1. First Round, 3rd overall: Matt Kalil, OT, USC
The Minnesota Vikings’ offensive line is in dire need of a makeover, and starting with a potential All-Pro caliber left tackle is the way to go. You simply have to protect the investment you made in Christian Ponder a year ago, though I could easily see the Vikings taking LSU CB Morris Claiborne with this pick as well, as he would be a good fit and fill a huge need. Here is our report on Kalil:
Kalil is a redshirt junior and is considered the best tackle prospect for the 2012 draft. He’s got great size coming in at 6 ft 7, 295 pounds. He uses his hands well and has good upper body strength. He also has good footwork. He has all the tools to be a starting left tackle in the NFL. Now, Kalil is not a perfect prospect. He would do well by following in the footsteps of former teammate Tyron Smith and bulking up. He needs to work on his pad level as he will lose leverage the longer a play continues. Matt is not the only player in his family to be a successful football player. His father played center in the NFL and his brother Ryan is an all pro center for the Carolina Panthers. Kalil has the potential to be a top 10 pick if he has a good year.
Pros--Extremely talented kid as a left tackle prospect…natural left tackle and has good feet…powerful in the running game…good family blood line…probably the most talented player between him and his brother (Ryan, C, Panthers)….very long arms…good height…gets off the snap fast…good use of hands…high motor…durable
Cons--Sometimes plays a little high, not an elite level athlete…been the top of his class for a couple of years… needs to add more bulk to his frame…needs to play stronger and while a natural knee bender, not a great technician at this point will have to improve on that
Player comparison–Nate Solder, OT, New England Patriots
He’s been compared to Joe Thomas, I’m not on that. He’s a really good prospect and the Vikings will be lucky to have him.
2. Second Round: Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
Like I said with the previous pick, CB is a dire need for the Vikings, and with this pick, they are able to fill at least one side of the field if Antoine Winfield comes back healthy and back to form. They didn’t have much else with Chris Cook not turning out to be as good as he was drafted to be, and Cedric Griffin off to the Washington Redskins. Minnesota also has some guys like Asher Allen, but I think a starting corner is a clear need as of now. Here is our report:
PROS: Great experience as a starter…hard worker…very quick to read quarterback… ball-hawk… solid tackler…has lock-down potential…excels in press coverage…good bulk and build…good speed…makes a lot of plays on the football…also plays well in zone coverage…doesn’t shy away from tackles…fluid enough to play the slot at the N.F.L. level
CONS: Injuries have been a slight concern for him (concussion in 2010), otherwise his biggest issue will be adjusting to the speed of the NFL…over aggressive at times making him vulnerable to double moves…a tick shorter than ideal..willing tackler does not mean great tackler
Player comparison: Jonathan Joseph
I’m not sure I”m willing to say Dennard is a better pro prospect than Prince Amukamara, but he is a real good one. He is a very fluid athlete who does a nice job in press coverage and could really excel on a team like the Oakland Raiders (but he won’t be drafted by the Oakland Raiders because they have no early round draft picks). Teams might turned off a bit by his injury history, but the team that does draft him in the late part of the first round is really getting themselves a top coverage corner. What you also like about Dennard is that he has the versatility to play outside or in the slot.
3. Third Round: Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State
The Vikings need a big possession receiver to go along with their speed in Percy Harvin. Minnesota has a solid couple of former Golden Dome TEs in John Carlson and Kyle Rudolph, but they need more weapons on the outside. Quick is a guy who reminds me a lot of Brandon Marshall. Here is our report:
Great ability to make the most out of poor quarterback play, shown big play ability throughout his career. Good hands, and will always have a size advantage. Effective after the catch, and despite his lack of pure speed manages to get open down the field. Great leaping ability, which will be a huge advantage going forward for him. He has a limited route tree and obviously plays at a lower-tier school than his draft peers, but he has a lot of talent to compensate. Slightly struggles to find separation on intermediate routes. Very raw in terms of his overall football IQ, whatever you want to define that as. He still has a lot of developing to do but if you ask a guy to go out and make plays, he is a good candidate. Should be an attractive name at offseason bowl games.
PROS: Athletic ability, size, strength, run after catch, ability to make plays down the field, hands, leaping ability, upside.
CONS: Limited route tree, slightly similar to a WR coming from a Georgia Tech only against lesser competition, straight line speed isn’t great, very raw, level of competition.
Player comparison: Poor man’s Brandon Marshall
When Marshall was coming out, he wasn’t even considered to be the fourth round pick he was selected as. He generated a reputation on the field in Denver as a dominant receiver, but off-field issues have plagued his career. If not for specific incidents, Marshall could be one of the league’s best. I think Quick has the potential to be a better pro prospect than Marshall with similar size/speed and even better ability on deep passes.
4. Fourth Round: Antonio Allen, S, South Carolina
The Vikings have some pretty bad or average safeties. I’m not sure adding a fourth round pick is going to get it done, but I feel like in a weak class, the best value at this position could be had in the middle rounds. I think Allen could step in as a special teams player year one, and possibly make an impact in the defensive rotation. Here’s my pre-season look at him:
Allen is a rugged player who can play both the linebacker and safety positions. He showed he is certainly capable last year starting at the SPUR linebacker position, finishing the season with 70 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and an interception which he returned for a touchdown. He also showed his ability to get into the backfield with 10.5 tackles for a loss. Allen is simply a playmaker, and if he’s not starting at the linebacker position he held last year, he’ll likely be starting as a safety. He will make his mark in the NFL on special teams, and could develop into a starting linebacker if he gains weight, or a starting safety as well, potentially.
5. Fifth Round: Tom Compton, OL, South Dakota
Compton is a developmental tackle prospect with loads of talent and athletic ability, but he’s really raw and definitely a guy you are going to have to let sit for a while. I think he has good upside at this stage of the draft, great size, and the Vikings have to be looking for that type of thing as the draft progresses. I like that he’s a somewhat local prospect, and the Vikings tend to be drawn to those kinds of players at times.
6. Sixth Round: Tank Carder, LB, TCU
Carder has his limitations, but he is a gamer and a very solid tackler and he could help the Vikings who are potentially losing Erin Henderson on the outside. At this point in the draft, you’re looking at potential special teams contributors as well, and I think Carder would be a solid option there. Here is our report:
Tall but short arms..pretty good speed…good instincts…really sound in coverage….team leader on the defense and has some play calling responsibilities…solid form tackler…non-stop motor and hustle, intense…good short area quickness…attacks the line of scrimmage well
Needs to get stronger…has a tendency to over peruse plays…does not have elite athleticism and a little stiff…could have some medical concerns (in high school he broke his back)…Not a pass rusher at the N.F.L. level…limited upside
7. Seventh Round: Cliff Harris, CB, Oregon
Cliff Harris has some character concerns, but he’s the kind of guy who could come in as a seventh round pick and be a very low-risk, potentially high-reward type of player. He has a ton of talent, but he needs to put everything together mentally if he’s going to be successful in the NFL. At this stage of the draft, he could be like a Perrish Cox type of steal for the Vikings.