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 before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.

The inside scoop on a frenzied and successful draft night at Winter Park

Posted by: under Vikings, Adrian Peterson, Vikings draft Updated: April 27, 2012 - 8:59 AM

The first night of the 2012 draft is in the books with the Vikings adding a pair of players: left tackle Matt Kalil and safety Harrison Smith. Yet given the inevitable blur that the first round of the draft always is, you may not have received the volume of poignant information you desired as the picks were unfolding. Not to fear. We’ve got you covered with eight nuggets of valuable information to provide depth and context on everything that’s happened.


Wondering how Matt Kalil received the official confirmation that he was now a Minnesota Viking? The call came from general manager Rick Spielman. According to Kalil, it unfolded like this.

Spielman: “You ready to get this over with?”

Kalil: “Hell yeah.”

Yep, that’s the behind-the-scenes moment the Vikings hope marks the beginning of a long and healthy relationship.

Spielman’s assessment of Kalil’s strengths and weaknesses was just as honest. He lauded the young left tackle’s athleticism and said he had “the foot quickness to be an island out there when matched up against the premier pass rushers in this league.”

Kalil may need to get bigger to truly flourish in the NFL. He weighed in at the combine in February at 306 pounds after playing most of last season close to 290. But the Vikings believe Kalil has the frame to add the necessary weight without diminishing his quickness. Kalil’s 34.5-inch arm length was another attribute Spielman gushed about.

The Vikings fell in love with Kalil watching him on tape, admired even more of what they saw and heard from him at the combine, then got a persuasive endorsement from offensive line coach Jeff Davidson, who went to USC’s pro day and had additional time to visit with the standout tackle.


Southern Cal offensive line coach James Cregg gave the Star Tribune his rundown of Kalil’s promise. Cregg points first to Kalil’s passion and competitive nature.

“It’s important to him,” Cregg said. “And the one thing I admire is if something does happen to him as far as him getting beat or somebody getting after him in a game or practice, he finds a way to come back and get his steam hot to come back and get another rep in and get after it. He has that fierce nature to him that you want in a guy. He always had an edge about him.”

Cregg acknowledges that there are little things Kalil needs to clean up with his run blocking and footwork but believes those are easy corrections. He also knows Kalil’s hunger to win one-on-one battles on the edge will make him an NFL standout for years.

“That’s the most important thing as a left tackle in the NFL. You have to be a stallion there,” Cregg said. “You cannot be a guy who’s going to lose one-on-one pass rushes. You have to be a guy who makes a stand and competes to win. That’s what Matt does. He struggles when he loses. It bothers him. And he’ll immediately do everything within his power to fix it and get it right.”


In addition to landing Kalil, the Vikings pulled off a steal of a trade at the outset of the draft, moving back from No. 3 to No. 4 while also gaining fourth-, fifth- and seventh-round picks from Cleveland. Spielman would not acknowledge whether or not he tried to get the Browns’ second-round selection at any point in the negotiations.

“We only had to move back one spot and we knew we were still going to get our guy,” Spielman said. “So what we got, we felt very comfortable with.”


We had received a bit of intelligence in the last week to 10 days that the Vikings had grown quite fond of Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith and had him as the guy they wanted to land with their second pick. We tried to alert you.

The Vikings possibly could have waited with their breath held with hopes that Smith would have lasted until they were on the clock again at No. 35. But they took no chances and moved up six spots late Thursday night to get their man.

I had alluded to the possibility of Smith becoming a Viking first on Twitter and again during my Wednesday afternoon chat. Here was some of what we addressed.

Comment From Snapit : Do the Vikings pull the trigger on Rueben Randle or Kendall Wright if either falls to the top of round 2? You gotta think yes.

Dan Wiederer: If either of those WRs were to fall into Round 2, you'd have to give them a long, hard look. I like Randle's speed and think he could be an asset. But I still contend that safety is the team's biggest need right now and have heard that the Vikings love Notre Dame's Harrison Smith and would love to pull the trigger if he's around at 35. Again this is a very deep WR crop. And it's going to allow the Vikings to have some good options at both 35 and 66.


Comment From Kevin: you mentioned earlier about the Vikings really liking Notre Dame's safety. which round would the vikings have to take him?

Dan Wiederer: Harrison Smith. You take him at the top of Round 2 if available. Wouldn't be stunned if they tried to move back into the end of Round 1 to get him there.

I asked Spielman late Thursday night whether Kalil-Smith was the vision he had for the start of his draft.

“You can say that was a fair vision,” he said.


The Vikings’ interest in Smith elevated in January when their coaching staff spent a week in Mobile, Ala., coaching the Notre Dame safety with the North squad at the Senior Bowl. Before, during and after that event, Spielman and Frazier talked about the value of the week and how much insight it had provided them with so much hands on time with the draft prospects on the North team. Interestingly, the Vikings apparently liked Smith so much that they cut off contact with him after the Senior Bowl. Spielman acknowledged that nearly three-month gap in contact on Thursday night. But even with that disconnect, the Vikings never forgot Smith’s range, versatility and intelligence. They also liked the idea that Smith was a two-time captain at Notre Dame.

“We watched him play on the big stage,” Spielman said. “He has held up and made terrific plays against top competition. The big stage is not going to be too big for this kid.”


With an offensive tackle and a safety added Thursday night, you’d have to figure the Vikings will want to land a receiver with their next pick. Currently, they don’t figure to be back on the clock until late Friday night when the 66th overall pick comes up. But don’t discount Spielman scratching that trade itch once more if there is a player he really wants. With 10 picks left in the arsenal, the Vikings have the flexibility to move around again if so desired.

As for the top receivers left on the board? Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill and LSU’s Rueben Randle will likely be nabbed early in Round 2. The Vikings would love to see South Carolina’s Alshon Jeffery fall into Round 3. Though if they are sold on him – and we’ve heard there’s serious interest – they could trade back into Round 2 and jockey into position like they did for Smith. Other receivers that might be worth a look at pick 66 include Appalachian State’s Brian Quick, Wake Forest’s Chris Given and Rutgers’ Mohamed Sanu.


Big things must have happened Thursday night for an Adrian Peterson rehabilitation update to be this far down. But Frazier acknowledged once again that Peterson is doing great as he works back from the severe knee injury (ACL and MCL tears) he suffered on Christmas Eve. Peterson, under the watchful eye of head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman, took some time Tuesday to run in the Vikings’ field house as most of his teammates were partaking in the team’s offseason conditioning program.

Said Frazier: “Adrian looked out and saw the guys doing wind sprints and he says, ‘Ya know, I don’t think they’re running hard enough.’ And Eric allowed him to go out and run with them. And he passed them four different times. He finished first four different times. I remember Joe Webb saying, ‘I can’t believe it. I just can’t believe it.’”

Frazier said the next step for Peterson is getting to a point where he can do some cutting.


With Smith drafted Thursday night, one has to wonder whether the offer the Vikings put out to Husain Abdullah last month will be revised in any way or taken off the table. The team will probably see how the rest of this draft pans out before revisiting Abdullah’s future. Abdullah was put on the shelf in November last season after suffering his second concussion of the year. He has since gotten medical clearance to return to football and the Vikings say they offered him a deal to come back.

Abdullah has yet to decide whether he will act on that deal. You wonder if the Vikings will cool some this weekend if they add another body or two to their secondary during the draft.


New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
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 98 FINAL
LA Clippers 102
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
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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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9




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