Claiborne-Over-Kalil Talk Heats Up Around Vikings

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 21, 2012 – 12:39 pm

The NFL draft is a premier event on the sports calendar, largely because of the drama involved with not knowing – but then finding out – where the country’s top college football players will begin their professional careers. This year, however, the level of drama has been reduced a bit at the top of the 1st round.

It’s all but a foregone conclusion that the Indianapolis Colts will take QB Andrew Luck with the #1 pick and that the Washington Redskins will take QB Robert Griffin III with the #2 pick. It’s also been assumed for several months now that the Vikings will take LT Matt Kalil with the #3 pick.

But not so fast.

Talk is heating up now that Kalil might not be a lock to go to Minnesota at #3 after all. I’ve had several fans email with a compelling case for the Vikings to take LSU CB Morris Claiborne instead of Kalil. Earlier this week, St. Paul Pioneer Press columnist Bob Sansevere broached this same topic, citing a conversation he had withVikings GM Rick Spielman in which there was more gushing about the CB than the LT. And then there’s this from a website I frequent called the NationalFootballPost, where NFP’s Matt Bowen provides plenty of reasons for the Vikings to choose Claiborne instead of Kalil.

Again, there’s a compelling case to be made for taking Claiborne at #3. The Vikings ranked 26th against the pass in 2011 and they yielded the most passing TDs. On top of that, the Vikings play in a division that features 3 productive passers in Jay Cutler, Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford, along with a talented crew of WRs led by the likes of Greg Jennings in Green Bay, Calvin Johnson in Detroit and now Brandon Marshall in Chicago.

While Chris Cook and Antoine Winfield should be in the fold for 2012, there’s still another starting CB spot that is currently vacant, and the Vikings have not signed a starting-caliber free agent CB to compete for that job. Does that mean they plan to select one such CB with their 1st-round pick?

All-in-all, I’m still leaning toward taking Kalil with the #3 pick. I see him as a 10-year starter and multiple-time Pro Bowler at a premier position. He’ll be a key cog in an offensive line that will protect a young franchise QB and block for the NFL’s best RB. Nothing against Claiborne, I think he’ll be a fine player at an important position, too. But right now, I’m picking Kalil because his talents and skill set project well to the next level and because he’ll aid the development of Christian Ponder.

What do you think, Vikings fans? Let us know by leaving your thoughts in the comments section below this entry.

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Vikings Sign RB Hilliard; DT Evans

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 21, 2012 – 12:26 pm

On Wednesday the Vikings made official the signing of two free agents, with RB Lex Hilliard joining the club and DT Fred Evans re-signing.

Hilliard is a 4th-year player who was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the 6th round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He has rushed for 130 yards and 2 TDs in his career. A product of the University of Montana, Hilliard helped the Dolphins rank 4th in the NFL in rushing in 2009 when they ran for 2,231 yards. The Montana native also has 26 receptions for 210 yards and 2 TDs receiving over his 3-year career.

Evans joined the Vikings organization as a free agent in 2007. In his 5 seasons with the Vikings, Evans has played in 64 games and started two, recording 73 totals tackles along with 8 tackles for loss and 1.0 sack.

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