Rookie linebacker Ben Gedeon has generated a bit of buzz of late. With an opening at the weakside linebacker (WILL) spot, Gedeon could be a starter in week one. Let’s take a look at his fit and role in the defense.
When Chad Greenway retired at the end of last season, the Vikings knew they had a hole to fill in the defense. Greenway was never the most athletic player on the field, but his instincts and leadership kept him in the league. While Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks will share a leadership role, the defense still needs a third linebacker. That’s where Ben Gedeon comes into play.
In Week Two of the preseason, Gedeon started at weakside linebacker which is a good start to his career. Gedeon got the nod over Edmond Robinson and Emmanuel Lamur, who have spent time in this defense. In a Mike Zimmer defense, that is huge. He has caught the eyes of the coaching staff, now he just has to continue growing as a player.
— Anthony Broome (@anthonytbroome) August 19, 2017
Gedeon led the Michigan football team with 94 tackles in 2016, including 15 tackles for a loss. So far this preseason, he leads the Vikings with 11 total tackles and has shown his knack for getting to the ball. Adding him to the base formation in Zimmer’s defense will vastly improve the run game. And although his coverage skills are still developing, the Vikings should not focus on them. Last year, the aforementioned Greenway played in just 38 percent of the defensive snaps. Meanwhile, four different cornerbacks played in more than 50 percent of snaps. So, as a weakside, run-stopping linebacker, Gedeon’s task will be simple: get to the football.
The Vikings finished last season ranked 20th in rushing yards allowed on 4.2 yards per carry. The defense as a whole is top-notch, but an improved rush defense can push the team to new heights. In a base set in rushing situations, Ben Gedeon is the best option for the Vikings.
Instead of relying on a veteran with a similar skillset while Gedeon develops, Gedeon should get the experience right away. This would allow him to get accustomed to the NFL while having a similar role as he did in college. It’s time to trust the young talent on the roster for the sake of player development. Down the road, we may be looking at him being a fourt-round pick as a steal of this draft.