Making the List, Checking It Twice

The rumor mill and trade talks continue as teams at or near the top of the draft start laying the groundwork for draft-day deals.

Over the past three years, the art of working the salary cap and targeting veteran players to fill glaring needs has altered how teams do business when it comes to the college draft.

There was a time not long ago when trades were almost unheard of -- especially when it came to big-name players. That, obviously, has changed. Even in free agency, the rules have turned around to let teams with a window of opportunity for greatness make the moves needed to be a champion. The Eagles have lost three straight NFC title games. The perception is that the team didn't have a great pass rusher after losing Hugh Douglas and that their wide receivers were suspect at best. What did they do? They got Pro Bowlers Jevon Kearse and Terrell Owens. The Vikings had a need at cornerback. What did they do? Sign Antoine Winfield to by far the largest contract ever given a player from outside the organization.

More and more, teams are looking at the risk/reward of the college draft and the unknowns that come with it as an opportunity to stock the 53-man roster with mid- to late-round picks and target the top couple of selections for immediate impact.

The result has been that teams are willing to move up in order to secure the player they want. Last year, the Saints packaged picks to move up to grab Jonathan Sullivan. Teams are doing the same as it pertains to draftees like Eli Manning and Robert Gallery -- willing to sacrifice the number of rookies taken to get the one player they truly covet.

So where does that leave the Vikings? Checking and double checking their own draft list while waiting to see how the draft shakes out. It's highly unlikely the Vikings will move up, unless it's to get one of the two defensive ends they really like -- and even then it likely wouldn't be unless one of them is still on the board at pick No. 15.

Don't expect the movement to slow down. By the time the first round is over, it won't be a shock if a dozen or more picks end up in the hands of teams that didn't originally own the pick. It's the nature of the NFL in the new millennium and more teams are buying into the concept.

* Former Vikings RB Robert Smith was part of an ESPN roundtable discussion about players coming out early for the NFL. Smith was part of the conversation with NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown.
* A VU source with the Jaguars said the rumor is floating around there that, after having DE Kenechi Udeze in for a workout, that team doctors believe he has a shoulder problem that will eventually require surgery. Legitimate problem or gamesmanship by the Jags? You decide.
* In the last 10 years, 39 wide receivers have been taken in the first round of the draft. That average of four a year is sure to go up after this season.

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