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.
Tags: 2012 NFL Draft, Rick Spielman
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