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Senior Bowl Experience Paved Way For Vikings Interest In Harrison Smith

Posted by Mike Wobschall on April 26, 2012 – 11:35 pm

It seems like such a long time ago now, but the Senior Bowl is always an important aspect of the evaluation process for the Vikings. That aspect became even more important this year because the Vikings were assigned to coach the North squad.

While there’s no question coaching in the Senior Bowl is a taxing endeavor for many parts of the organization, there’s also no doubt that coaching in the Senior Bowl can give a team a significant advantage in the pre-draft player evaluation process. Having players sit in team meetings and run through the coaching staff’s position drills gives coaches and scouts the kind of up-close look they normally would not see.

“That was the one huge advantage of being able to coach the Senior Bowl because we got to know those players inside and out and know what they are about,” Vikings GM Rick Spielman said. “How they are in a meeting room. How they are out on the field. Our coaches know what it’s like to coach that player so that was a huge advantage for us and we know exactly what we are getting in Harrison Smith.”

Smith did enough at Notre Dame to warrant consideration as a 1st-round pick in this year’s draft. But it sounds like the Vikings experience with Smith at the Senior Bowl was more than enough to create significant interest in the 6-2, 214-pound safety.

“I thought I played well and did a good job and tried to do what they wanted me to do,” Smith said late Thursday night after being selected with the 29th overall pick. “But they never said anything about that they were going to draft me; there were a lot of good players down there.  I think it was just trying to get to know each other well and at the end of the day, I think they think I’m a good fit for them and I 100 percent agree.”

Why is Smith a good fit for the Vikings? Oh, let Spielman count the ways.

“I think he can do both, and that’s the thing that’s most appealing,” Spielman responded when asked if Smith was better versus the pass or run. “I know that he’s very aggressive in run support, very smart football player, very smart with his angles. Big safety that plays fast, but I also know how smart he is in coverage. Just watching the angles he takes to break on a pass, the anticipation to watch the quarterback and get a jump on a throw as its coming out. He has a lot of those instincts, that ability to make plays because he’s so smart and so instinctive.”


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Kalil Joins Proud Vikings-USC Fraternity

Posted by Mike Wobschall on April 26, 2012 – 7:29 pm

The Vikings made Matt Kalil the 1st-round choice on Thursday evening, and in so doing they ushered Kalil into a decorated and proud fraternity of both 1st-round offensive linemen from USC and Vikings offensive linemen drafted in the 1st round.

Kalil is the 17th USC OT selected in the 1st round since 1968, and the second USC OT selected with a 1st round pick in the last two years (Tyron Smith – Dallas Cowboys). He’s also the fifth USC player selected in the 1st round in Vikings franchise history and the eighth offensive linemen selected with a 1st-round pick in franchise history.

Take a look…

USC Players Drafted In 1st Round By Vikings
— OT Ron Yary #1 overall in 1968
— OT Steve Riley #25 overall in 1974
— S Joey Browner #19 overall in 1983
— DE Kenechi Udeze #20 overall in 2004

Vikings Offensive Linemen Drafted In 1st Round
– Ron Yary (USC) #1 overall in 1968
— John Ward (Oklahoma State) #25 overall in 1970
— Steve Riley (USC) #25 overall in 1974
— Randall McDaniel (Arizona State) #19 overall) in 1988
— Todd Steussie (California) #19 overall in 1994
— Korey Stringer (Ohio State) #24 overall in 1995
— Bryant McKinnie (Miami) #7 overall in 2002


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Vikings Get Their Man, Select LT Matt Kalil

Posted by Mike Wobschall on April 26, 2012 – 6:27 pm

There was some moving and shaking before the draft began, but GM Rick Spielman and the Vikings never took their eye off the prize. And that prize is a brand-new, battle-tested and physically imposing left tackle from USC – Matt Kalil.

After flip-flopping spots with the Cleveland Browns – moving from #3 overall to #4 overall – and acquiring three additional picks in the process, the Vikings selected the player many believed they would all along in Kalil. In the entire build-up to the draft, the Vikings were in a great position at #3 overall, and they took advantage of that great position by turning it into additional picks while still nabbing the player they coveted all along.

Measuring in at 6-6, 308 pounds, Kalil will step in and start at LT for the Vikings to provide pass protection for young QB Christian Ponder and road-grading run blocking for the team’s talented Adrian Peterson-Toby Gerhart RB duo. He’ll also allow the Vikings to consider shifting last year’s starting LT – Charlie Johnson – to an OG position where he could compete for a starting job and ultimately increase the team’ depth all along the offensive line.

Kalil started at LT for USC beginning in 2010, when he started all 13 games, and then started all 12 games in 2011 as well. His older brother, Ryan, also played at USC and is now a Pro Bowl center for the Carolina Panthers. Matt was a standout performer at the Combine in February, running the 40-yard dash in 4.99 seconds and impressing in the agility drills with times of 4.65 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle and 7.33 seconds in the 3-cone drill, which ranked among the best of all offensive linemen.

The Vikings acquired more than just a potential cornerstone LT in the 1st round on Thursday evening. They also netted 4th-round (#118 overall), 5th-round (139 overall) and 7th-round (#211 overall) choices from Cleveland in exchange for moving back one spot, giving them 14 total selections in the draft. Furthermore, in acquiring those extra selections, they gain ammunition to make a potential move up in the draft at a later time should they choose to pursue that route.


