As I mention every year, I don’t follow college football, so the draft is something I don’t have particularly strong opinions on — I have opinions on which positions the Vikings should be drafting, but not on the specific players who could fill those roles. I depend on the sports writers at the Star Tribune, the Pioneer Press, and 1500 ESPN to do the legwork for me, and the Vikings fan bloggers, like the Daily Norsemen to opinionate.
The Vikings came into the first round of the NFL 2012 draft with ten picks over the three day draft. At the end of the evening, having selected the top prospect at left
guard and a safety, they still have ten picks in the subsequent rounds. New boss Rick Spielman got great value from trading the #3 pick to Cleveland for the #4 pick plus extra picks in the 4th, 5th, and 7th rounds (that’d be #118 overall, #139 overall, and #211 overall). A nifty bit of trading.
Spielman followed up that trade by selecting Matt Kalil from USC (who was the overwhelming favourite pick of both the Minnesota sports media and the fan blogs). Toward the end of the first round, Spielman then swapped Minnesota’s 2nd and 3rd round picks with Baltimore for their 1st round pick (#29 overall), using that pick to select Harrison Smith of Notre Dame.
Here’s Christopher Gates of the Daily Norseman to summarize the first day of the draft from the Vikings’ point of view:
Minnesota selected USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil, a guy that said that he could really envision himself being in Minnesota after the time he spent with the Vikings. When he met with the team a few weeks ago, he told them that if the Vikings took him, they wouldn’t have to worry about a left offensive tackle for the next decade, and apparently the Vikings agreed. His acquisition will officially put Charlie Johnson into the left guard spot vacated with Steve Hutchinson’s release. . .something you knew if you listened to Eric’s audio from Rick Spielman’s press conferenceafter the pick. . .and solidify two spots on a Minnesota offensive line that was overmatched for the majority of last season. I said for weeks that Matt Kalil was really the “duh” pick for the Vikings, and I’m happy that the team not only made the correct decision, but did so while acquiring three more selections.
The trade gave the Vikings thirteen total picks, and they used some of that ammunition to move back into the first round at number 29 overall. In order to make that jump, they sent the Baltimore Ravens the #35 and #98 overall selections. The Vikings took Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith with that selection, as they try to solidify another unit that was disastrous in 2011, the defensive secondary. Smith projects as more of an “in the box” type of safety at this point, as he’s willing to come up in run support and in generally a very sure tackler. However, he has shown enough athleticism to be able to be solid in coverage as well. The pick was a bit of a surprise. . .I thought the Vikings would go with a receiver like Stephen Hill after they jumped back into the first round. . .but Smith is a pretty solid pick and should be able to immediately contribute.
Tom Pelissero has a Q&A with Matt Kalil:
Matt Kalil had a hunch he was going to end up with the Minnesota Vikings.
Well, more than a hunch.
Not only did Kalil believe the Vikings would select him in the first round of the NFL Draft, the left tackle out of Southern California said on Thursday night he was “really relieved” when he saw a Minnesota number on his cell phone while they were on the clock after trading back to No. 4.
“I think that I had an idea that’s where I might end up,” Kalil said. “But the way the draft works, and especially right now, all these trades going down and everything, I was trying to keep open-minded.”
He was scheduled to arrive in the Twin Cities early Friday and meet with reporters at 1:30 p.m., along with fellow first-round pick Harrison Smith.
Mark Craig (from whom I stole the “Trader Rick” nickname for my headline) has a brief entry on Harrison Smith:
Smith, a 6-2, 213-pounder, had been considered a second-rounder who might climb into the bottom of the first round, which he did. He also fills a huge need for a Vikings team that had only three safeties on the roster, including Eric Frampton, who’s strictly a special teams guy.
Smith will likely start immediately alongside Mistral Raymond. Considering the lack of depth at the position, don’t rule out possibly re-signing Husain Abdullah. The Vikings had an offer on the table for Abdullah.