Are the Top Six Picks Already Set?

As Mike Tice and the Vikings get closer to being on the clock Saturday for the draft, it seems as though there is a consensus that the top six picks have already been scripted.

There are few certainties in drafting, that is why so many mock drafts are updated so often -- and why VU's own mock draft will go through its 10th change tomorrow.

However, there is getting to be a sentiment that the Vikings and new coach Mike Tice will be the first team to have a real decision to make, since it's starting to look like the first six picks have all but been made.

Houston and David Carr are close to announcing a seven-year, $46 million deal that will be concluded before the draft even begins. At No. 2, despite rumblings otherwise in some circles, Carolina still looks to have Julius Peppers in their sites. At No. 3, Detroit may find it impossible to pass on Texas CB Quentin Jammer. Those three picks now seem almost etched in stone.

At Nos. 4 and 5, things get a little cloudier, as some draft scouts believe Buffalo will give up hope of trading for Drew Bledsoe and draft QB Joey Harrington. However, most of the rest of us believe the Bills and Chargers will jump on the two massive offensive tackles -- Buffalo taking Mike Williams and San Diego taking Bryant McKinnie.

That leaves Dallas between the Vikings and their first pick. If you can believe what a player is saying on the subject, Oklahoma safety Roy Williams has been unabashed in saying he doesn't want any of the top five teams to take him so he can go to Dallas. Jerry Jones is said to be in love with Williams' talent, although safeties rarely go that high in the draft. That said, a player who wants to play for Dallas combined with the fact he is a rare Pro Bowl-quality talent on a team that has added a lot of power to its defense this off-season, Dallas could well take Williams and script the sixth pick of the draft.

So, it could come down to the Vikings being the first team with a question mark next to them. Take DT Ryan Sims? Take DT Albert Haynesworth? Take CB Phillip Buchanon? Trade down for more picks? Those are all possibilities, but, with the way the talk is turning, it may be the first real question of the 2002 draft.

* In a radio interview last weekend, Rams QB Kurt Warner addressed the Cris Carter issue, saying among other things that the Rams organization was split on bringing him in. VU has been told by sources close to the matter that coach Mike Martz was willing to give C.C. a try, while G.M. Dick Armey and several players, including Warner, had some reservations. Warner said Carter's sideline antics weren't missed by the Rams and there was a worry that he would disrupt the good chemistry the team enjoys. Also, he said that Carter blowing off a dinner meeting with coaches, players and their wives incensed enough people that any offer to C.C. was taken off the board and wouldn't be considered again. In short, Carter made his own bed by his actions and the Rams have a long memory.
* Speaking of the Rams, the expected signing of Mitch Berger was delayed until today. We're being told he'll accept a one-year deal for $650,000.
* The Vikings are toughening their stance on TE Hunter Goodwin. Much like Byron Chamberlain a month ago, talks with Goodwin have stalled and the Vikings are threatening to take their offer off the table and move on if he isn't willing to sign before the draft.
* As expected, the Chiefs signed Bears LB Warrick Holdman to an offer sheet Monday. The offer is for four years and $12 million. The deal has a poison pill the Bears likely won't match, since the second year of the contract would include a cap number of $4 million -- much more than the Bears are apparently willing to spend.
* One player who has been whispered to be on the Vikes WR wish list is Keenan McCardell of Jacksonville, who is expected to be released June 1. However, McCardell is said to be drawing interest from the Browns. He began his career with Cleveland and left only when the team moved from Cleveland to Baltimore.

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