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: The wait and gamble in the quest for receivers

Posted by: Updated: April 23, 2013 - 7:39 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 story 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 4-5.
 
JARIUS WRIGHT, Arkansas receiver
 
Selected: Fourth round, 118th overall
 
Rookie year summary: Wright wasn’t active on game day until Week 10, only cracking the lineup after a season-ending injury to Percy Harvin. Wright finished those final seven games with 22 catches, 310 yards and two touchdowns. He also had the team’s longest reception of the year, a 65-yarder in the season finale.
 
Draft notable: With major needs at receiver, the Vikings waited until pick No. 118 to grab their first one. Seventeen other receivers came off the board before Wright.
 
Front office thoughts: “We had Jarius rated higher than where we took him. We thought he could have been a third-round guy. You could see his talent. We thought he was probably best in the slot. But he had playmaking ability. You saw potential as a punt returner and you zeroed in on his productivity in college. We wanted him to get stronger but saw that playmaking ability. And where we had him rated, he was the best player on our board when it came up for us to pick.” -- George Paton, Assistant GM
 
RHETT ELLISON, Southern Cal tight end
 
Selected: Fourth round, 128th overall
 
Rookie year summary: The blue-collar tight end went all-out from Day One as a special teams contributor and also set a tone amongst the tight ends with his blocking tenacity. Ellison recorded seven catches for 65 yards but was far more valuable as a dirty-work guy who pleased the coaching staff and front office with his intangibles.
 
Draft notable: The Vikings fell in love with Ellison’s passion but were also impressed with his overall skillset. In searching for a replacement for Jim Kleinsasser, they loved that Ellison could be used in multiple ways as a tight end and could even be a No. 2 option at fullback if anything happened to Jerome Felton.
 
Front office thoughts: “I think we felt that Rhett was a hell of a lot better player than maybe even Rhett did. To be honest with you. He was just a football player. Plain and simple. Physical. He could handle multiple roles. ... He is big and he can run and he’s a better athlete that probably a lot of people gave him credit for. He’s kind of the whole package. He’ll never be a flash guy who’s running with the football and getting vertical push down the seams and such. But he’s a better athlete than I think a lot of people gave him credit for.” -- Scott Studwell, Director of college scouting
 
GREG CHILDS, Arkansas receiver
 
Selected: Fourth round, 134th overall
 
Rookie year summary: Childs tore the patellar tendons in both knees during a training camp scrimmage in early August and spent the entire season on Injured Reserve. After suffering a torn patellar tendon in his right knee as a college junior in 2010, it remains doubtful that Childs will ever return to the top form he once knew when he was a budding star at Arkansas.
 
Draft notable: The Vikings were certainly wary of Childs’ knee problems in college with the injury bug ending his junior season and then limiting him to only 21 catches for 240 yards in eight games as a senior. Still, there was a willingness to roll the dice with hopes that a full recovery for Childs would springboard him into a prominent role.
 
Front office thoughts: “I think we all felt, it was OK to gamble there. We had three fourth [round picks]. You can make that pick there, and take a chance on a guy that, again, if he’s healthy would have been up the board higher. A lot higher. When we we reevaluating him off his junior tape, he was a big mismatch guy. If we only had one fourth-round pick, we probably don’t gamble. But again, at the beginning of the draft we built momentum in acquiring picks [in a trade with Cleveland]. And you’re foolish not to use that momentum. So you’ve got the equity to do things. Flexibility is a big deal.” -- Paton
 
ROBERT BLANTON, Notre Dame safety
 
Selected: Fifth round, 139th overall
 
Rookie year summary: Blanton quietly put together a solid season on special teams. And when thrust into action on defense in Week 5 after Harrison Smith was ejected for bumping a ref, he held up in what was his only meaningful defensive action of the season.
 
Draft notable: Blanton’s experience as a cornerback in college gave the Vikings optimism that he could be a reliable coverage asset after a move to safety.
 
Front office thoughts: “When we get down to those rounds, we’re trying to make extra sure they’re Vikings fits. He fit our criteria. There was no question about his toughness, his passion, his character. … And just like Rhett, Blanton plays the game with so much passion you know he’s going to play well for you on special teams. You look him in the eye and his confidence is there.” -- Rick Spielman, GM

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