In addition to fourth-round linebacker Gerald Hodges, the Minnesota Vikings announced the signing of seventh-rounders Michael Mauti and Everett Dawkins Tuesday. That means they have signed three of their nine draft picks and appear to be fully invested in the process this week.
Mauti was teammates with Hodges at Penn State and joined him in the linebacker corps with the Nittany Lions, but three surgeries on his anterior cruciate ligaments brought down his draft stock. He tore the ACL in his right knee once and his left knee twice.
The latest injury, suffered Nov. 17, 2012, caused him to miss all of the last game of the season and left him unable to put together a full workout for NFL scouts before the draft.
He has been doing some running, but he was limited to being an interested observer when the Vikings went to seven-on-seven or full-team work during their rookie minicamp.
"I'm learning a lot, taking mental reps," he said after one practice. "It's a lot of information in one day and one weekend. I'm just trying to learn as much as I can and retain it. And then I'll have a lot to study."
In 39 games played at Penn State, he had only 22 starts, seven at weakside linebacker and 15 on the strong side. But when on the field, he was productive and efficient. In total, he recorded 210 tackles, including 13½ for losses, and 4½ sacks. He also caused four fumbles, recovered one and intercepted four passes he returned for a combined 125 yards.
He is expected to be used mostly at middle linebacker and might be able to compete for the starting job there if he returns in time for the start of training camp, his stated goal.
Dawkins was the Vikings' final pick of the draft, No. 229 overall, and is expected to compete for a rotational role on the defensive line. His forte is at under-tackle, where the Vikings already have Kevin Williams and Sharrif Floyd.
Florida State asked him to bulk up and play nose tackle last year and he got up to 315 pounds, which wasn't in his comfort zone. He is listed at 300 pounds on the Vikings' roster.
"My body and my playing style is more of an attack one-gap style and that's what Minnesota is," Dawkins said. "I'm loving everything about it and getting to go back to the way I used to play – getting up the field, getting at the quarterback and being able to make plays."
Mauti and Dawkins signed four-year deals with minimum salaries of $405,000 in 2013; $420,000 in 2014; $435,000 in 2015 and $450,000 in 2016. Mauti received a signing bonus of $62,728 and Dawkins is believed to be in line for a signing bonus of just over $50,000.
The Vikings still have six more picks to sign, including all three of their first-round selections.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Michael Mauti has struggled with knee injuries, but when he was on the field for Penn State, he was…