When the Vikings didn't take Terrell Suggs with their first pick in this year's draft, some fans felt betrayed. They let Mike Tice know as much as it took him 30 seconds to silence the boos at the team's draft party.
But was he right? When the Vikes passed on Jevon Kearse, a collegiate who many draft experts said had to be in the right scheme to be a successful pro, in 1999, VU gave the Vikes the benefit of the doubt. They took a guy (Daunte Culpepper) that we knew wouldn't see the light of day as a rookie instead of a defensive difference-maker that could have given a team coming off a 15-1 season a shot at getting to the Super Bowl.
Much the same is coming out in the days since the 2003 draft ended. Many are saying the Ravens got the steal of the draft by getting Terrell Suggs with the 10th pick -- a player many Vikings fans (including a majority of VU staffers) thought wouldn't make it to the Vikings at No. 7. But, for those who say Suggs will be a Pro Bowler within two years, keep this in mind -- the team that took him, a squad with major d-line questions and Ray Lewis and Peter Boulware as linebackers, made Suggs a LB within minutes of drafting him.
Could Suggs be a Pro Bowl pick? Damn straight. Would he be one as a defensive end one-trick-pony with the Vikings? Not a chance. While Suggs may turn out to be a great pro and maybe even be a Lawrence Taylor-type pass rushing LB, he wasn't a fit for the Vikings. The Vikes would have taken Dewayne Robertson, Kevin Williams, Jimmy Kennedy, Johnathan Sullivan and Marcus Trufant before they would have taken Suggs. In the Vikings defensive scheme, he wasn't a fit.
That may be hard to swallow. VU has been accused in the past of being team slappies, but it's not true. We're probably more objective than any other local media source because we understand that serious Vikings fans are more happy in good times and more angered in bad times than the average fan.
Will the Vikings regret not taking Suggs? The only barometer will be similar to not taking Kearse in 1999 -- a pick everyone but Denny Green and his caddy Richard Solomon voted for. Green took Culpepper. He has the potential to be a franchise QB for a decade. In the Vikings' defensive scheme, Kearse may not have been nearly as productive.
In the end, we may never know how Suggs would have done with the Vikings -- he's being converted to a new position by design with the Ravens. What we do know is that he will be brought up just like Kearse was in 1999. Those comparisons stopped in 2000 when Culpepper got his chance to speak to the situation. Kevin Williams has a chance to be a guy who makes a difference. Let's allow him to shine or choke on his own merits. If anyone should be upset about not taking Suggs, it should be Cardinals fans -- who saw their team trade out of the No. 6 pick and take two players (Bryant Johnson and Calvin Pace) that both the Vikings and VU had rated as late-second round or third-round picks -- who are upset.
Time will be the final judge. If the Vikings were right in the first round (eventually) and in the rest of the draft, Tice and Scott Studwell can rest easy. If the team struggles with their newest draftees, Tice and Studwell will find other employment. On the whole, VU thinks the Vikes had a great draft. Let's give Tice and Co. a year to prove themselves right -- Suggs or no Suggs.
* The Saints are having their minicamp this weekend and one person who is absoutely in love with Todd Bouman is Saints coach Jim Haslett. Bouman, who is unfamiliar to Saints fans, will get a chance to be a starter in New Orleans. VU sources close to the Saints have said there are lingering concerns over the long-term health of QB Aaron Brooks' throwing shoulder. Haslett has said Bouman is picking up the Saints' system quickly. Don't be stunned if he's the starter in December -- whether the Saints are in the playoff hunt or not.
Was Suggs a Big Miss?
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