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NFL Draft Grades: Minnesota Vikings Considered 'Winners' After First Round

The Minnesota Vikings have probably had more than their fair share of blunders when it comes to the NFL Draft, but the 2012 rendition seems destined to be different. It may be too early to say that after just one round, but general manager Rick Spielman is getting high marks for Thursday's results.

NFL Draft grades were released by ESPN following the conclusion of Thursday's 32 picks and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Vikings were named the biggest winners for their decision to grab Matt Kalil and Harrison Smith after trading down to get the former and then back up to grab the latter.

Vikings general manager Rick Spielman proved to be the shrewdest among the wheelers and dealers. He was able to get three additional picks from the Cleveland Browns and still get the player the Vikings wanted -- left tackle Matt Kalil. The process started by getting the word out that they wanted to draft either Kalil or cornerback Morris Claiborne. The idea was to convince the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who started with the No. 5 pick, that they might be left with Claiborne if the Vikings selected Kalil and the Browns selected running back Trent Richardson. He also got word out that other teams were interested in picking No. 3.

Unlike the Bucs, the Browns knew the Vikings wouldn't take Richardson; they have Adrian Peterson on the roster. Although the Vikings didn't get a second- or third-rounder, the acquisition of a fourth-, fifth- and seventh-round pick gave them even more flexibility in this draft. That upped their draft total to 13 picks. As the round developed, the Vikings were able to move back into the first round in a deal with theBaltimore Ravens to get safety Harrison Smith. The Vikings came out with Kalil and Smith, and have 10 more choices over the final two days of the draft. It doesn't get much better than that.

It'll be a whole new ball game if they're able to pull that off with their 10 picks coming up over the next couple of days, but at least they started off better than most likely expected.

For more on the Minnesota Vikings, head over to The Daily Norseman. For more news and information on the NFL, head over to SB Nation's NFL hub and for more on the NFL Draft as the hours tick closer, head to SB Nation's specialized NFL Draft hub.

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Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.