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Updated: April 26th, 2012 9:39pm
Vikings' pick at No. 29: Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith

Vikings' pick at No. 29: Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith

by Judd Zulgad
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Matt Kalil wasn't the Minnesota Vikings' only draft pick on Thursday night.

General manager Rick Spielman said after that selection he might use some of his 12 remaining picks as ammunition to get another selection in Round 1, and the Vikings did exactly that, acquiring the No. 29 overall pick from Baltimore and selecting Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith.

The Ravens reportedly received the Vikings' second-round pick (No. 35 overall) and the No. 98 overall pick in the fourth round.

Like Kalil, Smith (6-2, 213) figures to step in immediately as a starter for a Vikings team in desperate need of safety help. He played in 51 games and started 47 over four seasons with the Irish, recording 309 tackles (187 solo), seven inteceptions, 28 pass break-ups and 3½ sacks.

"We worked with Harrison down at the Senior Bowl for a week, got to know him," said Spielman, whose coaching staff guided the North squad at the college all-star game in Mobile, Ala., last winter. "He is an extremely talented safety, has very good range, very good size. I know he had seven interceptions as a junior, made a lot of big plays this year but didn't come up with some of the interceptions.

"But after our coaches had worked with him for that week ... (he's) extremely intelligent, great football passion, loves to play the game and it's fitting the criteria that we're looking for in an extremely high-character type player that's not only going to be a great player for us on the field but off the field as well."

Smith knew it was possible he would get picked in the first round but didn't want to put too much pressure on himself. "I just watched (the draft) with friends and family and just kind of waited," he said. "If I didn't go, no big deal, just come back the next day and watch again. I was just watching and kind of just waiting."

Smith became familiar with both the free and strong safety positions at Notre Dame, which used a Cover-2 defense much of the time.

That is key because the Vikings safeties must be interchangeable and, of course, the team also uses a Cover-2 scheme. "I ended up coming down in the box, covering tight ends and then also playing deep halves, deep middle of the field," Smith said. "So it was really a strong-safety type role and free-safety type role."

Spielman said the Vikings hadn't talked with Smith much since the Senior Bowl, but that didn't bother the safety. "I guess it went well down there," Smith said. "I really like playing for those guys and took to their coaching and I think we kind of got a good feel for each other." 

The trade that landed Smith for the Vikings leaves the team with 10 picks over the remaining six rounds of the draft, but only one on Friday, when Rounds 2 and 3 will take place. It's a third-round pick, No. 66 overall.

The numbers

• 40-yard dash: 4.58 seconds.
• 10-yard dash: 1.58 seconds.
• 20-yard dash: 2.57 seconds.
• 20-yard shuttle: 4.14 seconds.
• 3-cone drill: 6.64 seconds.
• Vertical jump: 34 inches.
• Broad jump: 10 feet, 2 inches.
• Bench press: 19 reps of 25 pounds.
• Arms: 32 5/8 inches.
• Hands: 10¼ inches.
• Wingspan: 76 7/8 inches.

The tape

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
In this story: Brandon Fusco, Charlie Johnson