snapper Austin Cutting from Air Force.