ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper, Jr., has gone through and re-evaluated his grades for each of the 32 NFL teams from the 2012 NFL Draft. Turns out you can make a more accurate assessment of a draft after the players have actually been on the field for a season. Imagine that.
Anyway, Kiper rated the Minnesota Vikings' draft as a B+ this spring, and after seeing the players in action, he likes the picks even more, bumping the grade up to an A-. Here's what he had to say about the Vikings' draft class of 2012.
After the draft I wrote, "The Vikings did pretty well. They got the left tackle they coveted in Matt Kalil, and they moved up to get a safety. Both Kalil and Harrison Smith, their two first-round picks, should be starting in Week 1. Josh Robinson adds speed, if not a lot of polish, at corner, and has the chance to develop into a good player." I'd say that sums up how I feel today, but the grade has to go up based on performance. Kalil not only started 16 games at left tackle, played well at a significant position and if his run-blocking catches up with his pass-blocking, he'll become among the league's best. Smith became exactly what the Vikings had hoped, started all 16 games at free safety and should be there for years to come. The instincts he showed at Notre Dame were on display, and he'll continue to get better. Robinson is raw, but could ultimately take over for Antoine Winfield. And don't overlook one of the steals of the draft. Blair Walsh was taken at No. 175 overall, and was the best kicker in the league in 2012. A year later, a pretty good draft looks even better.
The best part about it is that this draft class has the potential to get even better. Guys like Kalil and Smith have really only scratched the surface of their potential, and could be potential centerpieces for this team in the years to come.
The Vikings' draft class of 2012 is already one of the best I can recall in my years as a fan of this team. Hopefully they will continue to grow and contribute even more to the team going forward.