Matt Kalil. He's tall. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
For weeks leading up to the 2012 National Football League Draft, Minnesota Vikings' GM Rick Spielman made it known to anybody that wanted to listen that the third overall pick was available for anyone that wanted to move up to the spot. He put out smokescreens saying that the Vikings were interested in LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. . .or was it Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon? He made overtures to the Minnesota media that left tackles weren't "game changers," and ran all kinds of other misdirection.
About 45 minutes before the draft got underway, somebody finally bit. And it started what, in this writer's opinion, was a pretty darn good night for the Beloved Purple.
The Vikings convinced the Cleveland Browns that they were serious enough about making a deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the Bucs to select Alabama running back Trent Richardson that the Browns decided they needed to make their own deal to secure Richardson's services. The Browns gave up a fourth-round choice (#118 overall, a pick they received in last year's blockbuster with the Atlanta Falcons), a fifth-round pick (#139 overall), and a seventh-round pick (#211 overall) to move up one spot.
After that, the Vikings took the guy that they, quite frankly, should have been targeting all along anyway.
Minnesota selected USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil, a guy that said that he could really envision himself being in Minnesota after the time he spent with the Vikings. When he met with the team a few weeks ago, he told them that if the Vikings took him, they wouldn't have to worry about a left offensive tackle for the next decade, and apparently the Vikings agreed. His acquisition will officially put Charlie Johnson into the left guard spot vacated with Steve Hutchinson's release. . .something you knew if you listened to Eric's audio from Rick Spielman's press conferenceafter the pick. . .and solidify two spots on a Minnesota offensive line that was overmatched for the majority of last season. I said for weeks that Matt Kalil was really the "duh" pick for the Vikings, and I'm happy that the team not only made the correct decision, but did so while acquiring three more selections.
The trade gave the Vikings thirteen total picks, and they used some of that ammunition to move back into the first round at number 29 overall. In order to make that jump, they sent the Baltimore Ravens the #35 and #98 overall selections. The Vikings took Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith with that selection, as they try to solidify another unit that was disastrous in 2011, the defensive secondary. Smith projects as more of an "in the box" type of safety at this point, as he's willing to come up in run support and in generally a very sure tackler. However, he has shown enough athleticism to be able to be solid in coverage as well. The pick was a bit of a surprise. . .I thought the Vikings would go with a receiver like Stephen Hill after they jumped back into the first round. . .but Smith is a pretty solid pick and should be able to immediately contribute.
All in all, it seems that the Vikings have a very productive first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. After the trade to get back into the first round, they
don't have aren't scheduled to have a pick until the third round, #66 overall. As it stands now, here are the picks the Minnesota Vikings have remaining:
Round 3, Pick 3 (#66 overall)
Round 4, Pick 23 (#118 overall) - from Atlanta Falcons via Cleveland Browns in Thursday's trade
Round 4, Pick 33 (#128 overall) - Compensatory selection, can not be traded
Round 4, Pick 39 (#134 overall) - Compensatory selection, can not be traded
Round 5, Pick 3 (#138 overall)
Round 5, Pick 4 (#139 overall) - from Cleveland Browns in Thursday's trade
Round 6, Pick 5 (#175 overall) - from Cleveland Browns in Jayme Mitchell trade
Round 7, Pick 3 (#210 overall)
Round 7, Pick 4 (#211 overall) - from Cleveland Browns in Thursday's trade
Round 7, Pick 16 (#223 overall) - from Philadelphia Eagles via New England Patriots in Randy Moss trade
Yes, that's ten more picks for the Vikings to add to their roster, and we will have coverage of every single one of them for you right here at The Daily Norseman.