Cottrell Gets Another One Of His Men

New defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell has had a big influence on the new face of the Vikings defense, and he came away from the Auburn pro day impressed with linebacker Dontarrious Thomas.

Ted's excellent adventure in Minnesota continues.

New Vikings defensive coodinator Ted Cottrell had aleady made a splash with the Vikings prior to Saturday – headlined by the signing of cornerback Antoine Winfield to a $36 million contract.

His influence on the team continued to take shape as the Vikings used their second pick in the 2004 draft to take another defensive player – Auburn linebacker Dontarrious Thomas. Cottrell, who didn't have a chance to see much of Thomas at the Combine in Indianapolis, attended a private workout at Auburn and came away impressed.

"The former players down there just raved about the guy," Cottrell told VU. "(Buffalo's) Takeo Spikes and (the Jets) Mark Brown were down at the workout last month. I asked Mark ‘What do you think of him?' and he said, ‘Coach, he's the real deal."

Spikes and Brown weren't just bragging up a player from the alma mater. Thomas was a three-year starter – playing his sophomore and junior years at weakside linebacker and, after Brown graduated and went to the NFL, he was moved to middle linebacker.

Cottrell projects him back to his natural weakside position with the Vikings and, while not immediately ready to anoint him a starter, he had to catch himself a couple of times from doing just that.

"We need to find someone (at Will linebacker)," Cottrell told VU. "We think we got a guy who will eventually…I'll say eventually he'll be starting. But I don't want to just nail some of the guys here right now, but we're looking for a guy that…potentially…yes…he'll be starting."

The workout at Auburn was a real head-turner for Cottrell, who came back from the visit hoping the Vikings would improve their ranking of Thomas so he could fit in as a second-rounder. When the time came close, the Vikings weren't willing to wait – concerned that New Orleans or the Bengals might be on the same wavelength – and surrendered a fifth-round draft pick to move up two sots to get him.

"We wanted to make sure we had him," Cottrell said. "There was some talk of (Cincinnati interest), but really it was the Saints sitting there," Cottrell said of the mini-move up. "We knew they were interested in D.J. Williams in the first round, so we thought maybe they would take him. We just wanted to be sure we got the guy we wanted. He was the top defensive guy left, so we wanted to make sure we got him."

And with the move, the Vikings got another piece to a defensive puzzle that is seeing many of the missing filling in – making Ted's adventure even more excellent.

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