Posted on Tue, Apr. 20, 2004

VIKINGS REPORT: Vikings' plans change with Williams off list


Pioneer Press

The Vikings' draft plans might have been directly altered Monday when the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the draft eligibility of Southern California receiver Mike Williams.

While there is still a remote chance Williams could be reinstated before this weekend's draft, it's more likely he and Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett will be eligible in a supplemental draft this summer, if at all. The Vikings coveted Williams and would have seriously considered him if he were available when they pick No. 19 Saturday. Now, with the NFL calling teams to tell them to take Williams off their boards, it causes a domino effect.

Williams likely would have been a top-15 pick, but his exclusion means receivers Reggie Williams (Washington) and Michael Clayton (Louisiana State) will move up. It also means teams such as the New York Jets (No. 12) and the New Orleans Saints (No. 18) might use their picks on someone else who would have fallen if Mike Williams were in the draft. Both teams might look at Miami linebackers Jonathan Vilma and D.J. Williams, both of whom the Vikings like.

Still, Vikings coach Mike Tice said he isn't concerned.

"We'll take (Williams) off the board and move everybody up," he said. "We think we'll still get a targeted player because the draft is deep enough."

Tice also said it looks more likely the Vikings will keep their pick. Several teams want to trade down, decreasing the odds for a Vikings deal.

Henderson DUI case pending: New starting middle linebacker E.J. Henderson will appear in court in Harford County, Md., on several charges, including drunk driving, stemming from an April 10 arrest.

Henderson is the third of the Vikings' seven 2003 draft choices to be arrested for drunk driving in the past nine months. Linebacker Mike Nattiel was arrested in July, and defensive tackle Kevin Williams was arrested in November. Veteran defensive end Kenny Mixon has twice been convicted of DUI in less than two years and is currently serving a 30-day sentence in the Hennepin County work release program.

Maryland doesn't release blood-alcohol levels of individuals arrested for DUI, but a police spokesman said Henderson was over the state's legal limit of .08. Henderson — who had DUI charges dropped while at the University of Maryland —also was charged with driving while impaired, speeding, failure of driving in a single lane and negligent driving.

Henderson was stopped after making an unsafe lane change while driving 82.5 mph on Interstate 95. All of the charges are misdemeanors.

This season, Henderson will take over for Greg Biekert, who is expected to retire in May.

Johnson talks to other teams: Ken Harris, agent for punter Eddie Johnson, says the Vikings let him "survey the landscape," and Harris spoke to four teams. Johnson is looking for work after the Vikings signed veteran free agent Darren Bennett.

Harris said he doesn't expect the Vikings to trade Johnson before the draft.

The Vikings have informed Harris that Johnson will not be released, and he will compete with Bennett for the job in training camp.

Briefly: Vikings strong safety Corey Chavous will continue his work as a draft analyst for ESPN this weekend in New York.