Greg Smith-US PRESSWIRE
The Minnesota Vikings had ten selections in the 2012 NFL Draft. They broke camp with eight of those ten players on the 53-man roster, with receiver Greg Childs having gone on injured reserve after tearing both patella tendons in a training camp scrimmage and defensive lineman Trevor Guyton not making the team.
Linebacker Audie Cole has been active a few times on special teams, but hasn't contributed much outside of his two-pick-sixes-in-thirty-seconds performance in the pre-season. The other seven picks, however, have all made significant contributions to the Vikings being in playoff contention with three weeks left in the season, just one year after a 3-13 disaster.
We've raved on about offensive tackle Matt Kalil a lot, so we don't need to go on about him in this space. Near the end of the draft's first day, the Vikings moved back into the first round and used the 29th overall pick to acquire safety Harrison Smith. Smith has been a big contributor to the Vikings' much-improved pass defense this season, snagging three interceptions and returning two of them for touchdowns.
With the Vikings not having a second-round pick due to the aforementioned trade, they waited until the top of the third round to select cornerback Josh Robinson. Robinson has two interceptions this season, one of which probably should have gone back for a score, and has shown everything you want to see out of a player that appears to have a future as a slot cornerback in the NFL.
With their three fourth-round picks, the Vikings took Arkansas wide receiver Jarius Wright, Southern California tight end Rhett Ellison, and Childs, who was Wright's teammate at Arkansas. Wright has shown some promise since he was finally able to get onto the field, and Ellison has drawn praise for his blocking abilities this season. . .because, hey, if they're going to give you Jim Kleinsasser's old number, you'd damn well better be able to block.
In the fifth round, the Vikings took Notre Dame defensive back Robert Blanton. Blanton hasn't seen much time on the field defensively, but has been a pretty solid special teamer. And, of course, there's been rookie kicker Blair Walsh, the team's sixth-round selection out of the University of Georgia. He's been one of the league's better kickers this season, setting a team record for touchbacks and hitting on 24 of 27 field goal attempts.
EDIT: Not to mention (as was pointed out to me by the folks from the Vikings Fan Page on Twitter) that Spielman acquired two extra picks in the 2013 NFL Draft. . .a fourth-rounder from the Detroit Lions and a sixth-rounder from the Tennessee Titans. I assume that one of the Vikings' two sixth-round picks is going to the Arizona Cardinals in the trade that brought A.J. Jefferson to the Vikings, but I don't think we've found out yet either way.
Rick Spielman has taken a lot of grief recently because of how the Vikings have handled their quarterback situation, with the thought being that Christian Ponder is "Spielman's guy" and that sort of thing. However, it's pretty hard to deny. . .at least at this point. . .that Spielman did a hell of a job with the Vikings' rookie class of 2012. Now, he just has to do it again in 2013. And 2014. And so on.