The Vikings enter the 2012 season having selected 10 rookies in last Spring’s Draft. They picked 4th overall (after trading down 1 spot from 3) to select Offensive Tackle Prodigy, Matt Kalil. Kalil is the highest selection the Vikings have had in years. In fact, it was 1985, when they last selected that high, taking Chris Dolman, 4th overall. Thus far, the Viking 2012 Draft looks pretty good, but they say a draft class should go 2 full seasons before getting a fair evaluation, so I am going to do that. I will analyze the 2010 draft, as well as take a look at the progress from our 2011 and 2012 drafts so far. I will select star, steal and bust from each class. Obviously, because the 2011 and 2012 classes are still fresh, they will be based mostly on personal opinion and preseason results.
It is a bit of a long read, but I hope you enjoy.
Round 2 Pck. 34 Chris Cook CB Virginia
Round 2 Pck. 51 Toby Gerhart HB Stanford
Round 4 Pck. 100 Everson Griffen DE USC
Round 5 Pck. 161 Chris DeGeare OL Wake Forest
Round 5 Pck. 167 Nate Triplett LB Minnesota
Round 6 Pck. 199 Joe Webb QB UAB
Round 7 Pck. 214 Mickey Shuler TE Penn State
Round 7 Pck. 237 Ryan D’Imperio FB Rutgers
The Vikings started things off by trading out of the 1st round for more picks. They moved down to pick 34 and took Chris Cook. The Vikings also puzzled many, by trading back into the 2nd round and selecting Toby Gerhart, despite already having Adrian Peterson. When all was said and done, the Vikings’ 2010 draft was met with criticism. Let’s see how things stand 2 years after the fact.
First off, 4 of the 8 selections made are still on the active roster (Cook, Gerhart, Griffen and Webb), but 3 others were on the preseason roster this year (DeGeare, Shuler and D’Imperio), leaving only Triplett as the only selection who did not maintain affiliation with the Vikings up to this season (he was cut during the 2010 preseason). So, all in all, 50% of our 2010 picks remain on the squad, which 2 years after the initial selections, is not abnormal, though could be better. Let’s take a closer look at the 4 remaining players.
Of the 4, only Cook has worked his way into a starting role. Gerhart has seen several starts as well, but all have been in relief for an injured Adrian Peterson. Gerhart’s contributions, however, have been noteworthy, as he has allowed us to maintain a strong run attack even when AP is out. Though it was deemed a questionable pick when we first selected him, Gerhart has been a good pick thus far. It was known that Everson Griffen had potential when we selected him, but he was selected on to a team that already had Jared Allen, Ray Edwards and Brian Robison. With larger needs at the time, Griffen seemed to be another questionable selection. To this point, Griffen has shown great potential, despite seeing limited action behind Allen and Robison. Perhaps the biggest advantage that Griffen gives us is the flexibility to trade a DE away for another need at some point. Finally, Joe Webb was an interesting selection to say the least. He came into UAB as a receiver, but was quickly converted to QB. The Vikings drafted him with the intent to develop him as WR, but after a session of throwing, they changed their mind and decided to keep him as a QB. His QB play has been inconsistent and he seems to play better when allowed to use his speed and athleticism to move the ball on the ground.
So, 2 years afterwards, I have to say, the Vikings didn’t do too bad here. Certainly the opportunity to select better positional needs existed, but if you are going to stray from the path, at least select talented players, and, for the most part, that is what they did.
The Star: Toby Gerhart – Has been a solid runner with limited opportunities.
The Steal: Everson Griffen – Has shown great pass rush ability and a high motor.
The Bust: Chris DeGeare – Flashed potential in rookie year, but fizzled out and didn’t keep in shape.
