Viking Update Mock Draft — Version 8.0

The draft is just around the corner and still there have been relatively few trades, but many teams continue to ponder jockeying for position. If they do or if major needs are filled via free agency, we'll have another update. Until that time, we offer version 9.0.

2002 NFL


OVERVIEW: In the final days of the pre-draft talk and hype, several keys still have been unresolved. Some teams are still trying to solidify their last testing of the free agent waters before making the big plunge into the college ranks and others are eyeballing the potential for major trades.

Last year, 14 of the 31 first-round picks were traded. The year before, 15 picks changed hands. With just a week to go before the draft, only two picks in the first round didn’t belong to their original owners and neither of them was the result of a team looking to move to get a specific player — Tampa lost its pick to Oakland for Jon Gruden and Miami forfeited its pick to the Saints to cure its running ills by acquiring Ricky Williams.

Expect those numbers to change, but perhaps not until draft day itself. With all four of the main defensive tackles expected to be off the board by the 12th pick, teams may be desperate to move into one of the Nos. 5-12 slots to get a shot at one of them, while other teams may be looking to package a deal to get to one of the top offensive tackles, QB Joey Harrington or safety Roy Williams.

This could be a huge impact to the Vikings, who will be sitting at No. 7 in the catbird seat to entertain offers from teams looking to move up. If they can find two or more teams to get into a competitive bidding war, the 15 minutes they’re on the clock could be enormous.

What does this mean? If the trades come before draft day, you can see this version of the mock draft torn up and result in changes to many picks. For our sake, we hope the deals start coming on April 20, not April 17.

