Signing Williams Top Priority

Last year, the Vikings were embarrassed by the inability to sign Bryant McKinnie until the regular season was half over. VU is being told no such holdout is expected with Kevin Williams despite the draft day snafu that dropped the Vikings two draft slots.

When Kevin Williams was selected by the Vikings with the ninth (the Vikes still say seventh -- until it comes to talking contract) pick of the first round, the crowd at Winter Park booed.

The booing continued as Mike Tice hit the podium and tried to explain that Williams was the one player the team coveted and would be the best fit for the team -- better than a pure nose tackle like Jimmy Kennedy or a blown up linebacker turned DE in Terrell Suggs.

With a month to go until Mankato starts buzzing with activity, Williams is on the front burner as far as contract talks go. While historically the Vikings always tend to start with the seventh-round pick and move their way up to No. 1, this year could be a little different.

Why? Because Williams impressed the coaching staff enough during mini-camp that he is going to be used as a defensive tackle in most of the base sets and slide to pass rush defensive end replacing Kenny Mixon on certain passing downs. With multiple assignments to grasp and different techniques to work on when lined up opposite a center as opposed to an offensive tackle, Williams needs to be in camp on Day One. More importantly, the Vikings need him in on Day One.

Whether the draft slotting gaffe becomes an issue will be part of the negotiation process. VU thinks the Vikings will likely have to pay Williams the slotted amount for the eighth pick as a compromise between the seven slot Williams' agent will claim (even though he also represents the actual seventh pick Byron Leftwich) or the ninth position the Vikings will claim.

The simple bottom line is that the Vikings have made a lot of improvement on defense and getting Williams signed and in camp on time is now the pressing priority. This time, though, it looks like it will get done and we won't see a repeat of the McKinnie holdout debacle.

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