2012 NFL Draft: 10 Players the Minnesota Vikings Should Watch in Day 2
It turns out the Trent Richardson sweepstakes weren't quite as lucrative as the Robert Griffin III's were.
After playing their draft cards close to the vest over the past two months, the Minnesota Vikings took the player that most experts expected them to on Thursday night, selecting offensive tackle Matt Kalil out of Southern Cal with the fourth overall pick in the first round of the NFL Draft.
The Vikings got their man and picked up three more draft picks in the process. Not quite the sexy first- or second-round picks the Rams picked up for trading out of the two spot, but for a team that needs to fill as many holes as Minnesota does, the more picks the merrier.
GM Rick Spielman has pulled no punches over the last several weeks in saying that Minnesota had three players all ranked evenly: Kalil, cornerback Morris Claiborne and wide receiver Justin Blackmon. Unlike most draft scenarios, people watching the Vikings closely seemed to have less and less of an idea of what Minnesota was going to do as draft day approached.
In that respect, kudos should be given to the Vikings staff. By not showing their cards they were able to explore every possible trade route available to them. Not showing any favorite leading up to the draft had to get other teams on edge when considering who they were hoping for. Did the Rams want Justin Blackmon bad enough to trade up to get him? Did the Bucs have enough interest in Trent Richardson to leapfrog the Browns to get him? It turns out the Browns wanted Richardson more than the Bucs and gave the Vikings three later picks in order to switch spots and make sure they got Richardson.
Spielman then pulled the trigger on another trade, swapping their second-round pick and one of their fourth-rounders to the Ravens, for their first-round pick, the 28th overall choice. The Vikings filled a major need by taking safety Harrison Smith out of Notre Dame.
So, with Kalil and Smith in the fold, we look at who the Vikings may be looking at in day two of the draft, when Rounds 2 and 3 take place on Friday evening.
1. Josh Robinson, Cornerback, Central Florida
The NFL Combine is made for guys like Josh Robinson.
Playing at Central Florida, Robinson was far from the spotlight shining on the likes of Morris Claiborne, Dre Kirkpatrick and Stephon Gilmore. Things changed quickly for Robinson at the combine. Running a 4.33 40 will do that for you.
Not only did Robinson have the fastest 40 time in Indianapolis but he was also at or near the top in the short shuttle run, the three-cone drill, and both the broad and high jumps.
With all those impressive numbers, scouts around the league got back home and started watching a lot more game tape of Robinson. What they found along with his blazing speed was a thick, sturdy tackler whose only glaring weakness might be that he measured just under 5'10" at the combine.
Scouts found that Robinson isn't elite at the line of scrimmage, but he has tremendous speed to the ball and great instincts in both man and zone coverages.
The Vikings are in desperate need of playmakers in their secondary and Robinson has the speed and athletic ability to probably start from day one.
Bottom line: Robinson might have been in the conversation at 35, but since the Vikings traded up and out of the second round, it's a long shot that Robinson will be around for Round 3.
2. Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
Anyone who follows the NFL draft process knows the story of South Carolina wideout Alshon Jeffery by now.
Jeffery entered the 2011 college football season as a possible top-10 pick in this draft, but questions began to mount as Jeffery played a decent, but not spectacular season. Draft experts who make a living at picking apart college players found quite a bit to pick at when it came to Jeffery.
Too heavy. Too lazy. Isn't committed enough to football. Not fast enough to be a No. 1 receiver in the NFL. Rumors that Jeffery had put on a ton of weight after the season were put to rest at the combine when he weighed in at 216 pounds. Now everyone was wondering if he'd gone on a crash diet at the expense of his strength. Jeffery is learning that sometimes you just can't win in this process.
Jeffery's stock has dropped, no doubt about it, but the jury is still out on what kind of a player he'll be at the next level. On the surface, he has the potential to be a very large, tough-to-cover player who can certainly turn himself into a No. 1 option.
Bottom line: The Vikings would have to pull off another trade, giving up some of their excess picks to move back into the second round to have a shot at Jeffery as it's doubtful he'll fall all the way to the third round. If they like him enough, they may not rule out moving up to get him.
3. Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
If the Minnesota Vikings decide to go defense with their second round pick, most experts believe that in the third round they'll take the highest-rated receiver left on their draft board. Mohamed Sanu from Rutgers just might be their man.
Sanu has dropped on a lot of boards after an underwhelming performance at the draft combine. Specifically, a 4.58 40 time, the slowest among the top-rated receivers, is what has Sanu's stock dropping.
Now, unlike the Stephen Hills of the world, what Sanu has going for him is a ton of tape showing just how good of a football player he can be. A Big East-record 115 catches last season. A guy who plays a lot bigger and tougher than his 6'2", 215 pounds indicate. Sanu has a great football IQ, knows how to get open and is as tough as any player on the outside in this draft.
Bottom line: All Sanu lacks on a football field is elite speed. He's a tough football player and is very good after the catch, running with both moves and power. If the Vikings haven't taken a receiver by the third round, Sanu would be a great pick.
4. Kelechi Osemele, T, Iowa State
Well, why not?
At 6'6", 333 pounds, Osemele is an athletic big man, with everything you'd want in an offensive tackle, huge hands, a huge wingspan and ridiculous strength. Osemele screams of being one of those players who, once his life becomes football and he gets the best coaching, could be an absolute monster.