Pos. Team 2001 Record Opp. Record Opp. Pct.    
1. Houston 0-0    
David Carr, QB, Fresno State — Everyone will get at least one pick right in this year's draft, as the Houston Texans have already agreed to a contract with Carr. Like most expansion teams, they believe to build around the quarterback position to begin the franchise on its first baby steps. This has been an almost unanimous pick for the last month-and-a-half. Now it's just official.
2. Carolina 1-15 147-109 .574    
Julius Peppers, DE, North Carolina — A tremendous athlete, the Panthers could get some offers for this pick, but keeping him close to home will help a franchise in dire need of quality players and a reason to put asses in the seats. The name-recognition in the Carolina area for Peppers can do nothing but help that out.
3. Detroit 2-14 149-107 .582    
Quentin Jammer, CB, Texas — This is the first pick that could go off the board in different directions. If QB Joey Harrington has impressed the Lions, he could be the selection. OT Bryant McKinnie could be the cornerstone of the offensive line for years to come if he's selected. However, the Lions secondary was the main reason for the team's collapse last year and Jammer is that good to warrant selection this high. The Lions pick at this spot will have a ripple effect on the rest of the round, since it could go in several different directions.
4. Buffalo 3-13 136-120 .531
Mike Williams, OT, Texas — While we still believe that Bryant McKinnie is the safer bet at this selection, Buffalo apparently wants Williams more and, with his massive size, will be a punishing run blocker that gives the Bills an immediate improvement on offense — something the team desperately needs at this point in the overhaul of the franchise.
5. San Diego 5-11 124-132 .484
Bryant McKinnie, OT, Miami — The love for the Chargers continues. After working out a trade to avoid using the top pick on LaDainian Tomlinson, he was there at No. 5 and QB Drew Brees was available with the first pick on the second round. The magic remains, as the player the Chargers had targeted from the end of the 2001 regular season is available to them at No. 5.
6. Dallas 5-11 128-128 .500
Roy Williams, S, Oklahoma — It's hard to imagine a safety going at No. 6, but as wrestler Triple H is known to say, he's that damn good. A dominating safety is rare to find coming out of college, but Williams fits that bill. He may go earlier than this, he may go later, but with the expensive signing of La'Roi Glover, the Dallas need for a DT has dropped considerably. Don't be surprised if Oakland tries to slide in here with a trade of their top two picks. The release of George Teague has created a void that needs to be filled on a young, improving defense, and Williams would be a nice fit.
7. Minnesota 5-11 134-122 .532
Ryan Sims, DT, North Carolina — The Vikings, if they stay in this spot, are looking for a sure thing, and Sims will likely fit that mold as well as anyone. With a new coach in Mike Tice, he's looking for a player that is willing to be taught, and Sims made a lot of points at the Senior Bowl for just that quality. Once again, if Bryant McKinnie or Mike Williams would happen to fall this far, the Vikings would be hard-pressed not to get a franchise OT to protect Daunte Culpepper and, in turn, give him more time to connect with Randy Moss. But, if the Vikings have their choice of the Big Four defensive tackles sure to go off the board quickly, it looks like Sims will be the guy they choose.
8. Kansas City 6-10 132-124 .516
Albert Haynesworth, DT, Tennessee — Up until the Chiefs signed Johnnie Morton, they were almost a lock to take a wide receiver — most likely Donte Stallworth. This isn't to say Dick Vermeil won't go after a WR here, because he could always say, "We never expected he would still be on the board with this pick," but it now looks like K.C. will address WR depth later in the draft. Haynesworth is the biggest enigma of the first round — some think he will go ahead of teammate John Henderson while others think the reason he was so successful was that opponents double-teamed Henderson. A guy like Haynesworth needs to go to the right team to be successful and Vermeil could be the "touchy, feely" family-oriented coach Haynesworth needs to coax the best effort out of him.
9. Jacksonville 6-10 134-122 .531
John Henderson, DT, Tennessee — The Jags could go in several directions with this pick, but the run on defensive tackles continues. The Jags could look to take a reach on Levi Jones to replace Tony Boselli, take a shutdown corner in Phillip Buchanon or get into the WR sweepstakes and get a burner to line up alongside Jimmy Smith. However, if they stay here — and that could well be a big if — the Jags will have to go to the defensive front on this pick, because they can still find talent at OT, CB or WR in the coming rounds, while that won't be true about defensive tackle.
10. Cincinnati 6-10 136-120 .531
Joey Harrington, QB, Oregon — The Bengals will be torn between hopefully solving the problems they've had at quarterback by taking Harrington and giving the faithful something to have hope in or getting Buchanon as a defensive stud who can help keep the defense competitive when the offense is struggling. All along, we've had the Bengals taking Buchanon, primarily because we were convinced early on Buffalo would grab Harrington, but, faced with the chance to get a franchise QB — even if he did replace Akili Smith at Oregon — the Bengals hope history will repeat itself, with better results.
11. Indianapolis 6-10 144-112 .563
Phillip Buchanon, CB, Miami — While Tony dungy may be tempted to take DT Wendell Bryant in his yen for having up-front pressure, to have a player of Buchanon's talent — some scouts think he might be better pro prospect than Jammer — the Polian influence and best athlete concept may take hold, as the team goes for what may be the best corner instead of the fourth-best DT. While nothing is certain, this is an interesting spot, since anyone who desperately wants a DT will have to deal with Indy, because Bryant will surely be gone on the next pick.
12. Arizona 7-9 114-142 .445