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Vikings Trade Back With Browns, Acquire Three More Picks

Posted by Ryan Cardinal on April 26, 2012 – 5:23 pm

The Vikings have traded the No. 3 overall pick in the Draft to the Browns for the No. 4 overall pick along with Cleveland’s 4th, 5th, and 7th round picks in this year’s Draft.

Here are the picks the Vikings currently have after the trade:

Round 1, Pick 4, No. 4 Overall (Acquired from Cleveland)

Round 2, Pick 3, No. 35 Overall

Round 3, Pick 3, No. 66 Overall

Round 4, Pick 3, No. 98 Overall

Round 4, Pick 23, No. 118 Overall (Acquired from Cleveland)

Round 4, Pick 33*, No. 128 Overall

Round 4, Pick 39*, No. 134 Overall

Round 5, Pick 3, No. 138 Overall

Round 5, Pick 4, No. 139 Overall (Acquired from Cleveland)

Round 6, Pick 5, No. 175 Overall (The Vikings got this pick from Cleveland in a trade for DE Jayme Mitchell.)

Round 7, Pick 3, No. 210 Overall

Round 7, Pick 3, No. 211 Overall (Acquired from Cleveland)

Round 7, Pick 16, No. 223 Overall (The Vikings got this pick from New England in the trade for WR Randy Moss.)

* Compensatory picks for losing Sidney Rice and Ray Edwards in free agency in 2011.

Traded Picks

Round 6, Pick 3 – The Vikings traded this pick to Washington for QB Donovan McNabb.


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Vikings Make Jerome Simpson Signing Official

Posted by Mike Wobschall on April 26, 2012 – 8:25 am

Reports surfaced earlier this week that the Vikings and WR Jerome Simpson had mutual interest, and then those reports were followed soon after by more reports that an agreement had been reached between the two sides.

On Thursday morning, confirmation of those reports was made. The signing of Simpson is official.

Simpson was a 2nd-round pick (#46 overall) of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2008 and had his best season last year with 50 receptions for 725 yards and 4 TDs. In Minnesota, he’ll be an outside, field-stretching WR who complements Percy Harvin very well.

We’ll have more on this signing once the dust settles from the NFL draft. Do not expect this signing to dramatically alter the Vikings approach in this year’s draft.


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One Last Look: Position-By-Position Top 5

Posted by Mike Wobschall on April 26, 2012 – 6:49 am

Yes, draft day is here. But it doesn’t begin until 7:00 p.m. CT. So to pass the time until then, take a look at my Top 5 rankings at each position and let us know what you think by leaving your thoughts in the comments section below this entry.

Quarterback
Andrew Luck
Robert Griffin III
Ryan Tannehill
Brandon Weeden
Kirk Cousins

Running Back
Trent Richardson
David Wilson
Doug Martin
Chris Polk
Isaiah Pead

Wide Receiver
Justin Blackmon
Michael Floyd
Kendall Wright
Reuben Randle
Stephen Hill

Tight End
Coby Fleener
Orson Charles
Dwayne Allen
Chase Ford
James Hanna

Offensive Tackle
Matt Kalil
Riley Reiff
*Cordy Glenn
Jonathan Martin
Mike Adams

*Glenn has versatility to play either guard or tackle in the NFL

Offensive Guard
David DeCastro
Kevin Zeitler
*Cordy Glenn
Amini Silatolu
Brandon Brooks

Center
Peter Konz
Ben Jones
David Molk
Philip Blake
Quentin Saulsberry

Defensive End
Quinton Coples
Andre Branch
Nick Perry
Chandler Jones
Cam Johnson

Defensive Tackle
Fletcher Cox
Michael Brockers
Brandon Thompson
Devin Still
Dontari Poe

Outside Linebacker
Melvin Ingram
Courtney Upshaw
Shea McClellin
Lavonte David
Zach Brown

Middle Linebacker
Luke Kuechly
Dont’a Hightower
James-Michael Johnson
Mychal Kendericks
Miles Burris

Cornerback
Morris Claiborne
Stephon Gilmore
Trumaine Johnson
Dre Kirkpatrick
Janoris Jenkins

Safety
Mark Barron
Harrison Smith
Charles Mitchell
Brandon Taylor
George Iloka


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Mock No More: Draft Day Is Finally Here

Posted by Mike Wobschall on April 26, 2012 – 5:57 am

The day many of you and all NFL teams have long been looking forward to is finally here. The 1st round of the 2012 NFL Draft will commence at 7:00 p.m. CT this evening, which means after months and months of speculating where the next generation of NFL players will begin their career, we’ll soon find out the answers.

We’ll have you covered from all angles throughout the entire 3-day draft right here on vikings.com. We have tons of pre-draft coverage on the site right now, more will be coming today, and then we’ll get immediate reaction from Vikings GM Rick Spielman following the Vikings decision tonight. Your “home base” for all vikings.com draft coverage can be found right here on the Vikings Draft Page.

Also, I’ll be appearing on Radio Voice of the Vikings Paul Allen’s 9-noon weekday radio show on KFAN 100.3 FM around 9:55 a.m. today, so be sure to check that out as PA and I discuss our final NFL draft-related thoughts. And finally, to pass the time until the draft begins check out my position-by-position Top 5 rankings here.


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