Vikings complete quiet draft
Vikes start with safety, call Booty
in fifth round
By Kevin Seifert
MINNEAPOLIS — Like royalty swollen from a long feast, the Minnesota Vikings spent their weekend picking through leftovers. Lobster tail? Enough. Prime rib? Please. It gets stuck in our teeth.
The Vikings all but set their roster last week with the acquisition of defensive end Jared Allen, leaving them to nibble at the periphery for the duration of the NFL draft. They added only five players in producing the smallest draft class in team history: a backup safety, a likely third-string quarterback, a raw defensive tackle, a backup center and a punt returner.
If all goes as planned, none of those players will start a game for the Vikings in 2008. Only a couple project as future starters.
So it goes for a team that committed almost $70 million in guaranteed money this offseason to ensure it wouldn’t have to wait for players to develop.
"A lot of (this year’s approach) has to do with what we’ve been able to accumulate during the offseason," said Rick Spielman, vice president of player personnel. "The theme was a little bit different this year than it was last year, because there weren’t as many needs."
The Vikings, in fact, traded away almost half of their 2008 picks — without acquiring any future selections — to ensure they could get players who had a chance to make the roster. After giving up three picks for Allen, the Vikings moved out of the fourth round Saturday so that they could acquire Arkansas State safety Tyrell Johnson in the second.
Sunday, they surrendered their seventh-round pick to move up in the fifth round for USC quarterback John David Booty.
Johnson and Booty were the most recognizable names in a Vikings draft class that also included Florida State defensive tackle Letroy Guion, Notre Dame center John Sullivan and Jackson State receiver Jaymar Johnson. With all 22 starters and many of their backups essentially determined, the Vikings likely won’t have to put any of their draft picks on the field any time soon.
Booty figures to beat out incumbent Brooks Bollinger for the No. 3 job but almost certainly won’t move beyond that spot on the 2008 depth chart. Guion will play behind Pro Bowl tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams, if he makes the team, while Sullivan could replace starter Matt Birk — in 2009.
Johnson, meanwhile, is a 177-pound receiver who will have to win the punt return job to make the team.
In fact, the half-joke going around Winter Park suggested the Vikings shouldn’t bother pursuing a full class of college free agents because none of them would have a chance to make the team.
Speaking — seriously — before the draft last week, director of college scouting Scott Studwell said the Vikings eliminated more players than usual from their final draft board because "we didn’t feel (they) would be tremendous impact players on our football team."
Studwell added: "We don’t have nearly as many holes as we’ve had the last two years, and the competition and talent level on this team has gotten much better — which is a good thing.
"There aren’t as many players on this draft board, not to say that they’re not good prospects, but we feel because of the depth of our current roster, they’d have a tough time coming in here and impact our team."
That should lead to some interesting training camp battles. For the first time since taking the job in January 2006, coach Brad Childress previewed a new — but ultimately pleasant — headache.
"You hate to waive good football players," Childress said. "But hopefully when your talent level increases and your team gets better, you know that you are going to be having to get rid of and cut good football players. That beats the alternative, to be able to create competition.
"Hopefully, those players make those decisions real tough for us."