2012 NFL Mock Draft: Minnesota Vikings Select...

GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 01: Dont'a Hightower #30 of the Alabama Crimson Tide attempts to tackle Chris Rainey #1 of the Florida Gators during a game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on October 1, 2011 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Representing the Minnesota Vikings, kcsno56 with the 35th pick in Arrowhead Pride's 2012 NFL mock draft...

Well, this is another one that's pretty easy. When choosing the Vikings for the Arrowhead Pride mock draft, I realized their pick in the 1st round would be mostly obvious. Matt Kalil fills a major need, and is also considered by most the top non-QB in the draft.

I was looking forward to a tough decision in round two, but the mockers here at AP have made it fairly easy for me, which I appreciate.

Yes, the Vikings are a team, with many needs, as evidenced by their 3-13 season. The biggest positional needs (not filled after Kalil) are probably: WR, S, MLB, CB and DT. But in reality, what the team needs most is a major influx of high end talent. This is why they'll be selecting the BPA when their pick comes around in round 2.

In the AP Mock, that player is undoubtedly Dont'a Hightower.

Now I don't think there is any way Hightower makes it to #35 and the Vikes, but if he does, they won't be late to turn in their draft card, they'll run that pick up and not risk missing out on possibly the best overall LB in the draft.

Quickly, let's go over need. The Vikings are losing their starting MLB E.J. Henderson to free agency...and really, they needed an upgrade anyway. It's a LB core with one very solid player in Chad Greenway and not much else. Erin Henderson, E.J's brother is the WLB, while last year Chad manned the SAM. Chad is versatile, and can play either the SAM or WILL, while some have projected Erin to slide inside to replace E.J.

Personally, I would keep Dont'a inside and let him be the tough interior MLB the defense desperately needs. I have read others project Hightower as a SAM LB in a 4-3...and while I will admit this is a possibility; I see it only as a positive while his versatility would give the team options if they want him at SAM. Either way he is a 3 down LB also capable of rushing the passer.

89Otis recently had a solid write-up of Hightower, comparing him to Kuechly. I also stole his highlight video (thanks). If you want more details on Dont'a, I suggest taking a look at his post.

Hightower is the kind of player I would love to see the Chiefs draft if they could trade back into the early 20's or late teens, and I do think he would thrive at SILB in our 3-4.

He is a top 15-20 talent in this draft, and I don't think there is any way he makes it past the Steelers at 24. BUT, if somehow he makes it to #35, the Vikings, would be crazy to pass on him, as he is just the type of playmaking leader the team needs in the middle of their defense.

***

Previously (with approval results)...

1. Indianapolis Colts - Baylor QB Robert Griffin III (42%)

2. Washington Redskins - Stanford QB Andrew Luck (72%)

3. Minnesota Vikings - USC OT Matt Kalil (89%)

4. Cleveland Browns - Alabama RB Trent Richardson (70%)

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - LSU CB Morris Claiborne (84%)

6. St. Louis Rams - Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon (91%)

7. Jacksonville Jaguars - Stanford G David DeCastro (33%)

8. Miami Dolphins - Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill (73%)

9. Carolina Panthers - South Carolina LB/DE Melvin Ingram (Forgot to do a poll)

10. Buffalo Bills - Stanford OT Jonathan Martin (73%)

11. Kansas City Chiefs - LSU DT Michael Brockers (35%)

12. Seattle Seahawks - Boston College LB Luke Kuechly (66%)

13. Arizona Cardinals - Iowa T Riley Reiff (88%)

14. Dallas Cowboys - North Carolina DE Quinton Coples (68%)

15. Philadelphia Eagles - Mississippi State DT Fletcher Cox (79%)

16. New York Jets - Alabama DE/LB Courtney Upshaw (83%)

17. Cincinnati Bengals - Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd (68%)

18. San Diego Chargers - Penn State DT Devon Still (42%)

19. Chicago Bears - Alabama CB Dre Kirkpatrick (51%)

20. Tennessee Titans - South Carolina CB Stephon Gilmore (63%)

21. Cincinnati Bengals - Georgia OL Cordy Glenn (64%)

22. Cleveland Browns - Arizona QB Nick Foles (21%)

23. Detroit Lions - Alabama S Mark Barron (67%)

24. Pittsburgh Steelers -- Memphis NT Dontari Poe (62%)

25. Denver Broncos -- Michigan State DT Jerel Worthy (64%)

26. Houston Texans -- Georgia Tech WR Stephen Hill (68%)

27. New England Patriots - North Alabama CB Janoris Jenkins

28. Green Bay Packers - Illinois OLB/DE Whitney Mercilus

29. Baltimore Ravens - LSU WR Rueben Randle

30. San Francisco 49ers - Stanford TE Coby Fleener

31. New England Patriots - USC OLB Nick Perry

32. New York Giants - Baylor WR Kendall Wright

33. St. Louis Rams - Ohio State LT Mike Adams

34. Indianapolis Colts - South Carolina WR Alshon Jeffery

35. Minnesota Vikings - Alabama LB Dont'a Hightower

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