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Minnesota Vikings 2012 Draft: Another Way the First Round Could Have Gone

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26:  Matt Kalil from USC holds up a jersey as he stands on stage after he was selected #4 overall by the Minnesota Vikings in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 26, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images
Sammy SucuSenior Analyst IOctober 30, 2016

Although the Minnesota Vikings had one of the most successful drafts in years, the team may have not used their draft picks efficiently. The team did address all the areas of need, but they might not have done it with the best talent possible. 

The Vikings and general manager Rick Spielman got it right when they traded down one slot to the fourth overall pick. They got three late-round picks and did not lose anything in the process. The team still had a choice between left tackle Matt Kalil, wide receiver Justin Blackmon and cornerback Morris Claiborne. 

The team eventually selected Kalil with the fourth overall pick, which, at the time, seemed like the right move, but it in fact was not. Kalil is the best left tackle prospect to come out of the draft since Joe Thomas in 2008, but there were other tackles in this draft that were not too far away from Kalil. 

Riley Reiff fell to the Detroit Lions with the 23rd overall selection and Jonathan Martin fell into the laps of the Miami Dolphins in the second round. Mike Adams was another great left tackle, though he had some issues with marijuana in college; he dropped to the second round. 

The Vikings could have selected either Martin or Adams in the second round and still would have had a great left tackle to help fix the offensive line problems. Both Adams and Martin were very good prospects coming out and even though they were not rated better than Kalil, they both have incredible value in the second round. 

Instead of drafting Kalil fourth overall, the Vikings could have drafted Claiborne to solve their issues in the secondary. Claiborne was rated the top cornerback in the draft this year and was rated much higher than his teammate, Patrick Peterson, when he was drafted last season.

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26:  Morris Claiborne from LSU holds up a jersey as he stands on stage after he was selected #6 overall by the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of during the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 26, 2012 in New York City.
Al Bello/Getty Images

Claiborne would have been the shut-down cornerback the Vikings so desperately need. Claiborne in the first round and either Adams or Martin in the second round would have been perfect for this team. You get the best cornerback in the draft and one very good left tackle instead of getting the best left tackle and a safety who is only coveted because of a terrible class at his position. 

This leaves us with a very interesting question here. Although the Vikings had a great draft, would it have been better to take Claiborne first and find a left tackle later, or was it better the way the Vikings did it?

The way the Vikings did it may have been better for a couple of reasons. 

First, the team needs a safety more than they need a cornerback. The Vikings run a Cover 2 scheme and because of that, they could get away with not having insanely talented corners. By drafting Josh Robinson and Robert Blanton in third and fifth rounds, respectively, the Vikings found those average corners that could thrive in the system.

Claiborne would have been great for the system as well, but it would have been completely unnecessary to take him that early. 

Second, even though Martin and Adams are both really good prospects, they are more of a risk than Kalil is. There are no guarantees with draft picks, but based on Kalil's bloodlines, poise and size, there is little to no risk with drafting him. 

Even though there were other possibilities of drafting, the Vikings got it right by taking Kalil and Smith in the first round. Both of them will be starters on day one and effectively contribute to the Vikings. Kalil and Smith will make sure the Vikings are not drafting in the top 10 next year and also ensure some more competitive play on both sides of the ball.

Spielman got it right in his first year as the GM, and if he keeps getting it right every year, the Vikings may just get back to the NFC championship and win this time. 

 

Sammy Sucu is a featured columnist for the WWE. Sammy also writes for the NFL, the Minnesota Vikings and the Los Angeles Lakers. You can follow him on Twitter and follow all of his coverage during WWE events for live updates and analysis.

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