The NFL recently released the full draft order including the compensatory picks for the 2012 NFL Draft. The Minnesota Vikings were awarded two fourth-round selections due to their losses of WR Sidney Rice, DE Ray Edwards, LB Ben Leber and QB Tarvaris Jackson.
I've been including these two compensatory picks in all of my previous mock drafts, but they were just assumptions without official word. Now that the pick order is official, it will be easier to project the 10 picks the Vikings have in the draft this year.
Here is my latest 7-round mock for the Vikings.
Player: Matt Kalil
Position: Offensive Tackle
Height/Weight: 6'7" - 295 lbs.
All of the rumors about the Minnesota Vikings potentially taking CB Morris Claiborne are just Rick Speilman's way of messing with all of the other teams and trying to scare them into trading up. There is no way the Vikings take anyone other than Matt Kalil with their first round pick—that is, unless someone actually does bite on Speilman's bluff.
After drafting their QB of the future in Christian Ponder in 2011, the Vikings need to fortify their offensive line and give Ponder the protection he needs to actually get the ball to his receivers.
Matt Kalil could end up being a cornerstone on the Vikings offensive line for the next decade.
You just don't pass on a player like that.
Player: Alshon Jeffery
Position: Wide Receiver
School: South Carolina
Height/Weight: 6'3" - 213 lbs.
Alshon Jeffery has answered plenty of criticism this draft season by not only shedding plenty of weight, but by running a 4.45 40-yard dash at his pro day.
Though he has shown the ability to be a top WR prospect, his "inability to create separation" has experts like Mike Mayock hesitant to touch him in the first round. Fortunately for the Vikings, this could end up with Jeffery falling to them at the No. 35 pick.
Jeffery would be a day one starter for the Vikings, and his size would complement the compact, speedy Percy Harvin very nicely. The pair would help to balance out the passing attack for the Vikings and actually give Ponder a new target after shoring up the offensive line in the first round with Matt Kalil.
Player: Zebrie Sanders
Position: Right Tackle
School: Florida State
Height/Weight: 6'6" - 320 lbs.
With DBs like Harrison Smith, Janoris Jenkins and Dre Kirkpatrick almost certainly off the board at this point, the Vikings face a difficult decision. They could choose to grab Oregon star RB LaMichael James, but that might be a bit of a reach in the third round. They could go defensive line or linebacker, but then again, why not beef up the offensive line.
Zebrie Sanders could have been one of the top RT prospects in the class had it not been for a nagging injury. With Phil Loadholt playing some extremely uninspired football over the last couple of seasons, the Vikings could accomplish either of two things by selecting Sanders here: light a fire under Loadholt, or create some competition in camp and potentially find a new starter to form a completely bolstered offensive line.
Games in the NFL are won in the trenches. You can talk all you want about how much help the secondary needs, or how the Vikings need a new receiver. I don't know about you guys, but I sure am sick of Clay Matthews sacking Vikings QBs, and improving the right side of the line would help that cause.
Player: Antonio Allen
Position: Strong Safety
School: South Carolina
Height/Weight: 6'2" - 202 lbs.
It's about time the Vikings select a defensive back. It looks like the Vikings still might try to re-sign Husain Abdullah to play free safety in 2012, but the strong side is still a liability with Jamarca Sanford starting—and that's not a knock against Sanford necessarily, he's a great special teams player, but just is not suited to start.
Despite converting from linebacker to strong safety, Antonio Allen had an impressive showing at the Senior Bowl and is not touted as one of the class' top SS prospects.
The Vikings need to create some competition on the back end of their defense. Letting Allen compete with Sanford and Mistral Raymond for a starting role could be a good thing for this defense—especially when the new defensive coordinator specializes in the secondary.
Player: DeVier Posey
Position: Wide Receiver
School: Ohio State
Height/Weight: 6'2" - 211 lbs.
After grabbing Alshon Jeffery in the second round, the Vikings bounce back to WRs and grab DeVier Posey with their first compensatory pick.
