Jan 2, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys wide receiver Justin Blackmon (81) celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the second half against the Stanford Cardinal in the 2012 Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Oklahoma State Cowboys beat the Stanford Cardinal 41-38 in overtime. Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

2012 NFL Draft: Vikings Narrow No. 3 Pick Down to Three

On April 26, the Vikings will have the opportunity to draft the best non-quarterback in the 2012 NFL Draft. The only question: Is that player an offensive tackle, wide receiver or cornerback?

Jan 9, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; LSU Tigers cornerback Morris Claiborne (17) carries the ball during the first half of the 2012 BCS National Championship game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

General Manager Rick Spielman recently told the Pioneer Press that the pick is down to three: USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne and OSU receiver Justin Blackmon.

“What you’re saying is: ‘All these guys have equal ability,’” Spielman said via the Pioneer Press. “What do you want? Do you want the receiver? Do you want the tackle? Do you want the corner?’”

Kalil has long been considered the favorite, although, there have been many reports of the Vikings’ interest in other players at No. 3 like Claiborne, Blackmon and even Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd.

The rebuilding Vikings could certainly use the help of an elite player at many positions, but maybe none more than left tackle, where Kalil would fill in immediately as a massive upgrade over last year’s starter, Charlie Johnson.

Claiborne, on the other hand, would be a welcome addition to a woeful, ever-underachieving secondary. He would start from day one and be the best secondary player the Vikings have had in over a decade.

Nov 4, 2011; Boulder, CO, USA; Southern California Trojans offensive tackle Matt Kalil (75) before the game against the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field. The Trojans defeated the Buffaloes 42-17. Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

Then there is Blackmon, this year’s once-in-a-lifetime, can’t-miss wide receiver. Ever since Sidney Rice signed with the Seahawks, the Vikings receiving core has been nonexistent. The only true option, Percy Harvin, is far from reliable given his history of migraines and the combination of a small frame and reckless style of play.

Spielman may have said all three players are on equal footing, but nothing can be trusted when it comes directly out of an NFL front office at this time of year. Spielman could be posturing for trade value or simply blowing smoke.

Count Mike Mayock as one who isn’t buying what Spielman is selling. Mayock recently said the Vikings will choose either Kalil or Claiborne with the No. 3 pick.

No matter whom they choose, one thing is certain, the Vikings have a lot to gain, but even more holes to fill. As always, a trade also remains a possibility and something that could potentially benefit the Vikings much more in the long run. Spielman acknowledged he has received calls inquiring about a trade for the pick but will wait until draft day for the market to develop.


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Tags: Justin Blackmon Matt Kalil Morris Claiborne Rick Spielman

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