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.


Spielman makes the case to pick Kalil, Blackmon and Claiborne

Posted by: Mark Craig under Quarterbacks, Vikings, NFL draft, Percy Harvin Updated: April 24, 2012 - 4:14 PM

Making sure not to tip his hand in the least, Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman stood before reporters earlier today and made a strong case for selecting teach each one of the three players he says the team is considering picking third overall in the first round of the NFL draft on Thursday night.

"There are no negatives on those three players," said Spielman, referring to USC left tackle Matt Kalil, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne and Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon.

From both a talent standpoint and a need standpoint, Spielman likes all three.

"I can tell you those three picks have exactly the same grade and just leave it at that," he said.

Spielman's case for Blackmon "Our philosophy is trying to get our young quarterback as many weapons around him as we can. You look at some of the teams that have a lot of success in this league and they have a lot of weapons around their quarterback. We've talked about how the quarterback grows and gets the ball out of his hands quicker, as long as he has weapons to get the ball to, that's going to make him efficient."

 Spielman's case for Kalil: "How many times do you get a chance to get a blue-chip offensive tackle? You also have to look at [whether] these guys ever going to become available on the unrestricted free agent market. Would you be able to get a blue-chip offensive tackle in the unrestricted free agent market? So you weigh that in. And how important is having a left tackle compared to having another playmaker on offense. He doesn't put points on the board, but the receiver is going to put points on the board."

 Spielman's case for Claiborne: "Mo Claiborne is maybe one of the more talented corners I've seen come out in a long time. He has very unique ball skills. He can play press and man. Just reading through the papers, I see we're a Cover 2 team. That's not the case. We play some Cover 3. We play a lot of Cover 1. With [defensive coordinator] Alan Williams and [coach] Leslie [Frazier] maybe making some tweaks to the defense, how does this corner have an impact on our defense as well. And you look at the quarterbacks we play and the receivers that we play in this division, to have a shutdown corner also is intriguing."

In other news:

  • Spielman said receiver Percy Harvin was scheduled to have his shoulder surgery today. Harvin, who had postponed the surgery because of a family emergency earlier this month, needed to have some bone spurs removed. He's expected to be ready in time for the start of the organized team activities at the end of May. 
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