The Vikings did re-sign Devin Aromashodu to a minimum contract and will get Michael Jenkins back from injury, but their receiver corps as a whole needs some work. Posey has prototypical size for an outside receiver and is praised for his run-blocking and excellent hands. Though he is also touted as an excellent route runner, he disappears over the middle of the field, which is the reason for his low draft grade—well that and his suspension for improper benefits.
Posey's issues off the field shouldn't translate to any kind of problem at the NFL level, and his issues on the field can definitely be coached. Posey has great upside, especially with how well he blocks in the run game.
Player: Marcus Forston
Position: Defensive Tackle
School: Miami (FL)
Height/Weight: 6'1" - 301 lbs.
The interior of the Vikings defensive line did not play up to its potential in 2011. In a move that relieved all Vikings fans, Remi Ayodele was released a few weeks ago. This left the Vikings with the need to re-sign Letroy Guion and Fred Evans who both are great depth players, but I question their ability as starters.
Marcus Forston doesn't necessarily fit the mold of a starter either, but he would make for some decent competition in camp and could clog up the middle when he is on the field.
Forston is the best defensive tackle available at this point in the draft and the team must fortify their trench players on both sides of the ball.
Player: Terrell Manning
Position: Outside Linebacker
School: North Carolina State
Height/Weight: 6'2" - 237 lbs.
The Vikings have a giant hole in the middle of their defense right now. My guess is that their disinterest in re-signing E.J. Henderson comes from a possibility of recently re-signed Erin Henderson sliding into the middle--or some pretty big confidence in Jasper Brinkley, who is returning from hip surgery. Regardless of if that hunch comes true or not, the Vikings lost depth in their linebacker corps in E.J. and in Kenny Onatolu.
Onatolu was a special teams stud, and while the Vikings may have found his replacement in former CFL LB Solomon Elimimian, they need to pick up some more linebackers.
Manning isn't necessarily a standout in his draft class, but he will come in and compete. If at very least he becomes a solid special teams player, this pick will not be wasted.
Player: Chris Gallipo
Position: Inside Linebacker
Height/Weight: 6'1" - 241 lbs.
I thought about going cornerback here, but the fact that the Vikings have already signed Chris Carr and Zachary Bowman this offseason tells me that it might not be that big of a draft priority to them. With Chris Cook returning to the active roster after his acquittal of strangulation charges and Antoine Winfield returning from injury, they will have their top corners and a slew of guys to compete for the remaining roster spots.
Like I noted on the previous slide, the Vikings are very shallow at linebacker—particularly on the inside. Jasper Brinkley could very well end up being the starter—and I would be okay with that—but they need to find a backup to Brinkley through the draft.
Gallipo isn't a flashy pick, but he's the type of guy that LBs coach Fred Pagac could develop into a decent role player.
Player: Case Keenum
Height/Weight: 6'2" - 210 lbs.
At this point, the Vikings are pretty set for depth at QB, but that could change very soon. I think it's safe to say that Christian Ponder is the undisputed starter, but Joe Webb's untapped potential could have another team calling soon.
The Vikings just re-signed Sage Rosenfels to ensure a veteran presence in the QB depth chart, but another clip-board holder in the 7th round may not be such a bad thing.
Keenum had an incredible college career at Houston, but because his offense was so spread-heavy, he's not seen as much of an NFL prospect. On the other hand, you take a prototypical sized QB and put him on the practice squad for a year, you might be surprised at what other teams overlook.
I'm not saying Keenum will ever be successful at the NFL level, but a seventh-round pick for a guy that might provide some decent depth couldn't be all bad.
Player: Ron Brooks
Height/Weight: 5'10" - 190 lbs.
In the interest of competition in the secondary, I thought a guy from Cornerback-U could come into camp and fight for a roster spot.
Even the practice squad could be a long shot for a guy like Brooks who didn't really impress at the combine or on the field, but with the right coaching, who knows?
This is a low-risk pick. If Brooks doesn't pan out, no harm done. If he does, cool beans.
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