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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Minnesota 16 FINAL
Buffalo 17
Atlanta 7 FINAL
Baltimore 29
Tennessee 17 FINAL
Washington 19
Seattle 26 FINAL
St. Louis 28
Cleveland 6 FINAL
Jacksonville 24
Cincinnati 0 FINAL
Indianapolis 27
Miami 27 FINAL
Chicago 14
New Orleans 23 FINAL
Detroit 24
Carolina 17 FINAL
Green Bay 38
Kansas City 23 FINAL
San Diego 20
Arizona 24 FINAL
Oakland 13
NY Giants 21 FINAL
Dallas 31
San Francisco 17 FINAL
Denver 42
Houston 10/20/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Boston 95 FINAL
Brooklyn 90
Minnesota 112 FINAL
Oklahoma City 94
Golden State 83 FINAL
Houston 90
Charlotte 96 FINAL
Chicago 101
Utah 91 FINAL
LA Lakers 98
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
San Jose 0 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Calgary 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 1
St. Louis 0 FINAL
Anaheim 3
TX-San Antonio 20 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 27
Syracuse 30 FINAL
Wake Forest 7
Purdue 38 FINAL
Minnesota 39
Western Ky 38 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 45
(12) Baylor 27 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 41
(11) Kansas State 31 FINAL
(17) Oklahoma 30
Iowa 31 FINAL
Maryland 38
So Florida 38 FINAL
Tulsa 30
Tulane 13 FINAL
UCF 20
Virginia 13 FINAL
Duke 20
Akron 20 FINAL
Ohio U 23
Western Mich 26 FINAL
Bowling Green 14
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
Massachusetts 36
Appalachian St 53 FINAL
Troy 14
(25) UCLA 36 FINAL
California 34
Texas A&M 0 FINAL
(4) Alabama 59
Army 17 FINAL
Kent State 39
Kansas 21 FINAL
Texas Tech 34
UAB 22 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 34
Rutgers 17 FINAL
(13) Ohio State 56
(8) Michigan State 56 FINAL
Indiana 17
New Mexico 31 FINAL
Air Force 35
NC State 18 FINAL
Louisville 30
(21) Clemson 17 FINAL
Boston College 13
Ball State 32 FINAL
Central Mich 29
Cincinnati 41 FINAL
SMU 3
(9) Georgia 45 FINAL
Arkansas 32
Oklahoma State 9 FINAL
(10) TCU 42
San Jose St 27 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Miami-Ohio 41 FINAL
Northern Ill 51
New Mexico St 17 FINAL
Idaho 29
Colorado 28 FINAL
(20) USC 56
(23) Marshall 45 FINAL
FIU 13
Southern Miss 30 FINAL
North Texas 20
Georgia Tech 43 FINAL
North Carolina 48
Tennessee 3 FINAL
(3) Ole Miss 34
Utah State 13 FINAL
Colorado State 16
Missouri 42 FINAL
Florida 13
Kentucky 3 FINAL
(24) LSU 41
(16) Nebraska 38 FINAL
Northwestern 17
Georgia State 27 FINAL
South Alabama 30
Washington 20 FINAL
(6) Oregon 45
Iowa State 45 FINAL
Texas 48
(7) Notre Dame 27 FINAL
(2) Florida State 31
Nevada 42 FINAL
BYU 35
Stanford 10 FINAL
(14) Arizona State 26
Hawaii 10 FINAL
San Diego St 20
Arkansas State 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Columbus 3 FINAL
Red Bull New York 1
Seattle 2 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Ottawa 6 FINAL
Hamilton 16
Montreal 20 FINAL
Toronto 12
Calgary 33 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Edmonton 24 FINAL
Saskatchewan 19

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