Minnesota Vikings 2012 NFL Draft Review

Matt Kalil

General Manager Rick Spielman picked up a couple of extra Cleveland selections with a one slot trade down in the first round, and then drafted Matt Kalil, a franchise left tackle at pick four. It’s generally a good marriage when talent meets need and that is exactly what happened with the Kalil selection. The Vikings were in desperate straits to protect last year’s first round quarterback Christian Ponder. The Southern California tackle solidifies the whole line which not only needed an upgrade for pass protection, but run blocking as well for Adrian Peterson. Harrison Smith and Robert Blanton project as two safety upgrades with size and tackling ability. Matt Kalil will start at left tackle while last year’s tackle, Charlie Johnson, has transitioned into left guard. All reports indicate that Kalil picked up blocking schemes well in OTAs. Technically sound and very athletic, he needs to get stronger in the lower body. He is an effortless pass protector who gains position with quickness. He plays with a good base and knee bend in his zone run blocks. He works to sustain and finish with functional play strength and balance. Harrison Smith is tough and very smart in his play. A four year starter in college, two of the years were basically played at linebacker. Always around the ball, he has good body control with sure explosive wrap tackles. A good blitzer, he is athletic, instinctive, and active in his play. He will need work on certain coverage skills and struggles in deep and man coverage. Josh Robinson helps fill a position of need at cornerback. He has fluid hips and the ability to turn and run without hesitation. He has good lateral movement and change of direction, can speed turn and close deep. He has good range and pursuit ability as well as excellent eye/hand coordination. At the Combine he was Ourlads’ top rated corner athletically. Jarius Wright was a record-setting receiver for the Razorbacks in receptions and yards. A small but sudden receiver, he has the route savvy to separate from a defensive back with double moves. In 2011 he led the SEC in catches. Explosive and dangerous in the open field, he concentrates on the ball in a crowd. A competitor, he has body control and good feet. Rhett Ellison will be another weapon for Christian Ponder. A utility player at fullback, tight end, and slot, he was impressive as an athletic and smooth route runner. He is a consistent hand catcher and will be a good check down and flat type receiver. Greg Childs spent the 2011 season basically recovering from a patella tendon tear in his right knee suffered in 2010. He ran a 4.45 forty at his pro day and appears to be back to 100 percent. He will compete at the split end or “X” position with Michael Jenkins. Robert Blanton will get a shot as a big reroute corner in the Vikings’ Cover-2 defensive scheme. He may eventually move inside to safety. Competitive in his play, he is willing to force and contain. He is smart, quick, and reactive in his play. Blair Walsh will try to fill the void with the release of Ryan Longwell. A right-footed soccer style kicker, he is the all-time SEC scorer after being the top recruited kicker in the country four years ago. He played in 53 games at Georgia setting an NCAA record by kicking at least one field goal in 45 games. He struggled as a senior, however, connecting on just 21 of 35 attempts. Walsh averaged 65.4 yards on kickoffs in 2011. Audie Cole adds linebacker depth with experience on the outside as well as on the inside. He has good instincts reacting well downhill. He fits the hole well. Physical in confined quarters, he takes good angles, runs well in pursuit, and is athletic for his size. Trevor Guyton played end in a 3-4 scheme, but projects to be a left run stuffing 4-3 end. Physical in the run game, he has good functional movement and awareness. A good effort player, he plays with power and strength. He has big strong hands and long arms. GRADE: ABOVE AVERAGE.

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