As the minutes ticked down to the Vikings' first selection in the 2005 draft, it was becoming apparent that they had a plan. Many of the thousands of fans thought they would hear Commissioner Paul Tagliabue utter the name "Williams" when announcing the Vikings' choice.
He did … sort of. When he took the podium, he announced Troy Williamson, a speedy wide receiver from South Carolina – much to the dismay of many in attendance at the fieldhouse draft party at Winter Park. It wasn't the thunderous chorus of boos that signaled the arrival of Kevin Williams – a decision many of those booing would later regret. Coach Mike Tice was a little defensive when he took the stage, bringing fans what he is convinced will be a difference-maker at the wide receiver position.
"We had him No. 2 on our draft board (behind only RB Cadillac Williams)," Tice said. "I'm sorry that some of the people that didn't put as much time into the process as we did are booing. I don't understand that."
However, Tice didn't need to do a selling job on Williamson to fans familiar with his skills. Coming from a Lou Holtz-led offense that promotes running much more the passing, Williamson didn't put up the monster numbers some of the other top prospects had on their resumes. But what he does bring to the table is something the separated him from the rest of the wide receivers available in the eyes of the Vikings – speed.
"We're excited to add more speed to our lineup," Tice said. "(Receivers coach) Wes Chandler knows a lot about receivers and he fell in love with him at his workout."
For his part, Williamson was the first wide receiver Chandler saw at a pro day since joining the coaching staff in February and echoed the sentiments of Tice in appraising the talent of his new charge.
"This isn't rocket science," Chandler said of evaluating talent. "He can blow up a defense with his speed. He runs a legitimate 4.32 40 time. The fact he didn't have the number of catches some of the other guys isn't the issue. A lot of times it's talent versus opportunity."
His opportunity will begin next week when he faces his first action in minicamp and, for their part, the Vikings top brass are convinced he will pass all the tests with flying colors.
"He's one of those guys who jumps out at you on film," Scott Studwell said. "He's a fun player to watch.."
And, as his growth process begins, he will have plenty of opportunities to refine his game.
"We have a couple of shutdown-type cornerbacks on this team that he's going to be working with," Tice said. "That's going to be a big help for him. When people see what he can do, they will see what we've already seen – whether it's speed, balance or run after the catch, he brings a lot of good things to our team."
Vikings' Reaction: Troy Williamson
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