Trio Of 1st-Round Picks Set To Debut In Vikings-Jaguars Game

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 6, 2012 – 6:43 am

The 2012 regular season is now underway, as the Dallas Cowboys and NY Giants kicked things off at MetLife Stadium on Wednesday night. The game provided a glance at a few important factors, such as the importance of depth in the secondary (injuries are hurting the Giants), continuity along the offensive line (Dallas committed a countless number of procedural penalties), and life with replacement officials (they fared quite well).

Digging down a bit deeper, though, a fun subplot to watch was the performance of each team’s 1st-round pick.

The Cowboys moved up in the 1st round from the 14th overall selection to the 6th spot in order to select CB Morris Claiborne out of LSU. Claiborne certainly looked the part against New York, as he teamed with free agent acquisition Brandon Carr to provide the Cowboys with great coverage on the edge of the defense.  The Giants, holding the 32nd overall choice after winning the Super Bowl last year, selected RB David Wilson in the 1st round. Wilson had a less spectacular debut, but he did return kickoffs for the Giants and he displayed some ability as a runner, too (his fumble notwithstanding).

Sunday’s Vikings-Jaguars game at Mall of America Field could provide an even better look at 1st-round talent. Three 1st-round picks from last April’s draft will be on the field, with Matt Kalil and Harrison Smith slated to start for the Vikings and WR Justin Blackmon ready to go for the Jaguars.

The consensus top receiver in the draft, Blackmon appealed to the Jaguars so much that the team moved up to the #5 spot from #7 to ensure they could select him. Blackmon had a brief holdout before reporting to Jaguars training camp, but since joining the team he’s constantly impressed. Reports out of Jaguars training camp were overwhelmingly positive, and then Blackmon performed well on the field during the preseason, hauling in 10 receptions for 136 yards with 1 TD.

Blackmon is a player to watch for the Vikings defense on Sunday. He can win versus coverage down the field, but he might be most dangerous after the catch on short and intermediate routes. He’s hard to tackle and is a skilled runner with the ball.

In the proverbial poker game that is the NFL draft, Spielman and the Vikings strolled up to the table with a pretty big chip – the 3rd overall pick – and parlayed perfectly timed subterfuge with a tremendous working knowledge of other teams’ needs to turn that chip into a pair of immediate impact starters –Kalil at LT and Harrison Smith at safety. Coming away with Kalil and Smith in the first round was a win for the Vikings, a team coming off a 3-13 record and looking for players to plug into the starting lineup.

Kalil, who measures in at 6-7, 308 pounds, will be Christian Ponder’s blindside protector from the get-go and projects to be 10-year starter at one of the most important positions on the offensive side of the ball. In addition to providing pass protection, Kalil will also be a road-grading run blocker for the team’s talented RB duo of Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart.

Earlier this week, Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier was asked if he and GM Rick Spielman considered selecting Blackmon instead of Kalil. The Vikings had a need at both positions, and obviously ended up taking the LT instead. But a sound case could be made for the Vikings to consider Blackmon, a playmaking receiver who could’ve been a great weapon for the team’s passing game.

“For us, Matt Kalil, from early on in the process, was extremely high on our list as a priority,” Frazier said. “With our left tackle position being what it was coming out of the season, we had targeted that area if the right guy was there, to try to solidify that position and knowing how important it is for our team, for every team, but in particular when you have a young quarterback like we have, to solidify that left tackle position. Very excited about what he has done thus far and looking forward to him being a cornerstone for us at that left tackle position for a long, long time to come.”

In addition to acquiring Kalil after moving back one spot to the 4th overall position, the Vikings also netted 4th-round (#118 overall), 5th-round (139 overall) and 7t-round (#211 overall) choices from Cleveland. With that additional draft ammunition in the fold, the Vikings felt compelled later in the 1st round to send 2nd-round and 4th-round picks to Baltimore in exchange for the Ravens 1st-round pick (#29 overall) in order to address the secondary and select Smith.

Billed as an intelligent and instinctive defender with sound coverage skills and exceptional tackling ability, Smith will also be a starter beginning in Week 1. He brings an aggressive style to the Vikings secondary and could develop into the kind of player who is stout in coming up to defend the run and is territorial in defending the middle of the field against the pass.

As we detailed in an earlier entry highlighting 10 storylines to chase this week, there are many interesting subplots in this week’s Vikings-Jaguars matchup. The debut of three talented 1st-round picks is certainly near the top of the list.

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Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 21 Comments »

21 Responses to “Trio Of 1st-Round Picks Set To Debut In Vikings-Jaguars Game”

  1. By OTKalil2012 on Sep 6, 2012 | Reply

    First !!!

  2. By OTKalil2012 on Sep 6, 2012 | Reply

    It is prediction Thursday…First game is always the hardest to predict for me…

    Vikings 28…Jags 17…

    Still predict a 9-7 season for the Vikings…

    Also predict the Vikes go 3-3 within the division…

  3. By OTKalil2012 on Sep 6, 2012 | Reply

    I very much look to see this secondary needing to go through a learning curve…

    A learning curve which I believe will have the Vikings secondary playing very well in the second half of the season…

    I am not saying the secondary won’t make some big plays for the team early…Just that I expect some big mistakes early on also…

    Ponder will need some time to get his feet underneath him also..But I expect solid play at the QB position from Ponder…
    And by seasons end I believe Ponder will prove he belongs at the QB spot for many years to come if he can stay healthy…

    I personally will be disappointed if I see AP play this Sunday…We need AP this season…Having AP sit 3 games early might go a long ways to that end…Just my gut feeling patience is needed with the AP situation…

    Toby and Asiata (I like this young man) can handle the load at RB early…

  4. By Mike B. on Sep 6, 2012 | Reply

    OTK you are overly confident in your divisional picks. 2-4 is possible the Bears are struggling. As much as I dislike the Lions and Packers. I don’t see us beating either away or at home. This first game will set the tone for the season. I am very ready for the regular season. Last nights game was a good warm up for the Vikings game. I hope the New Vikings stadium has the digital displays the meadow lands has.

