What's With The Saints And Vikings?

The Vikings were thrilled to get Kenechi Udeze on the first round because they didn't expect either Udeze or Ohio State's Will Smith would be available. But many think they should have had their choice of both, if not for a draft-away-from-need approach from the Saints -- the second time in four years the Saints have drafted a player one pick ahead of the Vikings that they may have taken.

There are always draft day-related questions that fans ask, like how would things be different for the Vikings and the Titans if Tennessee had taken Randy Moss in the 1998 draft instead of wide receiver Kevin Dyson?

The same question could be posed about how different the Vikings and Saints franchises could be. In 2001, the Vikings sat with the 27th pick in the first round and seemed poised to grab running back Deuce McAllister. The Saints, who sat at pick No. 23, didn't have a first-round pick the two previous years because then-coach Mike Ditka mortgaged the future of the team on taking running back Ricky Williams.

So imagine the Vikings' surprise when, at pick No. 23 of the 2001 draft, the Saints take a running back in the first round and the Vikings select Michael Bennett.

A similar scenario played itself out Sunday. With one pick away from the Vikings 19th selection, both defensive ends the team coveted – Kenechi Udeze and Will Smith – were still on the board with only the Saints in between the Vikings and their pick. Of all the areas the Saints need help in, defensive end wasn't it. With Darren Howard and Charles Grant, the Saints already have two premier pass rushers. What they needed was a run-stuffing defensive tackle like Vince Wilfork or a cornerback like Chris Gamble.

Instead, the Saints again draft to a position of strength and deny the Vikings a player they may have wanted.

The Vikings war room is a group effort, but owner Red McCombs said the participants in the process were divided on whether Udeze or Smith was the better fit. It was clear that Udeze was Tice's choice if both were on the board, but he wouldn't elaborate on whether that was enough to turn the tide in Udeze's favor if both were available.

For the second time in four years, the Saints made a first-round pick that seriously affected the Vikings. In both cases, the Vikings still got players they coveted – Bennett and Udeze – but in both cases, their decision was made easier by the Saints, who seemingly draft to the Vikings' primary needs instead of their own.

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