Over the last few years the Minnesota Vikings have been an afterthought in the NFC North. The Green Bay Packers are legit Super Bowl contenders, the Detroit Lions finally became relevant again after Matt Millen did his best to ruin the franchise, and the Chicago Bears seem to be a trendy playoff pick this off season. The Vikings are being picked for 4th in the division by just about everybody, so it’s a good thing they had such a stellar draft to give the fan base some hope for the future.
Minnesota did a great job by trading down in the draft and still getting the guy they wanted. Matt Kalil from USC is about a ‘sure thing’ left tackle prospect as there was in the draft. After taking a QB #1 last year, the Vikes needed to protect Christian Ponder with a quality left tackle.
With the extra picks they acquired in the Kalil trade they were confident in moving up to take Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith. Mike Mayock of the NFL Network calls him the best zone safety in the draft, so he’ll fit right in with Minnesota.
They stayed in the secondary with the next pick and snagged Central Florida corner back Josh Robinson. This is another experienced player that fit’s their scheme. All three of their top picks could be starting on week one.
They had three 4th round picks and they went offense with them all by taking a couple wide outs and a full back. USC’s Rhett Ellison is being brought on to block. He’s a big (6’5″ 251) FB/TE hybrid player that will earn his money with his physical hard hat lunch pail type play. Arkansas teammate wide receivers Jarius Wright and Greg Childs were picked sandwiched around the Ellison selection. Wright is a quick slot guy that seems to be the safer pick of the two, but if Childs can come back from his injury issues he’s a legit #1 WR type player.
Back to Notre Dame, and back to the secondary with the next pick. They filled a need with 6’1″ corner Robert Blanton. He’s another good zone player and he may me a candidate for a move to safety. He’ll be in the mix for some playing time in nickle and dime packages.
Georgia kicker Blair Walsh has a good chance to unseat Ryan Longwell as the Viking kicker. He has a strong leg and has shown consistency throughout his collegiate career.
They received very good value with their two 7th round picks. N.C. State linebacker Audie Cole had a 5th round grade by most scouts, and should be an immediate special teams contributor. Cal defensive end Trevor Guyton is a high motor, hustle player that could move inside at defensive tackle in the Vikings scheme.
Lester will be running down a few teams he believes came out winners in the 2012 NFL Draft. He’s already looked at the solid drafts of the Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens, and the New England Patriots. Stay tuned next week to see which team he spotlights next. He can also be found covering the Chicago Bears at Windy City Gridiron.