Six Days, Five Signings?

If you're worried about the Vikings not signing all of their picks in time for camp, it's not exactly a new feeling, is it?

It's countdown-to-camp time. The Vikings have six days to their first practice on Saturday morning, but they still have five of their seven draft picks left to sign.

Call it par for the course for the Vikings, who always seem to wait until after the Fourth of July week to start any meaningful discussions with the agents of draft picks and often don't get the majority of their draft picks signed until the week leading up to training camp.

So far sixth-round linebacker Mike Nattiel and seventh-round wide receiver Keenan Howry are under contract. Neither is likely to contribute much beyond special teams, Nattiel covering kicks and punts and Howry having a chance to become the punt returner and potentially the kickoff returner.

So who is next on the Vikings' list? With Minnesota and other NFL teams, negotiations typically start with the later-round picks and work their way to the first-rounder (the Packers signed their first-round pick, linebacker Nick Barnett, just in time for the full workouts for their team this week).

Third-round wide receiver Nate Burleson has been close to finalizing a deal for days, so he would appear to be next in line. So would sixth-round punter Eddie Johnson. Then we could see second-round linebacker E.J. Henderson get under contract before Tom Condon's clients -- fourth-round running back Onterrio Smith and first-round defensive lineman Kevin Williams -- get done in the last days before practices start on Saturday.

Unfortunately for the Vikings, those picks who are expected to contribute the most -- Johnson, Williams and Smith -- are among the five remaining to sign.

Six days and five picks remain. The Vikings are on the clock. Let's hope they get their paperwork in on time.



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