A quick pick-by-pick analysis of the Vikings 2012 draft…
LT Matt Kalil – 1st round
Projected to be a cornerstone LT for the next decade and allows the Vikings to solidify their offensive line by moving Charlie Johnson to LG and holding a robust competition at RG among Joe Berger, Chris DeGeare, Brandon Fusco and Geoff Schwartz.
S Harrison Smith – 1st round
A 2-year captain at Notre Dame who is known for his intelligence, leadership, consistency and tackling ability, Smith will start from Day 1 at safety.
CB Josh Robinson – 3rd round
The fastest player at the Combine, Robinson has explosive athletic qualities and will compete for time at both CB and punt returner in his rookie season. If he can be the 4th CB and contribute on special teams as a rookie, this pick is a success. From a long-term perspective, Robinson could compete for a starting spot at CB some day.
WR Jarius Wright – 4th round
One of my favorite moves of the draft. Wright provides depth behind Percy Harvin at slot receiver should he sustain an injury or should the Vikings chose to deploy Harvin in the backfield or as an outside receiver on occasion. Wright, a First-Team All-SEC WR in 2011, is an explosive athlete with big-time production at Arkansas.
TE Rhett Ellison – 4th round
Seems to be a player who can fulfill the role of blocking TE and FB. No one can replace Jim Kleinsasser, but that’s the thinking behind this pick perhaps. Ellison is a blue-collar, nose-to-the-grindstone player who will quickly become a fan-favorite in Minnesota, similar to how Kleinsasser’s career progressed.
WR Greg Childs – 4th round
A great value pick here, as a knee injury caused Childs to fall from a 1st- or 2nd-round prospect last year to a mid-round prospect this year. Childs has prototypical size for an outside WR at 6-3, 219 pounds, and he also has great speed and ball skills.
CB Robert Blanton – 5th round
Blanton will likely move from CB to safety with the Vikings and perhaps even join Smith, his college teammate, as a starter in 2012. Good position flexibility here for Blanton, plus he can be a special teams contributor right away as well.
K Blair Walsh – 6th round
Walsh has a very strong leg and was one of just three kickers with a draftable grade on the Vikings board. His accuracy dipped in 2011, but also consider he was 40 of 46 as a sophomore and junior. His accuracy dipped last year because he had so many attempts (led nation in FG tries) and because he had a high number of long attempts. A good selection here because it adds competition to the kicker position with the ever-steady and reliable Ryan Longwell also still in the fold.
LB Audie Cole – 7th round
Cole adds competition to his position, and his best attribute may be position flexibility, as he can play all three LB spots in the Vikings defense.
DL Trevor Guyton – 7th round
Similar to Cole, Guyton is a late-round selection who has a chance to stick around because of his position flexibility. Guyton can play DE or DT, will add competition to the defensive line, and could contribute as a special teams player as well.
Tags: 2012 NFL Draft, Audie Cole, Blair Walsh, Greg Childs, Harrison Smith, Jarius Wright, Josh Robinson, Matt Kalil, Rhett Ellison, Robert Blanton, Trevor Guyton
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 510 Comments »
The Vikings entered the offseason with several items on their to-do list, and one of those items was “upgrade the WR position.” Over the past week or so, the Vikings have done a nice job of utilizing the draft and free agency to do just that.
A week ago, the Vikings returning receivers with significant playing time under their belt from the 2011 season were limited to: Devin Aromashodu, Percy Harvin and Michael Jenkins. Several young players, including Manny Arceneaux and Stephen Burton, were also in the fold, but none of them contributed significantly a season ago.
Fast-forward to now, though, and you see improvement. No one will characterize the Vikings WR position as an embarrassment of riches at this point, but there is plenty of reason for optimism about what the Vikings have added.
It started prior to the draft, when the Vikings reached agreement on a free agent contract with veteran Jerome Simpson. A 2nd-round pick of the Bengals in 2008, Simpson had his best season a year ago when he hauled in 50 receptions for 725 yards and 4 TDs. He brings good size and elite athleticism to the Vikings WR corps, and will provide the Vikings offense with the outside, field-stretching presence it needs.
Then during the draft, the Vikings used two 4th-round selections to add even more talent to the group. Jarius Wright, an explosive and ultra-productive slot receiver for Arkansas, was added first. Just minutes later, the Vikings also added Greg Childs, a childhood friend and college teammate of Wright’s. Childs is the prototypical outside WR because of his great size (6-3, 219 pounds) and speed (4.54 in 40-yard dash) combination along with his ability to make acrobatic catches and win versus coverage down the field.
