Power Brokers Of The Draft?

While league sources believe the Vikings have their targets set in the first round, they also believe the team is in a position of power if they want to trade.

The names have remained the same for the past month when discussing who is believed to be at the top of the Vikings draft board. Whether it is Dewayne Robertson or Jimmy Kennedy or Terence Newman, the names always remain the same. One would venture to guess that the Vikings' selection will be a no-brainer, but why would they let us and the rest of the league get off that easy.

When all the dust settled in the 2002 draft, the Vikings had their sights set on defensive tackle Ryan Sims. There was the customary smoke and mirrors routine last year at this time, but early in the game of cat and mouse Sims appeared to be the target. With almost every front office in the league knowing what the Vikings intended to do with the seventh selection in the first round last season, their work was made easier.

As we sit here today, there doesn't appear too much suspense as to what the Vikings want to accomplish in the first round of the draft Saturday. Indications are they are locking in on the top two ranked defensive tackles in the draft, Robertson and Kennedy. Again, it just can't be this simple. Holding the seventh selection, Minnesota couldn't be showing their cards to the entire table this early in the game. Or could they be bluffing?

One area that has plagued the Vikings over the past two seasons is their brutal honesty. Many teams play their cards close to the vest. The Vikings have tried, but they consistently back themselves into the proverbial corner.

These are guys that you would love to play poker against. Then again, they may be the one that changes the complexion of the draft.

"The Vikings are in a position right now that could dramatically change the course of the draft. Everybody believes that they are locked in on Robertson or Kennedy, so if those two are off the board, a trade is expected," a league source said. "I don't believe that is necessarily the case. They really like wide receiver Andre Johnson, and the Vikings would be hard-pressed to pass on cornerback Terence Newman if he were available.

"Through all the posturing, New Orleans and the New York Jets are expected to make a push to move up within the top 10 picks in the draft. The Vikings and Cardinals are the teams most likely to deal down out of the teams in the upper portion of the draft."

Moving down towards the middle of the first round, the Vikings would have the ability to gain two first-round selections from one of those teams and still have the potential to select a defensive tackle, a cornerback, linebacker, or a wide receiver.

"In reality, trading down is the best option for a team like Minnesota, who is working hard on molding a team with the personality of Mike Tice. Depth is an issue for the Vikings in the defensive backfield, at linebacker, defensive tackle, and at wide receiver," an NFC personnel executive said. "With potentially three selections within the top 40 picks, they can adequately supplement the roster with players that should step right in and contribute on a high level."

"The only issue that I see with this direction is that the Vikings seem to reach a bit on players, if it comes down to them having these selections, they could go a long way in the development and future prosperity of the team."

All being said, the seventh selection in the draft may have greater value for teams other than the Vikings. More now than ever in today's NFL, a team like the Vikings has the ability to pull the wool over the eyes of a team that believes they are closer to the pinnacle of success than they really may be.

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