Wendell Bryant, DT, Wisconsin — Just a couple of years ago, people thought the Cards would have a Steel Curtain type of defensive front, but injuries and free agency broke up the band quickly. Now, instead of resting on a "Behind the Music" type sob story, the Cards move on and grab a big DT who can help disrupt things up the gut as Arizona continues to try to build a defense that can make them competitive — a must with the Rams, Niners and Seahawks in their division now.
13. New Orleans 7-9 127-129 .496
Donte Stallworth, WR, Tennessee — The Saints have some holes to fill, namely losing Willie Roaf for a song, but there isn't an offensive tackle on the board that deserves selection in this position. With the luxury of two picks in the first round thanks to the Ricky Williams trade, the Saints can wait to grab an OT with their second pick. Stallworth wowed the scouts at the Tennessee team workouts and he has all the capability of being a gamebreaker that Aaron Brooks needs. The Saints are going to have a vastly different look next season and Stallworth can help put a little more high octane in the offense. Depending on how the Saints think the next few picks will go until they get their second chance in the round, they may take a reach for Levi Jones and, while letting Stallworth go, still get a quality wide receiver on their second pick of the first round.
*14. Tennessee 7-9 133-123 .520
Toniu Fonoti, G, Nebraska — The retirement of Bruce Matthews leaves a void on the offensive line and Fonoti seems like a perfect fit for a team that still relies far too heavily on Eddie George to be successful. George is expected to be back at 100 percent next year and, with lingering questions about the shoulder of Steve McNair, George may again be asked to be a 400-carry RB next season. If he is to do that, adding a top-flight young lineman will be critical.
*15. New York Giants 7-9 127-129 ..520
Jeremy Shockey, TE, Miami — This could be a toss-up between Shockey and Daniel Graham, because Shockey is a better offensive threat and Graham is seen as more of a complete package of receiver and blocker. However, in the end, the team has good blocking tight ends for when the situation calls for it. What they need is a playmaker, and Shockey is one of the best-rated offensive TE prospects to come out of college since Tony Gonzalez. While it's doubtful he'll ever live up to Gonzo's rep as a receiver, he will give the G-Men another weapon to use and make huge strides to improve a TE position that produced just 17 receptions for all the tight ends of the team last year.
**16. Cleveland 7-9 136-120 .531
T.J. Duckett, RB, Michigan State — Duckett has passed William Green in the draft assessment, primarily because the Browns brass was blown away by his 4.45 40-yard dash time and Jerome Bettis-like potential as a bruiser who can carry the mail 20 times a game when the Cleveland defense is keeping the other team's offense off the field. The Browns could still take a look at Green, but, as far as we're concerned, it looks like Duckett just slides down the Great Lakes and finally gives the Browns the featured back they so desperately need.
**17. Atlanta 7-9 136-120 .531
Ashley Lelie, WR, Hawaii — Some scouts say Lelie is the best WR in the draft, but, unlike players like Donte Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney, he never faced the type of competition with the Rainbows that wideouts from the established power schools face week in, week out. Lelie has blazing speed, which will come in handy in Atlanta, which can now boast an explosive offense with Michael Vick at the controls and Warrick Dunn streaking out of the backfield. To be a success, Lelie needs to go to the right offense, and the dry indoor track of the Georgia Dome will suit his talents to the fullest extent.
18. Washington 8-8 121-135 .473
Andre Gurode, G, Colorado — There has been a big sentiment that Steve Spurrier will talk Daniel Snyder into taking WR Jabar Gaffney here. However, Spurrier already has a couple of former Gator receivers he brought in — Jacquez Green and Reidel Anthony — and three may be pushing it a little too far. The Redskins are still centered around Stephen Davis and, until Danny Wuerffel (or Woeful, as we call him) is no longer No. 1 on the depth chart, drafting a wide receiver would be like putting a silk hat on a pig.
19. Denver 8-8 125-131 .488
Kalimba Edwards, DE/OLB, South Carolina — There is a lot of speculation that the team will go after a wide receiver, since the position has been too dead for too long behind Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey, but Edwards can fill one of two areas of need — pass rusher and linebacker — that are problematic with the Broncos. Many think Shanahan can build his WR depth through free agency and develop Edwards either into a dominant pass rusher or a huge OLB that can be extremely disruptive on the edges of the defense.
20. Seattle 9-7 116-140 .453
Daniel Graham, TE, Colorado — This pick could go in several directions, but Mike Holmgren's version of the West Coast Offense has always been predicated on having a play-making tight end -- something he simply doesn't have in Seattle. With a young team building together offensively with Matt Hasselbeck, Shaun Alexander and Koren Robinson, adding a pass-catching tight end to the mix will be essential with the Seahawks moving to the NFC and bringing Holmgren up close and personal with a lot of his old rivals. It's obvious the Seahawks have been chasing down a TE, going after Shannon Sharpe and Ken Dilger. If they can get something done with Dilger before the draft, obviously this pick will change, but, barring that, look for Holmgren to add this integral piece to his offensive puzzle.
21. Oakland (from TB) 9-7 137-119 .535
Napoleon Harris, LB, Northwestern — The Raiders signed Bill Romanowski, but that doesn't mean that they don't want to improve their stock. This may have been a moot point if the Raiders, as many seem to believe, trade this and the No. 23 pick to Dallas, Minnesota or Kansas City to jump up in the first round and grab a DT like John Henderson. If the Raiders stay here, they want to cure some ills and Romo is a short-term answer. As a tutor for Harris, he can become a long-term solution.
22. New York Jets 10-6 131-125 .512
Lito Shepherd, CB, Florida — The Jets have some questions in the secondary after freeing up cap space by making d-backs available in the expansion draft and, with Jammer and Buchanon off the board, there is no clear choice at No. 3. Shepherd looks to be that player, but nothing is guaranteed and, if a player the Jets like jump up at them, they could make the move or even trade down — not too many people believe another CB is going off the board in the first round.
