Vikings Appear To Have Had Successful Draft, But Time Will Tell
The 2012 NFL draft is over and now all the experts come out and analyze each and every pick and project whether it was a good draft or not. If you're a Vikings fan, it is great to see that they are receiving overall positive grades on their draft, especially the first round. To me, it's all about trying to fill needs on your team with the best athlete available based on advice of the people you trust in the organization.
The Vikings had needs all over the place, but keeping their young quarterback upright was crucial. Another year of running for his life would hurt his body and his confidence, making it nearly impossible to see exactly what we have in Christian Ponder. Matt Kalil clearly was the best offensive lineman in the draft, and one whose main job is protecting Ponder. Great pick fills a huge need, and they acquired picks from Cleveland somehow in the process. They used those picks to get back into the first round and select defensive back Harrison Smith. The Vikings gave up more touchdown plays of over 10 yards than any other team in the league last year. Harrison Smith will help. Two first round picks, two starters who will help on opening day I believe.
From there, the Vikings added more secondary help with the fastest player in the draft, Josh Robinson. They then rounded out the draft by taking players to add depth on both sides of the ball. One curious pick was the selection of kicker Blair Walsh in the 6th round. Walsh played for the Georgia Bulldogs and some viewed him at the strongest kicker in the draft. A good friend of mine is a major Bulldog fan and said that Walsh can kick it a mile, but his accuracy was very erratic last year. That leads me to believe that for at least a year, Ryan Longwell will handle field goals and Walsh will kickoff. If he lives up to the hype, we may not see a kick return all year.
Overall, I think the Vikings draft was encouraging but only time will tell. I love how experts criticize teams for picks right away. You have to give teams time to show how they are going to use these players before deciding if these players were bust picks or if the franchises lost focus. Who cares if a player is weak at man to man coverage if the team drafting him never plans on putting him in a position to cover man to man? It takes more than drafting good players, it takes a front office and coaching staff working in tandem to find the best athletes for their system. I think both the Vikings and Packers concluded the draft with happy franchises and fans. I don't mean to rush summer, but let's play some football!