Finding the Fits -- Did the Vikings find a Sidney Rice clone in Childs?
Over the next 30 days, NFLDraftScout.com will look at the drafts of each of the NFL's teams in an attempt to "Find the Fits." As the original owners of the No. 3 overall pick, the Minnesota Vikings and GM Rick Spielman are next up. Spielman deserves credit for pushing the Cleveland Browns into swapping picks in the 1st round, but it could be a 4th round pick that proves the team's biggest steal.
As the original owners of the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft, the Minnesota Vikings are up as the next installment in NFLDraftScout.com's "Finding the Fits" series. The goal of this series is to identify one relatively unheralded player per team who would appear to be a particularly good schematic fit and therefore more likely to be a surprise contributor early in his respective pro career.
Considering the first round investment made a year ago in quarterback Christian Ponder and the presence of top notch pass rushers in the NFC North division it was easy to see that the Vikings would be intrigued by Southern Cal left tackle Matt Kalil. The fit was so obvious, that general manager Rick Spielman and his staff let it be known through various leaks to the media that the team had high grades on numerous players in an attempt to stir up interest in their pick.
Whether Spielman actually had another team willing to trade up to No. 3 overall to select Alabama running back Trent Richardson or not, he was able to convince the Cleveland Browns that he did, getting three picks (fourth, fifth and seventh round) from the Browns in exchange for moving down one spot -- where they took Kalil -- just as they would have if left at No. 3.
It was a compensatory pick, rather than their original (or Cleveland's) selection which resulted in Spielman and head coach Leslie Frazier adding former Arkansas wideout Greg Childs, but he, like the trade with the Browns, could ultimately be viewed as a steal.
Prior to tearing the patella tendon in his right knee in 2010, I gave Childs a second round grade -- higher grades than I gave the Razorbacks' star quarterback Ryan Mallett or running back Knile Davis. The 6-3, 219 pound Childs proved his straight-line speed at the Combine (where some had him as fast as 4.40) and during his Pro Day (4.41) in the 40-yard dash, as well as his explosiveness (41.5" vertical jump at Pro Day). This explosiveness was evident in his ability to stretch the field vertically on go-routes prior to his injury. At the time of his injury Childs was among the SEC's leaders with 46 catches for 659 yards and six touchdowns.
Having undergone surgery to fix his knee, Childs, frankly, should have taken a redshirt in 2011. Instead, he attempted to play through the injury, refusing to wear even a brace during spring practices. Unfortunately, he was a shadow of his former playmaking self last year catching just 21 passes for 240 yards and zero touchdowns.
The strong workouts lead me to believe that Childs has regained his prior explosiveness and therefore could be in position to surprise early in his career with the Vikings. His size, body control and soft, reliable hands remind me of former Viking (and current Seattle Seahawk) Sidney Rice.
Aiding Childs' cause is the fact that Minnesota already boasts a playmaker in slot receiver Percy Harvin but little else at the receiver position. Other than Harvin, at this point the Vikings two most productive wideouts are Michael Jenkins and Jerome Simpson. Jenkins, a first round pick by the Atlanta Falcons in 2004, has started 16 games only once in his career (2006). Not coincidentally, it is also the only season in which he scored more than four touchdowns in one season. Simpson has talent and is coming off a bit of a breakout season while with the Cincinnati Bengals, but is reportedly facing a three-game suspension from the NFL after he pleaded guilty to a felony drug charge. He signed a one-year deal with the Vikings on April 25.
It was another Arkansas wide receiver, Jairus Wright, who the Vikings thought highly enough to be the first receiver they drafted in 2012. The 5-10, 182 pound Wright, however, looks like a probable backup to Harvin as a slot receiver and possible returner. Because of his combination of size, speed and natural receiving ability, however, Childs offers more as a complementary piece to what the Vikings already offer.
The rest of the Vikings' picks:
1st Round - No. 4 overall - Matt Kalil, OT, Southern Cal
1st Round - No. 29 overall - Harrison Smith, SS, Notre Dame
3rd Round - No. 66 overall - Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida
4th Round - No. 118 overall - Jarius Wright, WR, Arkansas
4th Round - No. 128 overall - Rhett Ellison, TE, Southern Cal
4th Round - No. 134 overall - Greg Childs, WR, Arkansas
5th Round - No. 139 overall - Robert Blanton, CB, Notre Dame
6th Round - No. 175 overall - Blair Walsh, K, Georgia
7th Round - No. 210 overall - Audie Cole, ILB, North Carolina State
7th Round - No. 219 overall - Trevor Guyton, DL, California
Read more about all of the Vikings picks here.
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