Draft Trade Potential Going Up

If you believe the early chatter from Vikings draft insiders, there's no reason to think the Vikings won't trade down with their No. 7 pick.

The Vikings are spending today like most of the rest of the world, watching the Super Bowl and seeing if the Cinderella shoe still fits for New England or, as expected, the Rams feast on girlish-tasting pumpkin pie.

But, the Vikings have been spending more time already looking at the draft than they have in previous years, since there's no playoff competition to get in the way.

VU continues to hear that, unless the Vikings alter their thinking and go with a talent-based first-round pick, the Vikings will trade down to get a player at the position they want and try to stockpile a pick or two to build for the future.

The reason for this is two-fold from what we're being told. The first is less obvious. The Vikings haven't picked this high in the era of mammoth rookie contracts brought about by free agency. The closest the team came was with Daunte Culpepper at No. 10 and, aware that he was going to be sitting at least one year, the Vikings were able to work out a cap-friendly deal. This may not be true this time around, and the Vikings may not be willing to spend a lot of money on one player who isn't a glove fit with their needs.

That's where problem No. 2 comes in. The Vikings have targeted defensive end and outside linebacker as their top draft priorities. Therein lies the problem. Neither position is deep at the top level of players. At defensive end, Julius Peppers likely won't make it past Carolina at the No. 2 pick and the consensus early pick for the next best DE is South Carolina's Kalimba Edwards, but many see him as a stretch at the No. 7 pick.

Outside linebacker is even a bigger question mark. Northwestern's Napoleon Harris is seen as the best NFL fit, but is also a big push to be taken as high as No. 7 overall. Beyond Harris, there may be no other OLB's taken on the first round.

So this leaves the Vikings with potentially three options: 1. Take the best athlete available at No. 7 regardless of position; 2. Take Edwards or Harris, even though there are better pro prospects on the board; 3. Trade down.

We continue to hear No. 3 is going to be a viable option, especially as the teams ahead of the Vikings finalize their draft boards. Someone will be available at No. 7 that another team covets and that could translate into a couple of picks this year and perhaps even a No. 1 or 2 next year if the gun is to the head of the team in question. That, combined with the much more tolerable cap numbers for players taken in the second 10 picks of the draft as opposed to the first 10 makes trading the pick something the Vikings are going to seriously consider for the overall well-being of the franchise.

* As reported earlier, Daunte Culpepper didn't play in Terrell Owens' celebrity basketball game, but he is running and is hopeful to be ready for the team's May mini-camp.
* One minor Vikings connection came out of Saturday's Hall of Fame announcements. Dave Casper, who will undoubtedly go in as a Raider, spent a small portion of the end of his career with the Vikings.
* Alan Page will play an important role in today's Super Bowl. With a theme of national pride and freedom, Page, the chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, will be part of a group of former NFL greats reading excerpts from the Declaration of Independence as part of the Super Bowl pregrame show.
* The problems continue in Tampa Bay, where the firing of Tony Dungy is seen as more of a joke each passing day. Now it's come down to the moronic Glazer brothers, who represent ownership in a Dumb and Dumber style, and GM Rich McKay. McKay knows the success of the Bucs has come from defense and wanted Baltimore defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis as the new head coach. The Glazers want Jon Gruden, even though he still is under contract with the Raiders and would likely cost a first-round draft pick to get. Soon, you'll see all the Bucs front office people in clown suits coming out of a Volkswagen.

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