The Best Rookie Storylines at Minnesota Vikings Mini Camp

Sigmund BloomNFL Draft Lead WriterJune 18, 2012

EDEN PRAIRIE, MN - MAY 4: Matt Kalil #75 of the Minnesota Vikings runs through a drill during a rookie minicamp on May 4, 2012 at Winter Park in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Minnesota Vikings' early picks in the 2012 NFL draft corresponded very well to their largest needs. This should make it easy for them to showcase their rookies as they mix with the established veterans at the team's minicamp this week.

Rookie-based storylines abound, as the team is likely to rely on many first-year players in 2012.


How Much of an Instant Improvement Will First-Rounders Matt Kalil and Harrison Smith Provide?

Kalil will start at left tackle, and Smith should have no trouble knocking Jamarca Sanford out of the top spot at strong safety. The focus this week won't be whether they can start right away, but rather how well they are meshing with their teammates on the offensive line and in the secondary.

Smith's usage will also be something to track, as he can do everything from being the eighth man in the box to providing man coverage on slot receivers.


Is Sixth-Round Blair Walsh Ready?

The team drafted kicker Blair Walsh in the sixth round, which wasn't a huge surprise, because the incumbent kicker Ryan Longwell struggled to get good distance on his kickoffs.

The release of Longwell that followed soon after the draft put a lot on the rookie's shoulders. Fox Sports North's Brian Hall reports that Walsh has had "mixed success" and that head coach Leslie Frazier will "increase the pressure" on Walsh during the minicamp to see how he responds. The team may need to open up their kicker Rolodex if he doesn't respond well.


Can Third-Round Cornerback Josh Robinson Be the Third Rookie Starter?

Robinson got the first snap with the first team at right cornerback during last week's OTAs, according to 1500ESPN's Tom Pelissero.

He brings speed and explosive athletic ability to the table that no other corner on the roster can provide. Chris Cook has more size and Chris Carr has more experience, but Robinson would be a better antidote for NFC North receivers like Titus Young, Jordy Nelson and Devin Hester who can threaten defenses with their speed.

If Robinson gets the first snap with the first team again tomorrow, look for him to be the favorite to start opposite Antoine Winfield when training camp opens.


Will Greg Childs Be Able to Get Back on the Field?

Childs is a top size/speed talent who suffered a torn patellar tendon in 2010 and fell to the late fourth round because of concerns that he'll never be the same after the injury. He's been missing time with a calf injury while 2011 draft pick Stephen Burton has been impressing in OTAs, which is costing him a chance to a make a good early impression and get on the field during Jerome Simpson's three-game suspension.

The Vikings are thin enough at wide receiver that Childs' roster spot is probably not in jeopardy yet, but if his injury woes persist into training camp, he could be an injured reserve candidate. Getting on the field this week would do a lot to minimize that possibility.