Reviewing the Vikings' drafts: 2012

April, 3, 2014
Apr 3
9:55
AM ET
MINNEAPOLIS -- We're continuing our review of the Minnesota Vikings' recent draft history today, with a look at how the team did in 2012:

First-round pick: Nos. 4 (Matt Kalil, OT, USC) and 29 (Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame)

Number of picks: 10

Total Draft AV: 57 (5th; Seattle was the best with an 83 AV)

Highest player AV: Kalil, 18 (T-11th; Seattle's Russell Wilson was the best with a 31 AV)

How they did: It seemed obvious before the draft the Vikings were enamored with Kalil, who had the potential to be a fixture at left tackle for the next decade. But general manager Rick Spielman's sleight-of-hand allowed the Vikings to trade back from No. 3 to No. 4 in the draft and still get Kalil. And after he got three extra picks from the Cleveland Browns, Spielman traded back into the first round to pick Smith. Kalil has already been to a Pro Bowl, Smith has the potential to be a star, and the strength of the first round alone made this a strong draft -- to say nothing of the Pro Bowl kicker Spielman found in the sixth round.

Pivotal pick: The Baltimore Ravens had talked with several teams before the draft about trading out of the 29th overall pick, and after Spielman had made his trade with the Browns, the Vikings were in possession of 13 picks. That gave them the flexibility to send a second- and fourth-rounder to the Ravens and select Smith after the Green Bay Packers -- who were in need of safety help then, as they are now -- passed on him to select USC linebacker Nick Perry. Smith intercepted three passes as a rookie, returning two of them for touchdowns, and had two interceptions in 2013 before turf toe sidelined him for much of the year. He's a physical, instinctive safety who appears to have a lofty ceiling if he can stay healthy.

Best pick: Either of the first-rounders would be in contention for the title, but simply for value, we'll give the nod to kicker Blair Walsh, whom the Vikings drafted in the sixth round to replace Ryan Longwell after special teams coordinator Mike Priefer gave Walsh high marks for an on-campus workout at Georgia. Walsh went 10-for-10 from more than 50 yards as a rookie, became one of the league's best kickoff men and made the Pro Bowl. According to Pro Football Reference, only three players drafted after Walsh (who went with the 175th overall pick) have an Approximate Value as high or higher than the kicker's AV of 9.

Worst pick: A nasty injury -- two torn patellar tendons at the end of the Vikings' 2012 training camp scrimmage -- meant things didn't pan out for fourth-round receiver Greg Childs in Minnesota. Third-round cornerback Josh Robinson struggled mightily last season, though much of that was due to the Vikings miscasting him as a slot cornerback. He'll get a chance to turn things around in his third year with the team.

Ben Goessling

ESPN Minnesota Vikings reporter

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