After trading first-round draft pick, Vikings will have to wait
By Dave Campbell
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — After months of exhaustive preparation, Minnesota Vikings scouts and officials will convene in the Winter Park war room for the first day of the NFL draft.
And wait some more.
"We’re going to bring some board games in, I think," director of college scouting Scott Studwell said. "Yeah, go for a run. Watch NASCAR."
After sending their first-round pick and two third-rounders to the Kansas City Chiefs for All-Pro defensive end Jared Allen, the Vikings have only one choice in the first 116 selections — the 47th overall pick, in the second round. This is their only scheduled opportunity to select on Saturday, though they’ll have five choices in rounds four through seven on Sunday.
"It takes a little pressure off," Studwell said.
Actually, it could add some. Studwell proudly pointed out that the roster is deeper than before, reducing the immediate need to fill holes through the draft and increasing the difficulty of a rookie making a significant first-year impact on the team.
Room for improvement
However, there are still areas to address — the offensive line, for example — and likely just one chance to do it with a high-quality player and not a project.
"Everybody in that room is going to be holding their breath, saying, ’I hope that guy falls. I hope that guy falls,"’ vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman said Thursday at a news conference to discuss the draft. "But you do that with every pick. I think there is pressure at every pick, because I don’t think you go through a draft and say, ’This is a fifth-rounder,’ or ’This is a sixth-rounder.’ Sure, you want to have the pressure on you to make sure you’re picking the best available player on that board."
Ah, the old best player available.
"We’re not targeting anyone or anything," coach Brad Childress insisted.
"There are too many variables. There are too many unknowns," Childress said.
The Vikings could always trade a future pick to move back into the first round, an option Spielman and Studwell refused to rule out.
Spielman did make an interesting remark, though, about the millions of dollars owner Zygi Wilf has doled out over the past year in new contracts for high-profile players. The Star Tribune , citing unidentified people with knowledge of the situation, reported in Thursday’s newspaper that Wilf asked his six investment partners to contribute a total of nearly $20 million to help cover the cost of Allen’s record contract.
"I think we’d have to get clearance from them to get more cash for a first-round pick," Spielman said,.
"But from a strategic standpoint and a football standpoint you never box yourself out of anything that can happen during the draft."
Keeping core players
What about trading a current player to obtain a first-rounder? Left tackle Bryant McKinnie, for one, saw his status become a bit tenuous when he was charged with battery in a brawl outside a nightclub earlier this year.
"I don’t know that there’s anyone on our roster that we would feel comfortable doing that with," Spielman said. "It’s hard enough to get all your guys in and to build up the depth and to get players that can line up."
Studwell echoed that belief in the team’s core.
"There are a lot of players on this board that we didn’t feel would be tremendous impact players on our football team, which to me is a credit to our pro department and our coaching staff," he said. "We don’t have nearly as many holes as we’ve had the last two years."
Offensive tackles, cornerbacks and wide receivers are three strong positions in this draft, so the Vikings will certainly consider those areas at No. 47.