How the Vikings' 2012 draft class came to be

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 23, 2013 - 10:14 AM

By all accounts, the Vikings’ draft class last year was an immediate success. GM Rick Spielman and his staff show how their plan developed and thrived.

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Coach Leslie Frazier and General Manager Rick Spielman flanked the two biggest prizes of the Vikings’ 2012 draft class, offensive tackle Matt Kalil and safety Harrison Smith. The two first-rounders quickly became fixtures in the starting lineup for a team that improved from 3-13 in 2001 to 10-6 and in the playoffs.

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The golden rule at Winter Park is nonnegotiable. A draft class cannot be fully evaluated until after three seasons.

So there will be no celebration of the Vikings’ 2012 haul until January 2015. At the earliest.

To rejoice now would be premature, like declaring a Las Vegas trip a success after a hot 30-minute blackjack run.

“What if all those guys we picked last year come back in 2013 and stink it up?” asked General Manager Rick Spielman.

That, of course, is not the expectation. Not with a group whose talent and hunger paid immediate dividends. So even with the three-year rule in place, those within the Vikings organization have no problem expressing unbridled enthusiasm about the momentum built through last year’s draft.

It was a weekend that included 10 picks and four trades, a draft that delivered difference-making starters on offense and defense in Round 1 (Matt Kalil and Harrison Smith); a Pro Bowl steal in Round 6 (Blair Walsh); and plenty of promising complementary parts throughout (see: Josh Robinson, Jarius Wright, Rhett Ellison and Robert Blanton).

Sure, we may only have one season of on-field results to assess. But the internal hunch is that last year’s draft may long be looked at as a landmark turning point.

Said director of college scouting Scott Studwell, entering his 22nd season in the player personnel department: “As long as I’ve been doing this, that class is one of the best if not the best that we’ve had here. A lot of things just clicked.”

So how did it all come together?

And which key elements will the Vikings hope to find again when they charge into another critical draft this weekend?

Here’s our look back …

Day 1: Having a plan, attacking with purpose

In the final days before last year’s draft, two certainties emerged. First, the Vikings were set on making Kalil their top pick. Yet even with that, Spielman also was growing increasingly eager to plunge into one of his favorite activities of the weekend: trade talks.

Convinced Kalil was a can’t-miss future Pro Bowl player, Studwell feared Spielman’s urges to wheel and deal might interfere with the opportunity to land the superb left tackle.

So before leaving Spielman to his fun, Studwell made sure to reassert his stance: Kalil was a must get, no matter what kind of chatter caught the GM’s ear.

“But what if we were to get some crazy, RG3-type compensation offer for that No. 3 pick?” Spielman asked, mostly trying to instigate Studwell.

Studwell didn’t budge.

“Don’t [bleep] this up,” he said. “Seriously. Get Kalil.”

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Pittsburgh - LP: F. Liriano 0 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto 4
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Odorizzi 0 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez 3
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Hammel 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 3
St. Louis - LP: J. Kelly 1 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: W. Peralta 5
NY Mets - WP: D. Gee 5 FINAL
Arizona - LP: B. McCarthy 2
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 1 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: C. Lee 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wood 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Pineda 2
Cleveland - WP: Z. McAllister 3 FINAL
Detroit - LP: A. Sanchez 2
Washington - WP: D. Storen 6 FINAL
Miami - LP: M. Dunn 3
Seattle - LP: F. Rodney 2 FINAL
Texas - WP: P. Figueroa 3
Boston - WP: C. Capuano 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: L. Garcia 4
Kansas City - WP: D. Duffy 6 FINAL
Houston - LP: J. Williams 4
Toronto 0 Postponed
Minnesota 0
Oakland - LP: D. Pomeranz 4 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: J. Smith 5
Colorado - LP: J. De La Rosa 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: A. Cashner 4
Los Angeles - LP: J. Howell 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: J. Machi 2
Chicago 86 FINAL
Charlotte 91
Indiana 101 FINAL
Orlando 86
Atlanta 111 FINAL
Milwaukee 103
Dallas 105 FINAL
Memphis 106
Detroit 111 FINAL
Oklahoma City 112
Houston 100 FINAL
New Orleans 105
LA Lakers 113 FINAL
San Antonio 100
Brooklyn 85 FINAL
Cleveland 114
Philadelphia 100 FINAL
Miami 87
Utah 136 FINAL
Minnesota 130
Washington 118 FINAL
Boston 102
Toronto 92 FINAL
New York 95
Golden State 116 FINAL
Denver 112
LA Clippers 104 FINAL
Portland 110
Phoenix 104 FINAL
Sacramento 99
Montreal 5 FINAL(OT)
Tampa Bay 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 4
Dallas 3 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 2
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2013 preseason     
Aug 9 - vs. Houston 7 pmX27-13
Aug 16 - at Buffalo 6 pmX20-16
Aug 25 - at San Francisco 7 pmX34-14
Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee 7 pmX24-23
2013 regular season     
Sep 8 - at Detroit NoonX34-24
Sep 15 - at Chicago NoonX31-30
Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland NoonX31-27
Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London) NoonX34-27
Oct 6 - Bye
Oct 13 - vs. Carolina NoonX35-10
Oct 21 - at. NY Giants 7:40 pmX23-7
Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay 7:30 pmX44-31
Nov 3 - at Dallas NoonX27-23
Nov 7 - vs. Washington 7:25 pmX34-27
Nov 17 - at Seattle 3:25 pmX41-20
Nov. 24 - at Green Bay Noon26-26
Dec 1 - vs. Chicago NoonX23-20
Dec 8 - at Baltimore NoonX29-26
Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia NoonX48-30
Dec 22 - at Cincinnati NoonX42-14
Dec 29 - vs. Detroit NoonX14-13

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