23. Oakland 10-6 120-136 .469
Jabar Gafney, WR, Florida — How do you try to keep a player from a school known for first-round WR busts avoiding that vicious cycle from repeating itself? Let him spend his first season learning from Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Tim Brown, two players with the best work ethic in the league. Gafney will be nurtured along in his first season and, as the Raiders come face to face with huge cap problems, be asked to take over in 2003.
24. Baltimore 10-6 131-125 .512
Dwight Freeney, DE/OLB, Syracuse — For a team that looked so dominant just a year ago, the Ravens suddenly have a lot of holes to fill. They need help on the offensive line and defensive interior line, but could also go after safety Edward Reed of Miami to replace Rod Woodson, but Freeney gives the Ravens a player who could be a pass rushing DE or a Jamie Sharper replacement at OLB alongside Ray Lewis. The Ravens have fallen into the mold of several teams that must be dominant on one side of the ball and decent on the other. Without a lot of cap room to maneuver, it will have to be a solid draft to keep the Raven defense at the top of its game. With Atlanta and Miami now out of the running for a top RB, Brian Billick may find it hard to shy away from grabbing a bull like Michigan State's T.J. Duckett at this spot. The Ravens' primary failure last season was the lack of a running game when Jamal Lewis went down and, if there is any concern that he will be less than 100 percent, Duckett could be one of the steals of the first round.
25. New Orleans (from Miami) 11-5 128-128 .500
Levi Jones, OT, Arizona State — One thing is certain. Regardless of what happens now with Willie Roaf, the prospect is clear that the Saints need a new OT to team up with Kyle Turley. Jones may be a bit of a stretch at this point, but he and Mike Pearson are seen as the only first-round quality OTs available at this point and to make the offense work with a young QB and new starter Deuce McAllister, the Saints will need all the protection the line can provide.
26. Philadelphia 11-5 124-132 .484
William Green, RB, Boston College — At No. 26, you don't expect to have a player of this caliber available. Just like New Orleans went against immediate need to take Duece McAlister last year, the other Duce — Staley — may be on notice that Green and Correll Buckhalter are the future of this offense, not Staley. He openly groused about the Eagles looking to sign Warrick Dunn, which sent a clear indication that his numerous injuries may result in his ouster before he gets a huge contract with the Eagles. Philly could go in different directions here, but Green is a great present for the most pleasant sports fan on Earth at No. 26.
27. San Francisco 12-4 119-137 .465
Mike Pearson, OT, Florida — Another guy some people project as a second-rounder at best, need may override best athlete available status for the Niners. Having an offensive line in place is priority one and the Niners are still under some cap strain and need to make it a rookie instead of a high-priced or over-the-hill veteran. Pearson can start immediately and protect brittle Jeff Garcia from sustaining more damage.
28. Green Bay 12-4 111-145 .434
Antonio Bryant, WR, Pittsburgh — A lot of people think the Packers will go with Josh Reed of LSU, but Bryant gives the Packers the best pure route runner and polished receiver in the draft. His disappointing 40 times dropped him down this far, but the slide will stop, since the Packers are convinced he can step in as a rookie opposite Terry Glenn and give the Packers the best WR tandem the team has had since Antonio Freeman and Robert Brooks were Super Bowl bound.
29. Chicago 13-3 119-137 .465
Charles Grant, DE, Georgia — The Bears improvement last year was due in large part to the impact made by free agent DTs Keith Traylor and Ted Washington. A pass-rushing DE could make the whole unit better and have a ripple effect on the rest of the defense. That alone would be reason to make a run for Grant. The fact he's a great athlete besides is a plus for a team drafting to a need this late in the first round.
30. Pittsburgh 13-3 107 149 .418
Ed Reed, S, Miami — The Steelers primary areas of need are at safety and cornerback and Reed is the best safety available in the draft. Even if the Steelers are able to convince Rod Woodson to come back, that is merely a short-term solution and having a player he could mentor for a year would help the organization well into the future, making Reed a pick that would make a lot of sense as Bill Cowher tries to repeat the 2001 performance that gave the Steelers home-field advantage in the playoffs.
31. St. Louis 14-2 121-135 .473
Josh Reed, WR, LSU — Yes, the Rams have replaced Az-zahir Hakim with Terrence Wilkins, but he isn't viewed as a big-time answer. Combine that with the fact that Ricky Proehl is probably gone after this year and Isaac Bruce is over 30 years old, Mike Martz will likely go to the well to keep his offense at the top of its game. The only real factor that could change this philosophy is that Martz is said to be totally in love with the skills of Antwaan Randle El, who would be used as a WR in the Rams offense. If Martz is convinced Randle El won't be around on the third round, he would be tempted to grab him at the end of the second round, which would all but preclude taking a WR in the first round. However, Reed is a great athlete and a bargain at this point in the first round.
32. New England 11-5 115-141 .449
Anthony Weaver, DL, Notre Dame — You can't keep Bill Belichick looking at offense for too long. Yes, he'd like another wide receiver to help out the offense, but he's a defensive strategist and has a player available in Weaver who can play end or tackle. While perhaps not asked to start right away, Weaver can be a super sub who sees as much time as the starters if lined up in multiple positions and allowed to exploit his talents to the best of his ability — a knack Belichick has been able to cultivate in defensive players over the years.
* The Titans beat the Giants in a coin flip for 14th position.
** The Browns beat Atlanta in a coin flip for 16th position.

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