Vikings go big in draft

Tice admits losing some quickness and speed

Associated Press

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- These are not Dennis Green's Minnesota Vikings. That much was made clear during Minnesota's 2002 NFL draft this weekend.

Going away from the Green method of picking smaller, faster players who could excel on the Metrodome's turf, Vikings head coach Mike Tice went big with every pick.

"One of the things Frank and I have been talking about since Day One is getting bigger, especially on defense," Tice said, referring to Frank Gilliam, Vikings vice president of player personnel.


"We understand that we lose some quickness and some speed when you get bigger guys. But we tried to draft guys that were big and fast," Tice said.

The Vikings used their first-round pick to select gigantic offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie of Miami. The 6-foot-8, 343-pounder never gave up a sack in college.

"My senior year, every week a defense wanted to have its best game against Bryant McKinnie so they could get some kind of recognition," McKinnie said. "Basically, everybody is coming against me with their best game and I just had to weed them off."

In Round 2, Minnesota went with 240-pound Washington State linebacker Raonall Smith, who also runs a 4.5 40-yard dash. The Vikings wrapped up the first day with a mild surprise, picking South Carolina's Willie Offord, a heavy-hitting strong safety in the third round.

"I'm not trying to come in and be Superman," Offord said. "I'm just going to be physical. That's my game."

The Vikings stayed with the plan Sunday -- the draft's second day -- by picking four big players at positions they needed: defensive back (fourth rounder Brian Williams of North Carolina State), guard (fourth rounder Ed Ta'amu of Utah), linebacker (sixth rounder Nick Rogers of Georgia Tech) and defensive tackle (seventh rounder Chad Beasly of Virginia Tech).

Williams, who can play safety and cornerback, will help compensate for the losses of veterans Orlando Thomas and Dale Carter, defensive coordinator Willie Shaw said.

"He has good size, speed and the ability to hit people," Shaw said. "It's hard to coach a guy to hit people if he hasn't had it in his repertoire."


The Vikings added the 6-foot-1, 335-pound Ta'amu with their second fourth-round pick.

"He's a big, nasty football player," offensive line coach Steve Loney said.

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