May 122012

4. OT Matt Kalil A

I mocked Matt Kalil to the Vikings in my final mock draft because I thought their interest in Morris Claiborne was just a smokescreen to try to get someone to move up. I didn’t think any team would actually be stupid enough to take Claiborne over Kalil in their situation. Looks like I was right. The Vikings made the smart move as it would be incredibly stupid not to give your first round quarterback a fair shot to prove himself and give yourself a fair shot to evaluate him.

The Vikings aren’t going to be very good this year no matter what, but they need to be able to come out of the season knowing whether Ponder is the guy going forward or not because I have a feeling they’ll be in a situation where a top quarterback prospect is available to them next season. They simply couldn’t evaluate him under the circumstances he played in last season. Props to the Vikings for taking the right guy and also props for getting the Browns to trade up for a guy they didn’t need to trade up for.

29. S Harrison Smith A

Another reason why Morris Claiborne didn’t make any sense to the Vikings: the Vikings run a cover 2. The whole point of a cover 2 is to you don’t need elite cornerbacks to run it. Cornerbacks almost always have safety help over the top. Too bad the Vikings’ safeties were absolute shit last season. This safety class falls off a cliff after the top 2 guys so it was very smart of the Vikings to move up and insure they could get Smith, especially since it didn’t cost them any more than what they got from Cleveland to move down from 3 to 4.

66. CB Josh Robinson A

Another reason why Morris Claiborne didn’t make any sense to the Vikings: this was an incredibly deep cornerback class. Robinson was a 2nd round prospect in my book so he’s a solid value at the top of the 3rd.

118. WR Jarius Wright B

In order to help them evaluate Christian Ponder, they needed receiver help. However, Wright was a slight reach by my board and I don’t think he’s an outside receiver at the next level. They already have a slot guy in Percy Harvin.

128. TE Rhett Ellison C+

Ellison is a great football player, but they already have a fullback and they spent a 2nd round pick on a tight end last year and another 25 million on another one this year so I don’t see where Ellison fits. At the very least, he’s going to be a good special teamer, but the Vikings had bigger needs than that in the 4th round.

134. WR Greg Childs A

Childs is more of an outside receiver than his former (and current) teammate Greg Childs. He’s also a better value.

139. CB Robert Blanton B

The Vikings sure do love golden domers: Smith, Blanton, Kyle Rudolph, John Carlson. They did need another defensive back and Blanton can play both safety and cornerback, but this is a little early for him.

175. K Blair Walsh B+

I had Blair Walsh as a draftable kicker and Ryan Longwell is getting up there in age, but he’s also under contract for 3 more years and he was solid last year. I don’t believe in carrying two kickers, so I don’t quite know what they’re doing here.

210. MLB Audie Cole A-

Cole is a great value in the 7th, but he doesn’t cover well. That’s a problem because the Vikings already have a bunch of linebackers who can’t cover and they run a cover 2 scheme that relies on linebackers being able to cover. It’s just a 7th rounder though and he’s a great value at a position of need.

219. DE Trevor Guyton A

Guyton can play inside or outside depending on where they put Christian Ballard and they needed a defensive lineman like that. I had a 5th round grade on Guyton so he’s a great value in the 7th.

I already went into detail why I love the Matt Kalil pick. Same with the Harrison Smith pick and the Josh Robinson pick. I’m not loving the Blair Walsh pick and I don’t think Audie Cole and Jarius Wright were the best fits for their situations at those respective positions, but this was a very strong draft which should make the Vikings a better team in the long term. At least they’ll be able to evaluate Ponder adequately this year and if he doesn’t succeed, they’ll probably have a high pick to replace him and that high pick will have a good left tackle protecting his blindside. They also filled some major holes on defense, especially in the secondary. I think they got at least 3 starters out of this draft.

Grade: A 

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