The 2012 NFL Draft is still well over a month away, but now that the combine is over, predictions will become easier as prospects begin to separate themselves from their competition.
The Minnesota Vikings will come into the draft with 10 selections: their first seven picks, likely two additional fourth rounders as compensatory picks and a seventh rounder from the Patriots in the Randy Moss fiasco.
The Vikings have a lot of holes to fill in their lineup and likely won't be vying for a playoff spot anytime soon, but with a deep draft they'll be able to start closing the gap in their division a bit.
Here's a look at my predictions for the draft up to this point. Remember that this will likely change quite drastically after pro days and free agency occurs.
OT Matt Kalil, USC
This is the worst kept secret in the 2012 draft.
The Vikings will insist that they're looking to trade down and accumulate picks, but once the Rams trade down and Robert Griffin III goes No. 2 overall, they'll have no choice but to take Kalil.
That's not a bad thing either; Kalil is the best non-QB prospect in the class and has elite tackle written all over him.
The Vikings have to shore up their offensive line and Kalil could be an anchor for the next 10 years.
Other Possibility: WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State—This would be surprising, but I could still see it happening. The team does need a top wideout as well, but they could address that in free agency.
CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama
Despite originally being considered a top 10 prospect, Kirkpatrick's stock has plummeted because of alleged character issues and a weak showing at the combine.
Should Kirkpatrick slip out of the first round, which could be a stretch, he would have tremendous value for the Vikings as both a corner and possibly as a safety.
Like I said, this could be a stretch, but with all of the WRs that could slip into the first round, it wouldn't be unheard of to see Kirkpatrick slide a bit.
Other Possibilities: CB Chase Minnifield, DT Devon Still, WR Brian Quick
DT Alameda Ta'amu, Washington
Remi Ayodele is not cutting it opposite DT Kevin Williams. The Vikings will also likely lose Letroy Guion to free agency, which means they'll need to go DT at some point in the first four rounds.
Ta'amu is very raw, but he has solid speed and is very powerful. He needs some coaching, but with the Vikings bringing back Brendan Daly to coach the defensive line, they could be able to return to their run-stuffing days of the not-so-distant past.
Other Possibilities: WR Tommy Streeter, Miami
ILB Mychal Kendricks, California
The Vikings will likely let E.J. Henderson walk in free agency, but I'm not so sure Jasper Brinkley will be able to handle a ton of playing time because of his history of injury.
Mychal Kendricks was one of the combine's workout-warriors and will probably see his stock rise because of it.
Kendricks is relatively undersized for a ILB at 5'11" but his 39.5" vertical jump and 4.38 40 time at the combine could make him a nice candidate to play the MLB in the Tampa-two system—a key position for the Vikings.
RB LaMichael James, Oregon
My opinion of LaMichael James has changed several times in the past few months, but I've wanted him in purple the entire time.
At first I saw him as a Darren Sproles-like RB. Then I thought of a 2009 Chester Taylor. Now I see him as a Dexter McCluster-type guy.
James is undersized to be an every-down back, but he would make a nice change-of-pace back for the Vikings.
They'll need to address their hole at RB at some point this offseason. Obviously Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart have it pretty much locked down, but if for some reason injuries keep them both from starting the season, James could be a short-term solution—and a crowd-pleaser.
CB Josh Robinson, UCF
If the Vikings are able to get Kirkpatrick in the second round, they'll still likely take another DB at some point in the draft.
UCF's Josh Robinson isn't the most technically sound corner in the draft class, but he's got ideal size and athleticism to add some nice depth to the Vikings pitiful secondary.
Robinson measures at 5'10" and 192 lbs. His 38.5" vertical jump was the second best at the combine, and his 4.52 40-yard dash wasn't too shabby either.
If the Vikings get Kirkpatrick, they'll probably move him to safety because of his size. Adding Robinson to help bolster the secondary would be a great value pick at this point in the draft.
OG Ryan Miller, Colorado
The Vikings already addressed their LT position by taking Kalil in the first round, but with cuts likely coming for Steve Hutchinson and Anthony Herrera, they'll need to add some depth to the interior of their offensive line.
Ryan Miller will likely be available at this point in the draft. He had a pretty decent combine, but is coming off an injury which will hurt his stock.
Miller will make a decent backup, or at least a body in training camp.
WR Devon Wylie, Fresno State
I know what you're thinking: this is the first WR we take? I see the Vikings addressing their need at WR in free agency, and going with a BPA strategy for most of the draft.
At 5'9" and 187lbs., Devon Wylie is practically a high school receiver. However, because of his impressive showing at the combine, especially in the actual receiver drills, I see Wylie as potentially becoming somewhat of a poor-man's Wes Welker.
Wylie ran a 4.3-flat 40 and repped 225lbs. Seventeen times—pretty impressive considering that's 37lbs. heavier than he is. He could potentially battle for a spot at WR, but would lock down the KR/PR role if he's drafted by the Vikings.
OLB Tank Carder, TCU
With the potential of losing Erin Henderson to free agency, the Vikings will need to add some depth not just to their linebacker corps, but for special teams as well.
Tank Carder was by no means a workout-warrior at the combine, in fact he didn't do very well at all. But at this point in the draft, his size alone could get him drafted.
QB Case Keenum, Houston
The Vikings could lose Sage Rosenfels to free agency this offseason. Whether you see that as a good thing or not, that leaves an open spot on the depth chart in the most important position in the game.
Case Keenum isn't a top QB prospect in any respect, but he'd look good holding a clip board for the Vikings.
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