VDT: Iowa LB Jack Campbell Is an Elite Run-Stopper
The Minnesota Vikings could use an injection of youth and physicality in their defense, especially at the linebacker positions. Both starters Jordan Hicks and Eric Kendricks are over the age of 30, and either of them could be cap casualties this offseason.
Iowa LB Jack Campbell has been a beast in the middle of the Hawkeyes defense over the past two seasons, and now he’s hoping to be one of the first linebackers taken in the 2023 NFL Draft. The Vikings landed a promising prospect in Brian Asamoah in the third round of the 2022 Draft, so could they get another player of a similar caliber in that area this year?
That is the focus of today’s edition of Vikings Draft Thermometer series, PurplePTSD‘s one-stop shop for all your 2023 NFL Draft needs. Throughout this series, we have examined a number of prospects ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft, analyzing their strengths, weaknesses, what exactly their role could be at the NFL level, and most importantly, whether or not they could end up playing their first NFL snaps in a Vikings uniform.
- Height: 6’5
- Weight: 243 pounds
- School: Iowa
- Games Watched: Michigan (2022), Ohio State (2022), Wisconsin (2022), Minnesota (2022)
- 2019: 5 tackles (2 games)
- 2020: 29 tackles, 3.5 TFLs, 1.0 sack, 3 PDs, 1 INT, 1 FF
- 2021: 140 tackles, 3.5 TFLs, 1.0 sack, 6 PDs, 2 INTs, 1 FF, 2 FR
- 2022: 125 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, 1.0 sack, 1 PD, 2 INTs, 1 FF, 1 FR
Jack Campbell brings size to a defense that is closer to a modern-day EDGE than off-ball linebacker, but he thrived as soon as he got a chance to patrol the middle of the field for Iowa. He is a very physical player and thrives at the line of scrimmage, shedding blockers and being an elite run stopper.
Particularly in a Brian Flores defense, this skillset could come in handy as Minnesota needs a linebacker with the ability to cause chaos in the trenches against opposing offenses. On top of his promising physical traits, everyone that speaks of him raves about his leadership. He seems like a captain in the making at the NFL level.
Campbell begins running into problems when he’s forced to step back into pass coverage. He doesn’t have the elite speed that, say, a Brian Asamoah can bring to the table. He won’t be able to chase down the speedier slot receivers, and he likely needs to stick to one side of the field rather than try to play sideline-to-sideline.
- Draft Round: Mid Second-Early Third
- Immediate Role: Starting MIKE
- Best-Case Scenario: Leighton Vander Esch
- Vikings Draft Temperature: 60
As we talked about at the beginning, the Vikings need more youth at the off-ball linebacker spot. If they don’t go after one in the first round, or if they trade down (my gut-feeling is that a trade-down could be imminent), Jack Campbell could jump near the top of Minnesota’s board.
Campbell is a versatile backer that could thrive in either a 3-4 or 4-3 setup, and new defensive coordinator Brian Flores is likely to flip back and forth between either of them. Having a physical run-stopper at the linebacker spot could also be a huge beneficiary for Minnesota’s run defense that hasn’t ranked higher than 20th in yards per carry allowed since 2019.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.