Ranking all 10 Vikings draft classes during the Rick Spielman era

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Justin Jefferson
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Justin Jefferson /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Harrison Smith /

No. 3

2012 Draft Class

Don’t let the eyesore of the Vikings’ first selection in the 2012 draft class change your view of this class. It’s a good one.

Matt Kalil seemed like a homerun selection at No. 4 overall when he was named a Pro Bowler as a rookie. However, his PFF grades declined as the years wore on, and he has not played an offensive snap since 2017.

Minnesota’s second first-round pick was a trade-up with Baltimore to select Harrison Smith. Any time you draft someone who will be in the team’s Ring of Honor after retirement, and potentially the Hall of Fame, you did something right. Smith was the Vikings’ highest-graded defender by PFF in year one and has been elite ever since. His achievements speak for themselves.

2012 also saw the Vikings select Jarius Wright, who earned the nickname “Mr. Third Down” due to his emergence on third downs. He was a solid depth receiver taken in the fourth round.

Rhett Ellison was a good run blocker during his five seasons in Minnesota as well. Robert Blanton was a fifth-round selection who started opposite Harrison Smith in 2014, putting together a worthwhile career as a Day 3 pick.

Audie Cole was a training camp darling as a seventh-round pick, sticking around through 2016 for Minnesota.

Let us not forget, Blair Walsh was also drafted in 2012. While his career in Minnesota ended less than ideally, Walsh was a stud early on in his career, particularly as a rookie when he was first-team All-Pro. He never bounced back after going wide left from 27 yards against Seattle, but the four years before that brought more good than bad.

When you draft a future Hall of Famer and get some decent depth besides that, your draft class will be sitting pretty, even with a bust in the top five.