Craig: Vikings feeling the brunt of opponents' top-picks

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 27, 2012 - 6:34 PM

The Vikings are seeing firsthand how deep and how talented the first-round draft class was this year.

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Andrew Luck looks to pass.

Photo: Michael Conroy, Associated Press

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History will be kind to the first round of the 2012 NFL draft.

That's been both good and bad news for the Vikings during the first half of this season.

While they used the first round to secure two quality decade-long starters in left tackle Matt Kalil and free safety Harrison Smith, they've also been beaten three times in eight games by rookie first-round picks.

• In Week 2, No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck completed three of three passes for 47 yards in 18 seconds to move the Colts into position for Adam Vinatieri's game-winning 53-yard field goal with 8 seconds left. In his first NFL victory, Luck completed 64.5 percent of his passes with two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 107.5 passer rating.

• In Week 6, No. 2 overall pick Robert Griffin III ran 76 yards for the clinching touchdown with 2:43 left in Washington's 38-26 win. In his first NFL home victory, Griffin had one touchdown passing, two running, completed 77.3 percent of his passes, ran for 138 yards and assured the Vikings of forever having a prominent spot in his career highlight film.

• On Thursday, the Vikings weren't any better against the bottom of the first round. Running back Doug Martin, the 31st overall pick, had 214 yards from scrimmage with a 64-yard touchdown reception and the crushing 1-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter of the Buccaneers' 36-17 upset at Mall of America Field.

There is, however, some good news for Vikings defenders. The only offensive rookie first-round pick they have left to play is Detroit's Riley Reiff, a backup offensive tackle with one start. They should be able to keep Riley out of the end zone.

Now, it's the offense's turn to deal with annoyingly talented rookie first-rounders. Over the next eight games, the Vikings face three defensive ends, one defensive tackle and an outside linebacker who have combined for 11 sacks before Halloween.

Here's a closer look at them:

• Bruce Irvin, DE, Seahawks: 6-3, 248 pounds, 15th pick out of West Virginia. He doesn't start, but he already has two multi-sack performances and 4 1/2 total sacks in his first seven NFL games. The Vikings face him in Seattle next Sunday.

• Shea McClellin, DE, Bears: 6-3, 260 pounds, 19th pick. And he's from Boise State. The Vikings are 0-1 this season when it comes to stopping former Broncos (Martin). McClellin doesn't start, but he has had at least half a sack in three games, including 1 1/2 against Green Bay and 2 1/2 total. The Vikings face him in Chicago on Nov. 25 and at home on Dec. 9.

• Nick Perry, OLB, Packers: 6-3, 265 pounds, 28th pick. He's started five of six games and has two sacks. The Vikings face him Dec. 2 at Green Bay and in the Dec. 30 season finale at home.

• Michael Brockers, DT, Rams: 6-5, 322 pounds, 14th pick. He has started four games and has one sack. The Vikings face him at St. Louis on Dec. 16.

• Whitney Mercilus, DE, Texans: 6-4, 257 pounds, 26th pick. He isn't a starter, but he has a sack and a forced fumble.

Of course, those aren't the only rookies who could cause the Vikings problems. Next Sunday, the Vikings take their 0-2 mark against rookie quarterbacks to Seattle, where third-rounder Russell Wilson, this year's 75th overall pick, has led the Seahawks to a 4-3 start.

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