Usually, a choice for Rookie of the Year for a National Football League team is fairly cut-and-dried. A team will generally have one guy that gets on the team straight out of college and immediately makes an impact for his new club.
In the case of the Minnesota Vikings, however. . .the choice appears to be a little tougher.
We've mentioned recently that Rick Spielman did a great job with the rookie class of 2012. Eight of the ten players drafted are currently on the roster, and most of them have made significant impacts this season. However, in my opinion, three of them stand out above all the others. I'm sure you know who they all are, but let's put them out here anyway.
Matt Kalil - The Minnesota Vikings' outstanding 2012 Draft kicked off with them getting an extra fourth-round pick and extra sixth-round pick from the Cleveland Browns so that they could move down one spot. . .and get the guy they wanted all along anyway. It was clear that the Vikings wanted Matt Kalil to come in and anchor what had been an abysmal offensive line in 2011, and while big things were expected of him, I doubt that anyone expected him to step in and be this good this soon. He led all NFC tackles in this year's Pro Bowl balloting, and really. . .who are the five tackles in the National Football League that you look at and say, "Yeah, I'd definitely rather have him than Matt Kalil right now?" I'd have a hard time getting to that many tackles, and I simply don't think there are that many.
Harrison Smith - People questioned the decision of the Vikings to give up their second-round selection, the 35th overall pick, to move up six spots and get back into the first round to select Smith, the consensus #2 safety in the class of 2012 behind Alabama's Mark Barron (who went #7 overall). It's turned out to be a very nice selection, however, as the rookie from Notre Dame has spearheaded what has been a vastly improved Vikings' secondary. He's made several big plays, including one from yesterday's win over the Houston Texans that saw him stop wide receiver Kevin Walter just short of the goal line. The Vikings held the Texans to a field goal, and Houston never seriously threatened after that. Smith also threw in a sack and a forced fumble, and nearly had an interception. Smith is the Vikings' third-leading tackler on the season, has 11 passes defended and 3 interceptions on the year, two of which have gone back for touchdowns.
Blair Walsh - Seriously, what more do we have to say about this guy that hasn't already been said? Yesterday, he hit three more field goals, making him 32 for 35 on the season for field goal attempts. More amazingly, he broke the National Football League record yesterday with his ninth field goal of the season from 50 yards or more, blasting a 56-yarder that looked like it would have been good from at least ten yards further out. He also has 49 touchbacks in his 79 kickoffs this season, and of the 30 that have been returned, opponents are only averaging 23.6 yards per return. If he isn't already the best kicker in the National Football League. the list of guys that are better than he is has to be very, very short.
Other rookies have made an impact this season as well, but I think we can all agree that those are the big three. So, ladies and gentlemen of the Daily Norseman community, I leave the vote and the discussion on this matter up to you. Have at it!