Scout's Notebook: LB Nate Triplett

Nate Triplett (Andy King/AP)

Seeking depth at middle linebacker with the return of E.J. Henderson tenuous, the Vikings went hometown product in drafting Nate Triplett. Here's the scouting report, from his high school days to what people were saying about him post-draft.

#58, Nate Triplett, LB (6030, 247, 4.65-4.75) Minnesota

Notes:
Born 3/15/87, in Maple Plain, Minn. Son of Keith and Sara Triplett. Graduated from Delano High School (west of the Twin Cities), where he was coached by Merrill Pavlovich. Was a second-team all-state choice by the Associated Press. Totaled 127 tackles, two tackles-for-loss, four sacks and four interceptions as a senior. Honor Roll student.

College: Redshirted as a walk-on in 2005. Participated in five plays (regular-season finale against Iowa) as a freshman in 2006. Reserve linebacker and played on special teams in all 12 games in 2007, recording nine tackles and earning the Bobby Bell Award as the team's top special teams player. Started 1 of 13 games in 2008; had 31 tackles, two PBU, one TFL, one fumble recovery and one blocked kick. Started all 13 games in 2009, registering 105 tackles, five TFL, two INTs, 12 PBU and two fumble recoveries (returned for 52 yards; YouTube clip). Construction management major.

Pre-Draft: Invited to the Indianapolis Scouting Combine, he also had a full allotment of Vikings coaches and scouts at Minnesota's Pro Day on March 10, 2010. Measured 6030 (6-3), 250 pounds. 4.65-4.70 40-yard dash; 1.60 10-yard; 2.65 20-yard; 4.37 20-yard shuttle; 7.02 three-cone drill; 33-inch vertical jump; 9-7 broad jump; 20 reps at 225 pounds.

Pro: Selected by the Vikings in the fifth round (No. 167 overall) in the 2010 NFL Draft. Check out this Vimeo.com clip of Triplett after being drafted.

Positives: Big, strong inside linebacker who was very productive as a senior. Was a defensive leader in college. Can play inside or the SAM spot in the Vikings' scheme. Instinctive. Active and stout against the run, particularly between the tackles. Stacks and sheds to make plays. High-motor player who goes all out on every play. Stood out on special teams as an underclassman, excelling as one of the team's top kickoff coverage men. Shows some aptitude as an inside blitzer. Worked out well and looked more athletic in pre-draft workouts.

Negatives: Has only started for one season. Didn't show great quickness, speed or range in the open field with some athletic limitations that could also show up on pass defense. A bit stiff in the hips. Needs technique development on shedding blocks and tackling.

Summary: Has a chance to make the team as a backup, especially if he can make an immediate impact on special teams.

What they said:

"Staying in Minnesota here has kind of been a dream of mine since I was like a little guy. You live in Minnesota your whole life and I wanted to be a Gopher since I could walk and I wanted to be a Viking ever since I knew what football was. It's been a long trip through there and I'm sure it means a lot to my family as well. They are going to be able to go to a lot more games now that I'm in Minnesota. For me and my family it means a lot and we are looking forward to a bunch of good years here in Minnesota." -Triplett

"Vikings MLB E.J. Henderson has suffered season-ending injuries in each of the past two seasons, and while his replacement in 2009, Jasper Brinkley, played well, Minnesota adds depth to the position by nabbing local Gophers star Nathan Triplett. Triplett is a stout run defender with great energy, but lacks elite athleticism." –NFL.com

"The Vikings need someone to challenge for the inside linebacker position with E.J. Henderson sidelined. This is a bit of a reach, but not a big deal at the end of Round 5. (Pick Grade: B)" –WalterFootball.com

"He'll get a chance to push Jasper Brinkley for a roster spot at MLB. The more Brinkley had to play last season, the more he got exposed." –Adam Caplan, Scout.com


Kevin Brown has been providing personnel analysis and writing about the Vikings for more than 20 years for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.


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