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.


The 2012 NFL Draft: Vikings' Round 1 Review

Posted by: under Vikings, NFL draft, Antoine Winfield, John Sullivan Updated: April 26, 2012 - 11:53 PM

Your snapshot look at the Vikings' first-round moves during an action-packed Thursday night ...

VIKINGS ROUND 1 REVIEW

Who the Vikings chose: Matt Kalil, Southern Cal left tackle (No. 4) and Harrison Smith, Notre Dame safety (No. 29)

Why it makes sense: As much as Vikings general manager Rick Spielman postured that he was considering three players – Kalil, Morris Claiborne and Justin Blackmon – with the team’s top pick, the USC left tackle was always the guy who made the most sense. The Vikings invested heavily in quarterback Christian Ponder, using the 12th pick in the 2011 draft, and therefore are responsible for catalyzing the young quarterback’s growth in every way possible. Kalil’s promise has the organization convinced he can be a starter on the left side of the line well into the 2020s. Plus, the Vikings added two cornerbacks (Zack Bowman and Chris Carr) in free agency and are eager to have two others (Antoine Winfield and Chris Cook) return to the starting lineup after missing a combined 21 games last season. That hurt Claiborne’s value to the team. And Blackmon, while a superb receiver, was simply the headliner of what is a very deep receiving pool in this year’s draft. As for the Smith pick late Thursday night, that addresses what we’d documented as the Vikings’ biggest need in this year’s draft. The only three safeties on the roster before Thursday were Jamarca Sanford, Mistral Raymond and Eric Frampton. So moving up to snag Smith was a bold and purposeful move by Spielman.

What now?: With one third-round pick on Friday and nine selections for Saturday’s final four rounds, the Vikings won’t need to address the offensive line the rest of the weekend. Additional secondary help will be necessary. And yes, it seems logical that the Vikings’ next pick (No. 66 overall) should be used on a receiver.

You should know: Kalil didn’t allow a single sack in 2011 at USC, with the Trojans attempting 457 passes. … Smith was a two-time team captain at Notre Dame and now joins three other Fighting Irish standouts (John Carlson, Kyle Rudolph and John Sullivan) on the Vikings’ roster.

Quote of note: “This is a very exciting night. We feel like we brought in two very quality football players that are going to help our ballclub. I think the Minnesota Viking fans should be excited about these two players coming in.” – GM RICK SPIELMAN

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