The Minnesota Vikings will have 10 picks in the upcoming 2012 draft. We are fairly sure that they will use their first-round selection to pick tackle Matt Kalil from USC.
They might decide to go defense, and take LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, but that is a long shot. Probably even longer if you believe he scored just a four on his Wonderlic test.
They need help in the defensive secondary, badly. No other team got burned deep more than the Vikings did last year.
When you look at the list of corners and safeties the Vikings have drafted after the first round in the last decade, they've swung and missed quite a bit.
Here are some potential difference makers the Vikings should consider when using their later-round picks.
Virginia Tech standout Jayron Hosley is a game changer. He led college football with nine interceptions in 2010.
He ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at the combine, and showed great quickness and ball skills. He will need to bulk up to be a star in the NFL, but the basic framework is there.
At 5'11", he has decent height, but he only weighs in at around 180 pounds. NFL receivers can go right through a guy that light, so he needs to hit the weight room right away.
Hosley could start out in nickel packages for the Vikings, and move into a more prominent defensive role as he progresses.
He is also a pretty electric punt returner. Vikings fans should like anything that would help lighten Percy Harvin's load to help him stay healthy in 2012.
Central Florida's Josh Robinson had a fantastic combine. He ran a sub-4.3 40-yard dash. Being that fast is a huge advantage in today's NFL.
Points are at a premium these days, and with speed like Robinson's on the field, you expect him to score whenever he makes a pick. Imagine Percy Harvin playing cornerback. They're built a lot alike, and are both electrically fast.
While Robinson's stock is rising, Minnesota could snag him in the second or possibly the third round. He is a guy they shouldn't pass on if he comes available.
When trying to pick a solid corner later in the draft, one thing that always translates to the next level is size. Norman is 6' tall and around 200 pounds. That stacks up pretty well for an NFL cornerback.
Norman showed some skills during the East-West Shrine Game. He made some spectacular interceptions in practices, and earned a nod to the Senior Bowl.
He runs a 4.56 40-yard dash, so he won't dazzle you with his speed, but he will hinder the Megatrons and Brandon Marshalls of the NFC North in getting downfield.
I'd take a shot with Norman if he is there in the third or fourth round. He is definitely raw, and will need some coaching, but at the very least he should be able to make the roster, something most late-round corners Minnesota has taken in the recent past have not been able to do.
Oklahoma's Jamell Fleming is watching his stock rise after a good performance at the combine. He has the size you want at 5'11", 200 pounds, and he is fairly fast for his size running a 4.4 40-yard dash.
He comes from a big-time program, which is a big plus. The Vikings have become enamored with small-school products for their skill position picks later in the draft, but they rarely work out.
Playing for Oklahoma, Fleming has seen big receivers, and he has seen pro-style offenses. Making the transition to the NFL will be easier for him than most.
He is a ball hawk, and is always around the football. He has big-play ability and can turn his hips to run with most receivers.
He had a few poor performances last season, so he should be available sometime in the fourth round if the Vikings want him.
Coryell Judie hurt his draft stock with his last collegiate season. He missed half the season with injuries, and when he did play, was so-so at best. He showed flashes, but wasn't consistent.
He is 6' and 200 pounds, so the size is there. He is also faster than expected, running a 4.44 40-yard dash.
The Vikings have later round picks to play with, and since they usually throw them away anyhow, why not take a shot on this kid? He admits to having a poor final season, but before this past year, Judie was solid.
That season dropped his stock from a second to third-round pick, to a fifth or sixth-round pick now.
The Vikings need bodies. This is one that can be had for cheap, has the size and speed needed, and had a former cornerback as his head coach. If anyone can coach this kid into an NFL corner, it might be Leslie Frazier.
Overall, the Vikings have made a lot of changes so far. They have let players go, and they have signed a few as well. Nothing too noteworthy—which is exactly why they need to have a strong draft.
In years past, if Minnesota had 10 picks, you'd be almost guaranteed they would have at least five of those selections end up not making the team.
In 2012, that cannot happen. They need to get players who can contribute right away, in some fashion, on the defensive side of the ball. Jared Allen can only do so much. Antoine Winfield is approaching his final season as a pro, so the time to act is now.
If the Vikings can pick up some of these guys, it will be a solid start.