Rick Spielman and the Vikings getting an A- from me or anyone else is unheard of, but they deserve it. NFL fans around the country watched live coverage of this year’s draft and everyone knew that QB’s Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III would be the first two picks. The first shot at any kind of suspense was the Vikings at #3. Less than an hour before the draft began, Minnesota traded back one spot with Cleveland and picked up a couple of additional picks. This was a very nice bit of poker played by Spielman and the Vikings. The Browns absolutely wanted Trent Richardson, RB from Alabama. Rumors were circulating that Tampa Bay was going to trade up with Minny and take the Bama RB. That created enough doubt in the minds of the Browns war room to move up one spot and get their guy. The Vikings still managed to get the guy they wanted all along in USC OT Matt Kalil at #4 and that was just the beginning.
Experts around the country had been projecting Kalil to go to the Vikings for months. There were some rumblings about WR Justin Blackmon, but the Vikes have been burned by taking a WR in the top 10(Troy Williamson 2005). Unless he looked like the next Calvin Johnson, they were not going to draft a receiver that high. Just days before the draft, another player, CB Morris Claiborne from LSU was creeping in to the picture, probably because Minnesota had a definite need for secondary help and this guy appears to be the best DB in this year’s class. In reality though, Kalil is the best OL in the draft and was probably who the Vikings were going to take the entire time. He will be starting day one and protecting Christian Ponder’s blind side. At the end of the season it could be Joe Webb he is blocking for, but that’s a whole different story.
Minnesota used a couple of their picks to trade up in to the bottom of the 1st round to take S Harrison Smith from Notre Dame. Smith was a four-year starter for the Irish and looks to be a great fir for the Vikings. He has good size(6’2″ 213lbs) and is always around the ball. Minnesota has not had a long term answer at safety since Robert Griffith in the Denny Green days and haven’t had any answer since Darren Sharper left for the Saints a few years ago.
After the !st round, Minnesota began gathering all sorts of players to fill areas of need. In the 3rd round they took Josh Robinson (CB UCF). Robinson was a three-year starter at UCF that is a solid pick. He has good speed(4.4) and while size isn’t great(5’10″ 199lbs) he has demonstrated good ball skills and figures to contribute in a limited role immediately. The Vikings had three 4th round picks and all went towards offense. They selected a pair of WR from Arkansas and a FB/TE from USC. Of the two wideouts taken, Jarius Wright was the proven commodity. He has legit 4.4 speed and was consistently productive. His downside is that he is not big(5’10″ 180lbs). The other Razorback is Chris Childs, a guy who was a little inconsistent, but has good size(6’3″ 219lbs). In today’s NFL, everybody wants a big receiver who can make plays. Whether or not he can be the next Sidney Rice remains to be seen. Rhett Ellison(FB/TE USC) was the pick in between the two WR’s. He is a physical player and has been a hybrid throughout his college career. Minnesota fans hope he is the next Jim Kleinsasser.
The later rounds included another ND DB in Robert Blanton, a kicker in Blair Walsh(Georgia), and a LB from NC State, Audie Cole. The most intriguing pick on the final day however, was Trevor Guyton(DE Cal). This guy had limited playing time, but did start all 13 games his senior year and showed flashes of greatness. As an underclassmen, he was stuck playing behind two guys that became 1st round pick’s in Cameron Jordan and Tyson Alualu, so there is a viable reason for his lack of playing time. Guyton is your prototypical DE at 6’3″ 285 lbs and quick off the ball. This is the pick that could be a real steal. Only time will tell.
That is the most important thing to remember. Today, this draft class appears to be excellent, but we won’t really know until 3-4 years down the road. For now though, it’s hard to imagine the Vikings front office doing a much better job than they did. Gentlemen, A-, you deserve it.
About the Author
Written by Sean Eckhardt
Univ of Alabama alumni. Born and raised outside Chicago, IL. Currently live in Florida. Some of my favorite teams include the Chicago Cubs, Minnesota Vikings, Miami Heat, and the Florida Panthers. My interests outside of sports include music, outdoor activities, and anything with a motor(cars, bikes, boats, etc...).