Prior to the draft, the Vikings front office said two things about their plans -- they wanted to acquire two or three potential starters but were going to take the best athlete available.
The second part of that plan came to fruition in the fourth round of the 2003 draft, when coach Mike Tice announced the drafting of RB Onterrio Smith, a player many draft analysts thought was a second-round prospect but the Vikings had rated as a first-rounder.
"On our draft board, we rated the top 32 players as first-round prospects," Tice told VU. "Onterrio Smith was the fourth player we drafted that we had listed as first-rounders. We're very excited about getting him."
Tice said Smith gives the Vikings an ideal backup who will likely be handed the kick return job immediately, and he has a chance to get into the running back rotation sooner than later.
"This wasn't a pick that was the result of any concerns over Michael Bennett's injury," Tice told VU. "Michael is our starter and he's ready to start jogging now. His progress is coming along very well. But Smith was a player we think has a tremendous future and he is a nice insurance policy."
What intrigues the Vikings the most about Smith is his big-play ability. -- which can make any play a run, reception or return that could go the distance. It was this ability that him rated as the No. 1 RB on the Vikings' internal draft board.
"He was our No. 1 running back," Tice told VU. "We had him first and (Penn State's) Larry Johnson second as guys who could go in the first round. We're very happy he stayed around for us to get him this late in the draft. He's a gift that will give us more depth at another position."
Onterrio Smith: Vikings' Thoughts
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