  5. By Mike B. on Sep 6, 2012 | Reply

    I think our secondary is going to have a tough time with Blackmon esp iin intermediate routes. We saw it last year with QBs picking ups apart with shorter throws and our inability to tackle at the point of reception. It’s going to be a tough game.

  6. By Mike B. on Sep 6, 2012 | Reply

    oops us

  7. By Parody on Sep 6, 2012 | Reply

    Why is Blackmon being allowed to play this week? I thought the NFL wanted to get more strict with players who go around breaking the law. Blackmon was caught driving with a blood alcohol level 3-times the legal limit! That’s like attempted murder/suicide.

    Why is it that our society forgets about dangerous drinkers in a week, but if a person is even insinuated to have a connection to marijuana, they’re labeled for life?

    This isn’t even Blackmon’s first offense. He was arrested for DUI back in 2010 too. He’s a repeat offender, but the NFL is still saying “let’s give him one more shot before we react to this.”

  8. By Spoiler Alert on Sep 6, 2012 | Reply

    I just read something interesting. Chris Kluwe is a Deadspin contributor. Remember Favre and his little texting issue? If I remember right, it was Deadspin who reported it first. I also remember that the contributor was un-named and there was some real mystery to who it was. Kluwe, as good a punter that he is, has opened his mouth a time or two when he should have kept it shut. Anyone else putting two and two together?? Could he have has something to do with it?

  9. By Parody on Sep 6, 2012 | Reply

    Yes…because Favre sent the picture to a hot masseuse that he wanted to get freaky with AND to Kluwe.

  10. By JE on Sep 6, 2012 | Reply

    Spoiler alert, Who Cares?? Brett Farve is so yesteryear. Lets talk about this team and keep it to football.

  11. By RichardA1 on Sep 6, 2012 | Reply

    We will see the great coaching skills the Vikes coachs have & how the players old and new have bonded to form a powerful powerful machine! no penalties, turn overs, just the Vikings playing beyond every one’s expectations, a dream come true!

  12. By JE on Sep 6, 2012 | Reply

    We really need to win this game and get the season off to a good start.Hopefully we can put some points on the board and the defense can create a couple of TOs. Home openers are really important to win.Good luck and SKOL VIKINGS!!

  13. By rogerthevikefan on Sep 6, 2012 | Reply

    Blackmon has a injured ankle and at the least will be slowed a bit.

  14. By rogerthevikefan on Sep 6, 2012 | Reply

    Jags are running a quick release p@ssing offense because Gabbert CR@PS himself if he sees shadows of large men. So the Jags should only have short gains and if everyone tackles they will not amount to much.

  15. By rogerthevikefan on Sep 6, 2012 | Reply

    Jags have a good D but as long as the p@ss protection holds up Ponder should have a very good game.

  16. By rogerthevikefan on Sep 6, 2012 | Reply

    Ponder’s stats 20-30 250 yards 2 TDs.
    AP will have 10 carries 75 yards and a TD.
    Gerhart will run 20 times for 115 yards.
    Harvin 8 catches 125 yards and a TD.
    Rudolph 5 catches 75 yards and a TD.
    7 catches by an @ssortment of others for 50 yards.
    The D will also create a turnover for a TD. Not sure if its a pick 6 or Fumble Recovery.
    End score: Vikings 28- Jags 10

  17. By helen on Sep 6, 2012 | Reply


  18. By vikingbob136 on Sep 6, 2012 | Reply

    I can see that Claiborne can play(Cowboys).
    Let’s hope Kalil has the same impact Claiborne had last night.
    Stop with all the predictions. It’s so silly.Just watch the game and root your butt off!

  19. By QB on Sep 6, 2012 | Reply

    Man, for the first time in along time I really don’t know how good or bad we are gonna be. I’m hoping for a 9-7 season. Nothing is worse as we know, than being out of the playoff hunt by mid season. I’m hoping for a good start, and I’m glad we have a lot of new younger faces. Last year I really felt after to first 6 ballgames we had a serious confidence problem. Having the lead in so many of those games only to fall apart in the second half was tough. Once you lose those types of games, it messes with your brain, and you start playing not to lose, instead of being aggressive. Good Luck Vikes in 2012!!!

  20. By wyonorseman on Sep 7, 2012 | Reply

    I predict Vikings win 8 of the first ten games and end up 11 and 5. The early schedule has a lot of games we should win. Our young players will improve as the season goes and our team should jell together. As always the main thing is to stay healthy.

  21. By jerry on Sep 7, 2012 | Reply

    I am a Vikings fan but seriously I wish they could have a descent season, but I don’t think they will do good this year I look for them maybe to win 2-3 games if that. A team starts with a QB and they really don’t have a good QB, Ponder isn’t anything.

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