Who The Vikings Like

Just who will the Vikings select with their first-round pick? That will obviously depend on who is selected before it is their turn. But after visiting with scouts and other sources near the war room, we've been told which players they like and why. And there is breaking news that is almost certain to change up many teams' first-round thoughts.

Some of what we've learned after visiting with team sources about this weekend's draft has been widely speculated. Other insight is new and valuable information.

Let's start with the obvious. Two of the Vikings' top three players are defensive ends Kenechi Udeze of USC and Will Smith of Ohio State. Both are talented, offering different skill sets, and would fill a very public need. The third on that list — Arkansas offensive tackle Shawn Andrews — hasn't been discussed much in terms of the Vikings.

The Vikings don't think they'll be able to get any of those three at No. 19, and Philadelphia is said to be making a play to move up and take Andrews. The Eagles have 10 picks in this weekend's draft and would be willing to part with multiple picks to make that move. The Vikings aren't likely to trade up for two reasons — signing bonus money required to sign the higher picks and they feel there are too many good players in this draft to mortgage away top picks.

Who else do the Vikings like that they don't think will be available with the 19th pick? Miami linebacker D.J. Williams is one and South Carolina cornerback Dunta Robinson is another. For those that have followed Viking Update's draft chat transcripts, Jonathan Vilma was a player the team liked at least as much as Williams. However, we have been told that Vilma has a pre-existing knee injury that was confirmed by two other league sources tonight. The Vikings have found out about it and that could keep Vilma from wearing purple. In fact, it could drop Vilma to late in the first round or even early in the second round.

Now, on to who could be available that the Vikings covet.

Sources have told us that they like three wide receivers — Rashaun Woods of Oklahoma State, Lee Evans of Wisconsin and Michael Clayton of LSU— all who could be available at 19. Woods is the precise route runner with great hands, Evans is the speedster and Clayton can stretch a defense and is a great blocker, which is an asset the Vikings are particularly fond of.

Still, Mike Tice likes big players, and if Andrews isn't available, the team also likes Miami's Vernon Carey as a replacement for right guard David Dixon. While TFY Draft Preview thought Carey was a better right tackle in 2002 than he was a guard in 2003, he has the talent to play either and could be starting midway through his rookie season, if not earlier, if the Vikings draft him.

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