Again, let’s not put the cart before the horse and declare mission accomplished when it comes to improving the passing game. But there’s no question the Vikings added 3 talented players to their WR corps over the last week, and that’s an exciting development for Vikings fans and surely for Vikings QB Christian Ponder.
Tags: Christian Ponder, Devin Aromashodu, Greg Childs, Jarius Wright, Michael Jenkins, Percy Harvin
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 133 Comments »
It may be hard to believe, but after seven rounds of the NFL draft concluded and 253 players were selected, NFL-caliber players remain unclaimed and are looking to begin their pro careers. Going undrafted does not mean you are undeserving.
Two of the best players in franchise went undrafted, in fact, as Vikings Ring of Honor members John Randle and Mick Tingelhoff were both slighted by NFL teams during the draft; Randle is now a Hall of Famer. Furthermore, the following NFL stars were also initially judged as not worthy of being drafted: WR Miles Austin, S Ryan Clark, WR Victor Cruz, RB Arian Foster, TE Antonio Gates, LBs James Harrison and London Fletcher, QB Tony Romo and WR Wes Welker.
So who are the undrafted players this year that will soon become NFL stars? We don’t know that yet, but here’s a list of candidates to watch…
C Mike Brewster: An experienced, four-year starter for Ohio State, Brewster was a surprise undrafted player for me. He ranks second in school history with 49 consecutive starts and he’s known as a fiery and scrappy competitor.
LB Vontaze Burfict: The fall from prominence Burfict experienced over the past year is remarkable. He was once considered an elite LB prospect and potential 1st-round pick, but a rash of issues have since arisen and ultimately Burfict went undrafted this past weekend. Burfict was benched as a senior, committed several personal foul penalties, is considered a bad locker room influence and then bombed at the Combine and at his pro day. But he plays with aggression, physicality and passion.
CB Donnie Fletcher: Supposedly a subpar senior season and Senior Bowl performance hurt Fletcher’s draft stock, but he does have good size for the position (6-0, 201 pounds) and scouts like his ability to make plays (11 career INTs). Some say he’s pigeon-holed as Cover 2 player, so perhaps that caused him to slide?
CB Cliff Harris: An electric athlete with elite return skills, Harris is no doubt a better returner than defender. He did intercept Stanford’s Andrew Luck four times, though, and there’s nothing wrong with having great athletes on your team. Character concerns may have hurt his draft stock, as he had multiple run-ins with the law, multiple suspensions at Oregon and was ultimately dismissed from the program.
CB Leonard Johnson: A member of the North squad at this year’s Senior Bowl, Johnson was a solid-not-spectacular performer down in Mobile. A lot of scouts pigeon-hole Johnson as a Cover 2 CB, which could’ve hurt his draft stock. He’s also not an exceptional athlete, which is a tough label to overcome for a CB. I thought he’d be a mid-round selection at best, late-round selection at worst. But he went undrafted, and some team could find some good value in bringing him to camp.
CB Chase Minnifield: The kid has NFL bloodlines (father played), lots of experience, and moderate production while playing at the University of Virginia. He had 9 INTs during final his two seasons and has return experience as well. Minnifield is described as hard worker, versatile and a good character guy. Scouts say he’ll support the run, but he also needs to get stronger and tends to grab and clutch receivers down the field. Doesn’t have great athleticism overall, but is a smart player and could develop as a sub-package player with special teams ability.
QB Kellen Moore: If you look at his statistics and won-loss record in college, there’s no way to view him as an undrafted prospect. But there’s more to it than that, and as a result Moore was not chosen with a draft pick this year. He was also on the North squad at the Senior Bowl, and I saw first-hand that he doesn’t have a strong arm, has an awkward hitch in his delivery and doesn’t have the stature you associate with NFL QBs. But I would also say that you rarely see a QB get rid of the ball on time as consistently or with such an easy rhythm, and I was also impressed with Moore’s accuracy.
RB Chris Polk: Lack of production is certainly not the reason Polk went undrafted. He became just the third Washington player to rush for 1,000 yards in a season multiple times and he finished his career as the second-leading rusher in school history with 4,049 yards. Polk is also just one of seven Pac-10 (now Pac-12) players to rush for more than 4,000 yards. He took a medical redshirt in 2008 for shoulder injury and reports say he runs high and doesn’t have breakaway speed.
Tags: 2012 NFL Draft
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 23 Comments »