The bandwagon won't be big enough now that the Vikings have bounced back from a 34-0 licking at the hands of the Packers to win three games in a row and put themselves in position to make the playoffs.

Coach Brad Childress might have undergone a brain implant since the Packers loss Nov. 11, because the same fans who wanted to fire him three weeks ago now are singing his praises.

You also have to say a special word of praise for Rick Spielman, Scott Studwell and the various scouts for putting together what is shaping up to be one of the best drafts in the history of the franchise.

There were a lot of heroes in the Vikings' 42-10 victory over the Lions, but what stood out Sunday were the contributions of the 2007 draft class.

First-round pick Adrian Peterson rushed 15 times for 116 yards and two touchdowns; second-rounder Sidney Rice caught five passes for 53 yards and a touchdown; third-rounder Marcus McCauley tied for the team lead with seven tackles; and fifth-rounder Aundrae Allison ran a kickoff back a Vikings-record 103 yards and also caught two passes for 52 yards. Not mentioned was fourth-rounder Brian Robison, who didn't make any tackles Sunday but continued to earn praise from coaches for his work at defensive end.

The Vikings' 1967 draft included Clinton Jones, Gene Washington and Alan Page, and this 2007 class might shape up to be as good as that one.

Nobody around here questioned the selection of Peterson. But there were some second-guessers, including myself, when the Vikings passed on Southern California All-America receiver Dwayne Jarrett and instead took the less-heralded Rice from South Carolina.

Jarrett has been warming the Carolina Panthers bench while Rice has turned out to be a big contributor here.

Talking about Rice and Allison, Studwell said: "They're similar in a lot of ways, but they're also different in a lot of ways.

"Sidney is still a very young player [he turned 21 in September] who's got a tremendous upside," said Studwell, the Vikings director of college scouting. "He's got tremendous athletic skill, and he's got great ball skills. You know he's still a little raw in his route-running, but he's getting better every day; [receivers coach] George Stewart's doing a great job with him. ... He was a player that we really liked. Rick was really very high on him."

Played for Holtz

Allison played his college football for Skip Holtz, son of former Gophers coach Lou Holtz, at East Carolina.

"He was a junior college transfer that had a world of talent, that was still just a little bit rough around the edges," recalled Studwell, who ran the draft. "... But he's got, as you saw today in that kickoff return, he has the speed and the quickness and the ball skills to be a playmaker."

Allison was well-scouted by the Vikings, including Studwell, Stewart and Spielman, the vice president of player personnel.

"So, we had a lot of exposure to him. We know Skip pretty well and they swear by the kid's ability, and he's just a kid that had to learn some of the fine points of playing the position," Studwell said. "But he's a great young raw talent. He showed he can make plays when you get the ball in his hands. He's still learning how to play the position, but all of these young kids have stepped up to the plate and really are making a lot of plays for us."

Studwell sang the praises of Childress for giving the rookies the opportunity to play.

"A lot of times, coaches are very hesitant to play young players, and they're learning on the run and they're going to make some mistakes along the way, but they're also making some plays," Studwell said. "So, it's been a very productive class so far, no question."

The coaches still have hope for sixth-round pick Rufus Alexander, the former Oklahoma linebacker who suffered a knee injury in training camp.

The draft might have been even better had the Vikings not gambled and lost on seventh-round pick Tyler Thigpen, the quarterback who was claimed on waivers by Kansas City.

Not concerned

Peterson, who missed two games after tearing a knee ligament in the loss at Green Bay, said he wasn't concerned at all about reinjuring the knee.

"I just really wanted to see how it would feel once I got the first contact. It felt pretty good, and I started again to get back into my rhythm," he said.

Peterson didn't see any action in the fourth quarter. "I wanted to play, but I understand their decision-making, too," he said.

The former Oklahoma star said his knee was a little sore Friday but didn't worry about it, saying it was caused by a return to full-speed practice. And he played with a knee brace Sunday that didn't cause any problems.

"With the knee brace, I might be a little more stiff or what not, but I felt pretty good as far as pain or anything like that," he said.

More trick plays

Every week, Childress seems to come up with a trick play, and just about all of them have been successful. This time it was on fourth-and-3 on the Detroit 33. The team lined up for a field goal, but instead holder Chris Kluwe shoveled a pass to tight end Jeff Dugan that resulted in a 27-yard gain.

It went for naught when Tarvaris Jackson was picked off by Detroit's Travis Fisher on third-and-goal from the 5, but that didn't matter much with the Vikings up 32 points late in the third quarter.

"It was something [special teams] coach [Paul] Ferraro had seen ... he's the one that comes up with the schemes and everything, and so he figured we had something there," Kluwe said after his first career pass attempt and completion. "He got the approval from Coach Childress and they both made the call and it was there so we ran it.

"I was really hoping that Dugan was going to make it to the end zone to get that perfect quarterback rating."

James coming along

Defensive end Erasmus James played in his sixth game and finished with one tackle. "I played a pretty fair amount of the game. I feel good, and everything's starting to come together," said James, the 2005 first-round pick who suffered a serious knee injury last year.

On the knee, he said: "It's sore every once in a while but that's the way it's going to be for that year coming off of surgery, so everything's well."

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Podcast twice a week at www.startribune.com/sidcast. shartman@startribune.com