Vikings Show Interest In Combine Keepers

Massive amounts of information were piled up on more than 300 players at this year's combine and, although it has been shut down for a few days now, we are hearing more names the Vikings were looking at or talking about at some of their positions of need. Just when we thought it was over, we got more insight.

The names continue to trickle in from the combine.

In talking with scouts and others in attendance at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, we've heard a few more players who piqued the Vikings' interest during the weeklong session for draft-eligible college players.

The Vikings' desires for a wide receiver, cornerback, defensive lineman and outside linebacker have been well-documented. We'll go further with the specifics of players mentioned at each of those positions.

Cornerback: Matt Ware, a 6-foot-3, 213-pound junior from UCLA, is one player the Vikings had their eye on. He played both cornerback and safety in college, but played on the corner in 2003. However, some draft experts think he'll be a better safety prospect. He was named Freshman of the Year for the Pac-10 and first-team freshman All-America. He is a projected third-round pick.

Michigan's Jeremy LeSueur is another defensive back the Vikings were keeping watch over. He could play cornerback or safety, although he seems to be projected more as a corner. At 6-1, 199, he has the size NFL teams are looking for. LeSueur was very impressive at the Senior Bowl sessions and could be a second-round pick.

Another cornerback, USC's Will Poole, attracted the eye of the Vikings as well. He is considered a late first-round pick.

Wide Receiver: The Vikings weren't showing specific interest in any one the projected first-round wide receivers, but they are impressed with the depth of the position in the draft. However, while many of the upper first-round receivers are gifted with their hands and route-running, most of them don't have the stretch-the-field ability the Vikings have been seeking since before they struck out with Derrick Alexander. The faster receivers in the draft are Lee Evans (early second round) of Wisconsin and Texas Tech senior Carlos Francis (potential rookie free agent).

Clemson junior Derrick Hamilton, who also showed decent speed, is a projected late third-round pick, and the Vikings have inquired about him. He has Randy Moss-like size as well, at 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds. Another attractive quality for the Vikings would be Hamilton's ability to return punts, however one scout told us Hamilton is "elusive and slippery, but he's not tough." That doesn't bode well in head coach Mike Tice's book.

Defensive Line: Of course, we continue to hear the Vikings have a serious interest in Clemson's Donnel Washington, a big defensive tackle the Vikings lack if they lose Fred Robbins. We've been hearing this since the Senior Bowl and the whispers continue. At 6-6, 315, the junior has even a little more size than current Viking Kevin Williams and would give the Vikings many options in either a three-man or four-man defensive line rotation. He is a projected third-round pick.

Offensive Line: At some point the Vikings will have to find an adequate replacement for David Dixon, who might only have one more NFL season left in his massive body. That could be why we heard about the Vikings' interest in guard Chris Snee of Boston College. He is projected as a second-round or maybe even a third-round pick.

One final rumor from the combine had nothing to do with college players, but we were told the Vikings' new defensive coordinator, Ted Cotrell, is lobbying strongly for the acquisition of free-agent cornerback Antoine Winfield. Cotrell was Winfield's defensive coordinator in Buffalo for three seasons, and Winfield may be the top cornerback on the market that did not receive the franchise tag.



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