The Vikings worked with a patchwork offensive line last season and taking Osemele with a third round pick would do nothing but add depth and a potential top-line starter at tackle. Another bonus with Osemele is that they could turn him into a guard very quickly if that's where they needed him.
Bottom line: The Vikings have far too many needs to double up on offensive tackle in the first three rounds, but Osemele has the type of potential that would certainly make them take pause. Depending on what corners and receivers have been plucked from the board, if Osemele is still around at 66, he'd have to be in the conversation.
5. Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State
Brian Quick has the look of a small-school football player who's going to pay big dividends for whatever NFL team takes a chance on him.
A dominant player at Appalachian State, the 6'4", 220-pound Quick is certainly fast and athletic enough to make the adjustment when facing the best players in the world. Quick not only fit in just fine at the Senior Bowl, but stood out as one of the most NFL-ready players at the game.
Quick has extremely long arms and a great vertical leap, so he projects as a receiver who can make plays all over the field, quick slants as well as deep routes, and he'll be a force in the red zone.
Bottom line: The Vikings would do very well to grab Quick with their third-round pick. For a team that has a pretty poor history drafting in the middle rounds over the last few years, Quick looks to be a player who could ultimately be a No. 1 threat and a perfect compliment to Percy Harvin.
6. Terrell Manning, OLB, North Carolina State
The Vikings need all the playmakers they can get for a defense that was among the worst in the league last season. In Terrell Manning, an outside linebacker out of North Carolina State, they would be getting one.
At 6'2", 237 pounds, Manning was a force for the Wolfpack, but did have knee problems during his time in college. Once thought of as perhaps a second-round selection, after being poked and prodded at the combine, Manning's draft stock has suffered a bit.
With five sacks and three interceptions last season, Manning is the type of do-it-all linebacker that the Vikings are hoping to add to their defense.
Bottom line: Manning would be reach for the Vikings on day two of the draft, but would certainly be someone worth taking a long look at in Rounds 4 and 5.
7. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
It would be absolutely crazy for a team with Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart to use a second-day draft pick on a running back, right?
Absolutely not. If LaMichael James dropped into the third round for some reason, the Vikings would have to think long and hard about adding him to their stable of backs. James is an awesome talent and has proven over the entire draft process that he isn't just a third-down specialist, that he has enough size and strength to go with elite speed that he can be a do-it-all threat that any offense would be overjoyed to add.
James plays bigger than his 5'9", 195 stature, and players like Reggie Bush and Darren Sproles have certainly proven there is a place in the league for players like James.
Bottom line: Will Adrian Peterson ever be Adrian Peterson again? Is Toby Gerhart good enough to be a featured running back? These are questions that probably can't be answered right now, but if the Vikings think highly enough of James, using a third-round pick on his type of talent is never a bad move.
8. Mychal Kendricks, LB, California
Mychal Kendricks, the linebacker out of Cal, isn't just a combine wonder.
Kendricks turned a lot of heads in Indianapolis, running the fastest linebacker 40 time in 12 years with a time just under 4.4 seconds. That's unbelievable speed for a guy who's just under six feet tall and weighs in at 240 pounds.
Kendricks is an all-around player who can get sacks, interceptions and make a ton of tackles. The Vikings are looking for help at linebacker and Kendricks would certainly fill a need in the middle for Minnesota. Kendricks is a very mature kid who studies the game and won't have a huge learning curve at the next level.
Bottom line: The second round is way too early for the Vikings to take a player at a position that isn't crucial for them. If Kendricks is still on the board in the third round, Minnesota might give some serious thought to taking him and giving him a shot to start at middle linebacker.
9. Tommy Streeter, WR, University of Miami
6'5" wideout Tommy Streeter might be too tempting for the Vikings to pass up in Round 3 of the draft on Friday evening.
Even with a pretty thin resume while at the University of Miami, Streeter oozes with potential as a big, fast wideout who had a phenomenal second half of last season, showing off star potential. Streeter is a bit raw, but he projects as a possible No. 1 receiver a couple of years into his career.
After getting two of their three biggest needs in the first round of the draft on Thursday night, the Vikings will be looking to find a receiver on day two.
Bottom line: Depending on who is left among the receivers come Round 3, Streeter will more than likely be in play for Minnesota. They may wish to take someone with a longer resume than Streeter, but he certainly has enough potential to be a tantalizing option.
10. Casey Heyward, CB, Vanderbilt
The Vikings filled two of their biggest holes on Thursday night when they drafted Matt Kalil and Harrison Smith in the first round.
They will have plenty of options on Friday and Saturday, and one of the first issues they'll have to address is cornerback. They would do well to get Casey Heyward, the 5'11", 190 pounder out of Vanderbilt, to shore up their cornerback position.
Heyward was rising up draft boards after a great showing at the combine and after scouts looked at more and more tape of him. A great athlete who is both a great pass defender and a force against the run, he's exactly what the Vikings have lacked at the corner for the last few seasons.
Bottom line: The Vikings would be overjoyed to find Heyward still on the board come the third round. It's a deep year for corners, so even if Heyward goes in the second round, look for Minnesota to take a corner or two in the middle rounds.