Round 1 Pck. 12 Christian Ponder QB FSU
Round 2 Pck. 43 Kyle Rudolph TE Notre Dame
Round 4 Pck. 106 Christian Ballard DT Iowa
Round 5 Pck. 139 Brandon Burton CB Utah
Round 6 Pck. 168 DeMarcus Love OL Arkansas
Round 6 Pck. 170 Mistral Raymond S USF
Round 6 Pck. 172 Brandon Fusco OL Slippery Rock
Round 6 Pck. 200 Ross Homan LB Ohio State
Round 7 Pck. 215 D’Aundre Reed DE Arizona
Round 7 Pck. 236 Stephen Burton WR W. Texas A&M
The Vikings dropped the shock of the first round by taking Christian Ponder, 12th overall. It is believed that the team began to realize that it would not be able to acquire Jake Locker or Blaine Gabbert, and thus panicked, and in that panic, went to the next QB on their board, Ponder, even though he was rated a second round pick. The Vikings followed things up in the 2nd round with Notre Dame TE, Kyle Rudolph. 8 other selections followed those 2. All in all, 10 players were taken, and of those 10, 8 are still on the active roster and 1 other still under contract, but on IR (Love). Perhaps even more impressive is that 4 have worked their way into the starting line-up (Ponder, Rudolph, Raymond, Fusco). The only player not still with the team is LB, Ross Homan, who after being cut by the Vikings, spent some time with Tampa Bay and retired due to concussion issues. I don’t want to dig to deep into the progress of this class because, as I said earlier, it should really take about 2 seasons to know, but I think there are a few things to note.
4th rounder, Ballard has slowly developed at DT, after putting on some weight. Love, Reed and both Burtons have not exactly stood out by any stretch, but none have done anything to be deemed a bust at this point.
The Star: Kyle Rudolph – The jury is still out on Ponder, but it is clear that Rudolph is the real deal.
The Steal: Brandon Fusco – The D2 kid earned a solid reputation as a rookie and bulldozed his way to the starting line-up. (Honorable mention - Mistral Raymond)
The Bust: Brandon Burton - Last year, more than ever, we needed a corner to step up. Burton still has time to deliver, but he leaves much to be desired.
Round 1 Pck. 4 Matt Kalil OT USC
Round 1 Pck. 29 Harrison Smith S Notre Dame
Round 3 Pck. 66 Josh Robinson CB UCF
Round 4 Pck. 118 Jarius Wright WR Arkansas
Round 4 Pck. 128 Rhett Ellison TE USC
Round 4 Pck. 134 Greg Childs WR Arkansas
Round 5 Pck. 139 Robert Blanton DB Notre Dame
Round 6 Pck. 175 Blair Walsh K Georgia
Round 7 Pck. 210 Audie Cole LB N.C. State
Round 7 Pck. 219 Trevor Guyton DL Cal
After a dismal 2011 season, the big decision coming in to the draft was which need to fill right away. After pulling off a masterful trade, that I am pretty sure involved some sort of wizardry on Rick Spielman’s part, we traded down 1 spot and grabbed the big OT from USC, Matt Kalil. We then followed that up by trading back into round 1 and grabbing a safety. Again, this year, we took 10 rookies from the draft. After the preseason cuts, all but one (Guyton) remain under Viking contract, with 1 on IR (Childs). Of the 8 active, 3 are already starting (Kalil, Smith and Walsh). Also, Josh Robinson is seeing significant time right away, in Nickel package. The class is still fresh out of college, and only has one regular season game under their belts, but some things are already looking good in this class. We are finding that Wright has return skills, Ellison can block and has not disgraced Jersey #40 yet, Walsh has clutch kicking skills, and Audie Cole may be a future star.
The Star: Matt Kalil – Has been solid for a rookie blocker and showed his versatility on special teams with a blocked PAT.
The Steal: Audie Cole – Had an amazing preseason and will likely have a shot in the big show before season’s end. (Honorable Mention - Blair Walsh)
The Bust: Greg Childs – Though not his fault, it appears as if Childs will not develop into the star he could have been.