While the Vikings made an unexpected run at the playoffs I embarked on a quest to provide grades to each of Rick Spielman’s offseason moves to help us understand what happened, how it worked out, and what we might have to look forward to this coming offseason.

The part about free agency can be found by clicking here.  Meanwhile, you can click here to see my grades for the first picks of the 2012 Draft.  Now, we move into the lower half of the 2012 Draft to see exactly how things played out.

4.39 Greg Childs, WR:  The Vikings wanted to pair up Childs with fellow Arkansas teammate Jarius Wright, hoping to jump start their passing game by infusing some youthful talent.  Unfortunately, that strategy got derailed when Childs suffered a freak injury during the preseason.  He tore both of his patellar tendons in one shot and his rookie season was over before it began.

Injuries caused Childs to fall to the fourth round which has some critics pointing out that you cannot expect much more when you take a guy with red flags about his health.  No NFL player has ever returned from this injury, but Childs remains devoted to his rehabilitation and sounds very confident that he will.

The Vikings got no production out of this selection in 2012 after an impressive training camp, but there may still be some hope for the future.

GRADE:  C

5.4 Robert Blanton, S:  I hated this pick when it happened because I felt like the Notre Dame product could not play cornerback in the NFL.  Apparently the Vikings agreed, as they drafted him to play safety instead.  Blanton got limited action at safety but did a very good job when Harrison Smith’s ejection and some injuries forced him into temporary action, and Blanton held his own pretty well on special teams.

Blanton actually played in thirteen games in his rookie season and accumulated 13 tackles.

We’re getting into the lower part of the Draft, so just the fact that he has been able to to stick to this roster is a fairly decent sign.

GRADE:  B-

6.5 Blair Walsh, K:  When the Vikings selected Walsh four picks after the Rams took Greg Zuerlin, I panned the move and claimed this was simply a panic pick from a team that really wanted the Draft’s best kicker.

As it turns out, they hadn’t panicked and they did get the Draft’s best kicker.

Walsh has exceeded every expectation possible after struggling in his final year of college.  He is among the top kickers in the NFL for touchback ratio.  He broke a rookie scoring record for the Vikings that was most recently set by Randy Moss.  He even shattered the NFL record for most 50 yard plus field goals in a season.  Walsh has been rock solid and while some might give all the credit to Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer for hand picking Walsh, Spielman deserves credit for trusting his staff.

GRADE:  A+

7.3 Audie Cole, LB:  After managing to make a preseason game interesting with a pair of interceptions returned for touchdowns (on consecutive plays) Cole instantly became a fan favorite.  However, he never really got a chance to do much during the regular season.

Cole played in five regular season games and the lone playoff game but was unable to register a stat being kept by the NFL.

Still, getting a linebacker that sticks to the roster all year long isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do in the seventh round.  Looking back, Vontaze Burfict might have had more of an immediate impact like he has for the Bengals, but Cole was a much safer bet.

Cole will compete once again next year, and perhaps with a year under his belt we will get to see more out of him in 2013.

GRADE:  B

7.12 Trevor Guyton, DE:  The late round flier was cut at the end of August and never really stood much of a chance of seeing the field.  This was clearly the worst pick of Spielman’s class, which is pretty passable considering how late into the Draft weekend we are getting by this point.

Again, Burfict might have been the better choice, or even tight end David Paulson.

GRADE: F

Conclusion:  The Vikings got a franchise kicker, by all appearances, in the latter part of their Draft.  They also got promising prospects at safety and linebacker, mixed with a possibly great comeback story from a talented receiver.

It is to be expected that this half of the Draft wasn’t as productive as the first, but anyone looking at this class as a whole has to admit that our new G.M. did a pretty fine job giving this whole rebuilding thing a kick in the pants.

Adam Warwas (Founder) is a case study in how the human male can allow a hobby to turn into a life-consuming obsession. After serving for about three years as the Editor at Vikings Gab, he decided to branch off on his own and start Vikings Territory, hoping someone might accidentally visit the site from time to time. Now, he is thrilled to present you with one of the most comprehensive and analytical Vikings sites that you are going to find. More than anything, he hopes you enjoy reading VT as much as he enjoys putting it together.

34 COMMENTS

  1. Strong case that a Pro-Bowl caliber player was drafted on each unit: Special Teams (Walsh), offense (Kalil), and defense (Smith). Not many drafts can accomplish that.

    Question for Adam/Brett or anyone… Vikes defense improved from 31st in points allowed in 2011 to 14th in 2012, the statistic that is still the “bottom line” for defenses. What percentage of impact for that came from the new DC, from the presence of Harrison Smith, and/or from other factors?

    • Good question.

      1. The defense improved, particularly in the secondary.

      2. The offense as a whole did a pretty good job of keeping the ball in our hands in terms of turnovers and time of possession. Obviously the run game was a huge part of that.

      3. The Vikings had one of the best averages in the NFL when it came to their opponents starting position. Walsh’s big leg, improved coverage units, and again the offenses ability to move the ball all contributed to that.

    • I think a lot of credit needs to be given to Alan Williams. Then I would give a good amount to Harrison Smith who I believed changed the attitude of our secondary. There were a lot of times where our secondary really stepped up and made plays they, in previous years, would not have made. We’re not there yet, though. Hope we address our lack of depth in the secondary this offseason and continue to develop some of our youngsters.

    • Wish Burfict would have been taken at some point, I was screaming in the draft lobby for us to take him over cole and guion.

        • I don’t remember who was screaming “No Burfict!” from the rooftops during draft time… but it was someone here! I can’t blame the coaching staff though… The guy really did look like a mess his final year in college. Not just attitude… just overall.

        • That is a little exaggerated. He was bad during his interviews and had questions about a few late hit penalties in college. To label him a headcase for that would be like labeling Percy a crack dealer cuz he got busted with drugs in college.

            • I understand, and in last december, Burfict was considered a top 20 pick, but fell to UDFA because he sucked in interviews and ran a slow 40. I don’t understand how nobody could take a 7th round flier on him(or Herzlich the year before for that matter).

              • That’s quite the fall and cost Burfict a ton of money in the process. Are there any guys like that in this years draft?

      • Great point Coach, I haven’t thought that far ahead just yet. Maybe Ricky will do a little wheeling and dealing and move up in a couple of rounds? I know it’s not likely and not Ricky’s style.

  2. Just a little bit of news to the next draft for those careing:
    – We lost both our 6th round picks to the cardinals for jefferson, but gained their 7th round pick .

  3. Really… can there be a greater insult to any of us? (well, other than discovering you’re related to Tomb)

  4. Good series, Adam. Not to discredit what Spielman did last draft (because he did an amazing job)… But the true test will come this year when you’re not picking at the beginning of every round. Very, very excited for this team.

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