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  1. #1
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    At least the draft frenzy is over

    Posted on Sun, Apr. 30, 2006

    [size=18px]At least the draft frenzy is over[/size]

    St. Paul Pioneer Press

    It's over. Mel Kiper can go back into his coffin for another year. Suzie Kolber can quit squinting at us, which creeps me out. ESPN really should get her a bigger teleprompter. And Chris "Wally the" Berman can rest up for his next annoying assignment.

    The NFL draft is a phenomenon unlike no other. There are draft parties on every block. Local watering holes feature draft-day specials and football-themed extravaganzas. Otherwise-pious adults, eager for news about a fifth-round pick, wear earpieces during weekend services.

    Today things return to normal. Brad Childress is back in his bunker, peeking at the outside world through the air vent. Many Vikings fans, having swallowed a handful of aspirin, are back at work. And life goes on, barely, until training camp.

    Within the next few weeks, draft choices will be scrutinized much more objectively. On draft day, the most negative thing anyone says about a selection is that "he has potential," while early picks "will fit right in." The latter rounds are filled with "steals."

    Plus, there's always some talking head on TV who insists that the 197th overall pick was high on his board.

    The truth is that if top pick Chad Greenway quickly becomes a starting linebacker, and one other draftee makes an impact, it will have been a terrific draft for the Vikings. If your team can get two players, you should turn a cartwheel.

    On draft day, every NFL director of player personnel says it takes several years to determine if a team selected wisely or poorly. I used to think that was nonsense. Experience now teaches otherwise.

    A prime example was the 2003 Vikings draft, at the time widely hailed as maybe their best ever. And that was after bumbling around and dropping down a couple of spots by not turning in their first selection in time. All seven draftees made the team and all seven were expected to contribute. Three years later, the picture is much different.

    Top pick Kevin Williams has worked out well. Second-round pick E.J. Henderson still might. After drafting Greenway, who plays on the weak side, the Vikings probably will move Henderson back to middle linebacker. The big question is whether Henderson is fast enough to play that position in the cover 2 defense.

    The other five guys from the vaunted `03 draft: Nate Burleson, Hi-Ho Onterrio (Smith), Eddie Johnson, Mike Nattiel and Keenan Howry. So much for long-term impact. That draft doesn't look so special now.

    The 2004 draft didn't seem like anything out of the ordinary. Yet half a dozen players still are around and making some sort of contribution, including late-rounders Mewelde Moore and Rod Davis. In a couple of years, the `04 draft might be the one that people point to as pivotal.

    Last year's first-round pick, Troy Williamson, was a disappointment. Not that anyone is giving up on him, but he certainly has been no impact player.

    Think back to all the accolades that were dished out after he was chosen with the No. 7 overall pick. Recall all the fabulous highlight footage that flooded the airwaves on the day of his selection. Longtime fans probably remember the fabulous footage of Derrick Alexander and Duane Clemons, too. They'd better hope Williamson ends up contributing more than either of those two first-round picks.

    Williamson was chosen with a draft pick from Oakland. That pick and linebacker Napoleon Harris, who was terrible, came to Minnesota for Randy Moss. Williamson still might make it. But it goes to show that a proven player is almost always better than a draft choice.

    Make a mental note: The Vikings selected center Ryan Cook out of New Mexico with the draft choice they obtained for Daunte Culpepper.

    All this will provide plenty of water cooler fodder until hard evidence of playing ability becomes apparent during training camp. But the temperature setting of the conversations will be turned down, and logic eventually will prevail.

    Even though it happens occasionally, a diamond ring is rarely at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box. And the only "steal" pertaining to the Vikings these days refers to what Miami did to them in getting Culpepper.

    But at least the draft frenzy is over. All the TV analysts, dehydrated from so much yapping, are taking fluids intravenously. They'll be OK in a couple of months. The Vikings probably will be, too.

    At least the draft frenzy is over

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  2. #2
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    Re: At least the draft frenzy is over

    [size=18px]A draft day of hellos, goodbyes[/size]

    They cut against the grain, found a few starters and took some chances. Say this, if nothing else, about the Vikings' first draft weekend under a restructured front office: They were not afraid to move boldly for the players they wanted.

    Kevin Seifert, Star Tribune
    Last update: May 01, 2006 – 5:56 AM

    They cut against the grain, found a few starters and took some chances. Say this, if nothing else, about the Vikings' first draft weekend under a restructured front office: They were not afraid to move boldly for the players they wanted.
    The Vikings wrapped up the affair Sunday by trading their sixth-round pick to Philadelphia for veteran offensive lineman Artis Hicks, whom coach Brad Childress immediately pegged as his starting right guard. The deal also involved swapping fourth-round picks, and with the Eagles' No. 127 overall slot, the Vikings took a flyer on troubled Purdue defensive end Ray Edwards.

    In the fifth round, they selected safety/linebacker prospect Greg Blue from Georgia and later moved owner Zygi Wilf to a rare moment of bravado.

    "Combined with the free agent period and the draft this weekend," Wilf said, "I don't think there is another team that has improved as much as we have. ... We got everything we needed to get. The team has improved considerably. We have tremendous talent here now for our coaching staff."

    The Vikings had sent their seventh-round pick to San Diego last fall in a trade for offensive lineman Toniu Fonoti. But Sunday's moves still gave them a total of seven new players for the weekend -- including a new weak-side linebacker in Iowa's Chad Greenway, perhaps the quarterback of the future in Alabama State's Tarvaris Jackson and a player in Edwards who could prove a surprise if he straightens out a personality conflict that scuttled his career at Purdue.

    The team's aggressive approach was no clearer than Saturday night, when they traded both third-round picks to Pittsburgh in order to draft Jackson with the No. 64 overall pick. Speaking Sunday for the first time about the move, Childress said: "When you see what you want at a quarterback position, you need to go get it.

    "That is exactly what I see with Tarvaris Jackson," Childress added. "A guy who is a piece of clay and has all the skills. ... He has all the things that we are looking for, and he is wired right. That is important for a quarterback."

    Childress said Jackson has a "great throwing motion" and has a "flat-line" personality. He would not estimate how many seasons it will take to develop him, but Childress compared Jackson to a sponge.

    "You are talking about a guy that never had a quarterbacks coach [at Division I-AA Alabama State]," he said. "He's got the skills. What can he do with coaching?"

    Childress' staff will have plenty to work on. Jackson, fellow second-round pick Ryan Cook of New Mexico, Edwards and Blue all qualify as players with more to learn than typical rookies. The Vikings will either teach Cook a new position or figure out a way to use a 6-7 center in front of a shorter quarterback. Edwards faces daily cajoling from hard-nosed defensive line coach Karl Dunbar, and Blue either will learn the linebacker position or improve substantially in his pass coverage if he makes the team.

    The Vikings now turn their attention to a full-roster minicamp May 12-14. The acquisitions of Hicks and Greenway seem to leave them with only two real question marks among their 24 starting positions (including kickers). Dontarrious Thomas and E.J. Henderson are among the candidates at middle linebacker, while there is no clear candidate for punter as long as Chris Kluwe is rehabilitating a torn ligament in his right knee.

    Childress, however, said he will spend the rest of the spring and summer evaluating the roster and does not appear ready to confirm many of the Vikings' apparently locked-in starters.

    "Every day that I come to work, I am looking to see how we can make this football team better," Childress said. "It doesn't make any difference if it is in the weight room, the meeting room, or with a draft pick or somebody that was on the waiver wire. You have to look at that every single day as you travel through this thing. Because the minute you blink or the minute you get satisfied is the minute that somebody is moving ahead."

    A draft day of hellos, goodbyes

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

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