The first round of the 2012 NFL Draft has been mapped out. Now let’s take a look at what our Minnesota Vikings will be doing in the later rounds as well.
Needs: Offensive Tackle, Wide Receiver, Cornerback, Safety, Inside Linebacker
Round 1 Pick 3: Matt Kalil- Left Tackle USC
As I said before, this will be the pick. It seems almost too obvious. Kalil is the third best player in the draft, and the Vikings are picking third. It also happens to be their biggest need. Morris Claiborne would help the secondary, but seeing as how the Vikings already added two cornerbacks in free agency, it doesn’t seem likely that they will go in that direction at #3. Kalil is about as sure a bet as you’re going to get in the draft. He has great footwork and technique as well as long arms. He’s also very athletic which will benefit the run game and screen passes. By having a potential All-Pro at LT, it will give second year quarterback Christian Ponder more time to find his targets as well as open up gaps for Adrian Peterson to burst through.
Round 2 Pick 35: Harrison Smith- Strong Safety Notre Dame
When looking at the positions of need, Smith would give the Vikings the best value at 35.He is extremely talented and has very good instincts. He will be an elite run-stopper and is good at defending the pass. Smith might start out struggling against covering the quicker players, but he has the athleticism and smarts to be able to get around that eventually. Along with Mistral Raymond, Smith should be a starting safety in 2012 and will be a much need addition to arguably the Vikings’ weakest position.
Round 3 Pick 66
I know, I know, it’s Appalachian State, but Quick is a very intriguing talent. He is more fast than quick, despite what his last name might indicate. He also has nice long arms and great hands. He has a HUGE 80 inch wingspan and with good secondary speed and jumping ability, the 6’4″ WR can be a threat downfield or in the end zone. Given the need at WR, Quick probably won’t be the last receiver the Vikings pick up (heck he might not be the first) and he’d be a great addition to a corps that needs more talent. Only time will tell if he’ll be a true #1 receiver in the NFL, but after setting records in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns at App. State, Quick can hopefully bring similar production to the Vikings.
Option 2: Mychal Hendricks- Inside Linebacker California
This is a guy that isn’t getting much attention but whom I think can make an impact. He is small at 5’11” but ran a 4.47, benched 225 pounds 24 times. This along with an explosive 10-7 broad jump makes him an intriguing option at 66, IF he makes it that far. Hendricks was also Pac 12 Defensive Player of the Year. He could easily compete with Jasper Brinkley for the starting MLB gig.
Round 4 Pick 98: Tommy Streeter- Wide Receiver Miami (Fla.)
First, it should be noted that Streeter went to Miami because he wanted to stay close tohome. He could have gone to Oregon or South Carolina. That being said, Streeter only had one good season of football where he caught 46 balls for 811 yards and 8 TDs. He definitely would have helped himself by staying one more year to improve his route running, which is really the only glaring weakness in his game. He’s 6’5” and is also very fast, running a 4.40 at the combine. Because of his height and vertical, he is very capable of make catches in traffic. If wide receivers coach George Stewart can help Streeter work on his routes, he could be a very good option for this team.
Round 4 Pick 128: Chris Rainey- Running Back Florida
Rainey is a fast little devil, running a 4.45 at the combine as well as leading all running backs in the cone and shuttle drills. He also showed his explosiveness with a 120 inch broad jump. Rainey is by no means an every down back in the NFL, but with Minnesota’s group of running backs he wouldn’t need to be. He can come in and contribute on third down passing plays and let his short, quick legs make things happen. Having him and Percy Harvin on the field at the same time could give defensive coordinators trouble, and that’s always a good thing. In the fourth round, Rainey would be an excellent role pickup that would almost certainly earn that 3rd running back slot on the depth chart. He could also be a potential stud in the punt return game, something the Vikings have been looking for for a little while.
Round 4 Pick 134: Chase Minnifield- Cornerback Virginia
I like bloodlines. A lot. Chase Minnifield has good bloodlines, being the son of Frank Minnifield, the former pro bowl-caliber CB for the Browns. This being said, Chase had an awful combine. He ran a 4.65 40 yard dash and only did 7 reps of 225. Strength can be improved with an NFL weight schedule but the speed is a big concern. Before the combine, Minnifield was seen by many as a 3rd round pick. That obviously changed, but it isn’t all bad. Minnifield was #2 in the country with interceptions over his college career (13) and is a very solid tackler, something that has, aside from Antoine Winfield, been completely absent in the Vikings secondary. He has very good instincts, seeming to always be aware of where the ball is whether it’s zone or man coverage, and obviously has solid hands. The Vikings secondary is pretty bad, so with a good strength and conditioning program, he could find himself on the 53-man roster in the fall.
Round 5 Pick 138: Tank Carder- Inside Linebacker TCU
Tank Carder is going to need to bulk up a bit if he wants to be a starting linebacker in the NFL, but he has the speed and quickness to be a great linebacker. He can make plays in coverage and is good at attacking the gaps, two traits that the Vikings are going to need in rebuilding their defense. He takes good angles and is a very aggressive player. I’m not convinced he has the strength and toughness to get through NFL linemen, but again, bulking up could help with that problem. The Vikings will probably have him start with special teams and go from there. Carder is truly an intriguing talent and will make an impact for whatever team that drafts him, whether it be on special teams or in the middle of a defense. Again, he could compete with Jaspar Brinkley for that MLB spot. Competition is always good.
Round 6 Pick 175: Miles Burris- Outside Linebacker San Diego State
Burris is a hard hitter who is always around the ball. A very smart man as well, Burris was the 2010 SDSU Student Athlete of the Year. He is a relentless pass rusher, tallying 8 sacks in 2011, and has said that he can play any scheme. The Vikings could definitely use some improvement in the pass rush department, so expect him to challenge Erin Henderson for the LOLB position.
At this point in the draft, it’s not likely that a starter is to be found. However, Blanton could eventually turn into a role player against an offense such as Green Bay where 4-5 receivers can be on the field at a time. Blanton has good fundamentals and has the size, speed, and toughness to beat blocks and make tackles in the backfield. His pass coverage could use some work as he seems to get called for pass interference a decent amount, but again he has the talent to become a role player and, hopefully one day, a starter.
Ryan Longwell had one of his worst seasons last year and is going to be 38 in August. Carson Wiggs is a very solid kicker, converting nearly 74% of his attempts while at Purdue. He knocked through five 52+ field goals including a 59 yarder, and actually hit a 67 yard field goal in a spring game.