An interesting look at the number of snaps played by rookies in the NFC North comes to us from ESPN NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert this morning.
According to Seifert, the Minnesota Vikings' rookie class has played more snaps this season through the first six games than all but one team in the National Football League. The only team that has a 2012 draft class with more snaps that the 1,163 played by Minnesota's rookies thus far is the Cleveland Browns.
Seifert says that there are a couple of different ways to interpret this.
Using draft picks from the start can be a compliment to the decisions made or an indictment of the preceding talent base. Generally speaking, however, I think the Vikings should feel good about starting 4-2 with rookies playing so many prominent roles.
In this case. . .and, yes, I'm admittedly biased. . .I would think that it would lean much more towards that second part than the first part. Yes, the Vikings were a bit talent-starved before this year's draft took place. However, they've hit solidly on a lot of their picks from this past draft. Matt Kalil has played every offensive snap for the Vikings this year at left tackle, and performed very well in doing so. Harrison Smith has played the majority of the snaps at safety (save for the game he got ejected in the second quarter), Josh Robinson is now a regular part of the rotation at corner, and Rhett Ellison is getting some snaps at tight end. Heck, Ellison might even be outperforming the much higher-priced John Carlson at this point.
And, as Seifert points out, that doesn't include The Blair Walsh Project™, who has quickly turned into one of the NFL's better kickers, going 16-of-17 through the first six games of his rookie season.
With few teams in the NFL that are as young as the Minnesota Vikings, it's starting to look more and more like the 2012 Draft has given them a very solid foundation to build upon going forward.