Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Vikings 2012 Draft: Matt Kalil, Harrison Smith was desired 1-2 punch

Posted by: Updated: April 23, 2013 - 7:20 AM
The Vikings will head into this weekend’s NFL Draft with 11 picks overall and confidence riding high after the front office assembled a terrific 2012 draft class. To get the inside story on how last year’s draft weekend unfolded, make sure to read today’s piece on the ins and outs, ups and downs of that experience. Here now is the quick look back at all 10 players the Vikings selected last year. In this installment, we look at the Vikings picks from Rounds 1-3.
 
MATT KALIL. Southern Cal left tackle
 
Selected: Round 1, fourth pick overall
 
Rookie year summary: Kalil was everything he was advertised to be, an incredible body guard for quarterback Christian Ponder and a fast-improving run blocker. He wound up playing in the Pro Bowl, selected to that game as an alternate.
 
Draft notable: The Vikings were rumored to have interest in Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon and LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne with their top overall pick but were convinced all along Kalil was their best option.
 
Front office thoughts: “Matt was a unique athlete for his position. And obviously, picking at the top of the draft where we were, it was a position of need for us. Charlie [Johnson] had done a good job for us the previous season at left tackle. But we felt that if we got Matt, we’d instantly be better at two positions. So we saw it as a two-for-one with that pick with the ability to kick Charlie into left guard. You look at it, and for that position, Matt was a rare athlete. Those guys don’t come around every year. The value was too good to pass up.” – Scott Studwell, Director of college scouting
 
HARRISON SMITH, Notre Dame safety
 
Selected: Round 1, 29th pick overall
 
Rookie year summary: Smith became an immediate starter and the top playmaker in a resurgent secondary. He had three interceptions as a rookie, two returned for touchdowns, both in games the Vikings won 21-14.
 
Draft notable: GM Rick Spielman fell in love with Smith watching his 2011 and 2010 film from Notre Dame. The Vikings coaching staff then had a week working with Smith while coaching the North squad at the 2012 Senior Bowl. Upon leaving that event, the Vikings loved the aggression and savvy of the young safety and ended up trading up six spots to make sure to land Smith in Round 1 last year. Smith’s dip in interceptions from his junior to senior year -- from seven to zero -- wasn’t disconcerting. His tenacity and instincts were just too strong.
 
Front office thoughts: “When I went back through the tape, it wasn’t like he didn’t have the same ballhawking skills. It was more him being in position but just not coming up with [the picks] for whatever reason. It was just finishing the play. And I know [defensive backs coach] Joe Woods and our coaches work extremely hard with those guys from a technical standpoint on finishing, catching the ball, things like that.” – General Manager Rick Spielman
 
“He doesn’t wow you when you watch him in shorts and running around. And I think most of our guys will tell you, at the Senior Bowl, he probably didn’t wow a lot of people. But when you watch the tape and you interview him, he’s so dialed in he has everything you want between the ears. And you watch him play and he plays better than he looks working out. We really needed to solidify that position with someone like that. We hadn’t had that for awhile. And we felt he brought that. Everyone fell in love just watching him play. Then, the more you’re around him, the more it clicks.” – Assistant GM George Paton
 
JOSH ROBINSON, Central Florida cornerback
 
Selected: Third round, 66th pick overall
 
Rookie year summary: Robinson’s highlight reel moment was a nifty interception and 44-yard return in a Week 14 home win over Chicago. He started six games and recorded two picks and 61 tackles. His rookie season was filled with inconsistency and he slid out of favor late in the season as the Vikings coaches looked for stability. But there is every expectation that Robinson will earn a starting spot for 2013.
 
Draft notable: Robinson was lumped together on the Vikings’ draft board with a cornerback group that included Vanderbilt’s Casey Hayward and Montana’s Trumaine Johnson. But both those players were drafted before the Vikings went on the clock for the first time on Day 2. In Robinson, they recognized a raw talent who might need time to develop.
 
Front office thoughts: “There are a lot of things that catch your eye with Josh. His size and his speed and his cover skills and agility. And he had some obvious holes, too. But we felt he had a lot of upside and a lot of skill for what we’re aiming to do defensively. We saw a very young talent who’s still a little ways away. But that’s OK too. Because he’s got a bright future. His initial holes were probably that he wasn’t as physical as you wanted him to be. But with evaluations, we tend to be a little more forgiving with corners than we are with some other positions. And Josh showed that he could be physical. And he could play on [special] teams for us. So he was able to do some of the dirty work we were looking for to offset some of those deficiencies we were maybe wondering about.” -- Studwell

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New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Portland 0 Postponed
Brooklyn 0
Sacramento 0 Postponed
New York 0
Philadelphia 74 FINAL
New Orleans 99
Minnesota 84 FINAL
Oklahoma City 92
Orlando 94 FINAL
Memphis 103
Boston 99 FINAL
Utah 90
Denver 94 4th Qtr 1:07
LA Clippers 96
Army 68 FINAL
American Univ 66
Wright State 64 FINAL
Detroit 53
Syracuse 83 FINAL
North Carolina 93
Cleveland State 56 FINAL
Oakland 59
Delaware State 54 FINAL
NC Central 55
High Point 63 FINAL
Presbyterian 54
Howard 45 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 42
Coppin State 84 FINAL
NC A&T 71
Nicholls 51 FINAL
Northwestern St 80
Hampton 56 FINAL
SC State 65
Gardner-Webb 59 FINAL
Campbell 78
MD-Eastern Shore 72 FINAL
Florida A&M 65
Stephen F Austin 82 FINAL
Lamar 65
Central Arkansas 67 FINAL
New Orleans 87
Norfolk State 70 FINAL
Savannah State 54
TX A&M-CC 70 FINAL
SE Louisiana 61
Sam Houston St 80 FINAL
Abilene Christian 63
McNeese State 84 FINAL
Incarnate Word 86
Milwaukee 48 FINAL
Valparaiso 73
Alcorn State 66 FINAL
Alabama A&M 78
Southern U 59 FINAL
Alabama State 63
Prairie View 68 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 105
Texas 86 FINAL
Iowa State 89
Texas Southern 85 FINAL
Miss Valley St 84
Long Island 85 FINAL
Bryant 88
Central Conn St 51 FINAL
St Francis-NY 49
Fairleigh Dickinson 0 Postponed
Sacred Heart 0
St Francis-PA 87 FINAL
Wagner 74
Delaware State 59 FINAL
NC Central 66
Howard 53 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 61
Coppin State 49 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 88 FINAL
SC State 53
Norfolk State 54 FINAL
Savannah State 56
MD-Eastern Shore 54 FINAL
Florida A&M 64
Angelo State 55 FINAL
Abilene Christian 70
Samford 32 FINAL
(25) Chattanooga 49
Prairie View 83 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 66
Alcorn State 58 FINAL
Alabama A&M 55
Southern U 53 FINAL
Alabama State 49
Texas Southern 63 FINAL
Miss Valley St 52
(12) Texas A&M 61 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 79
Robert Morris 68 FINAL
Mount St Marys 44
East Tenn St 72 FINAL
Mercer 70
Wofford 56 FINAL
Furman 58
Morehead St 64 FINAL
Tenn Tech 54
Illinois 57 FINAL
Michigan 70
Quinnipiac 0 Postponed
Manhattan 0
Saint Peters 0 Postponed
Rider 0
(18) Miss State 59 FINAL
Auburn 48
(15) Nebraska 72 FINAL
(20) Iowa 78

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