The Vikings went into the first round of this year's NFL draft holding the seventh overall pick and wanting to solidify their defensive line once and for all by adding University of North Carolina nose tackle Ryan Sims, who would have teamed with under tackle Chris Hovan on the interior of the team's defensive line. Along with the free agent additions of ends Kenny Mixon and Lorenzo Bromell, the defensive front would be set for the next five years or more. But the Kansas City Chiefs completed a down-to-the-wire trade with the Dallas Cowboys to move one pick ahead of the Vikings and nab Sims.
The Vikings still managed to fill a need and add a blue-chip player in Miami (Fla.) left tackle Bryant McKinnie, who should be a fixture as a bookend tackle and blindside protector for quarterback Daunte Culpepper for years to come, as well as an annual Pro Bowl participant.
The remainder of the draft's first day found the Vikings looking to add size and speed to their defense. While the second-round selection of Washington State outside linebacker Raonall Smith, and third-round choice, South Carolina safety Willie Offord, were considered reaches by the draft experts, they fill definite needs for the Vikings. Head coach Mike Tice says Smith and Offord will compete to become starters at weakside linebacker and strong safety, respectively.
The Vikings continued filling needs and making some value picks as well on day two with their selection of North Carolina State defensive back Brian Williams and Utah guard Ed Ta'amu in the fourth round. Williams will be tried at cornerback but could eventually win the starting free safety position. Ta'amu provides depth at guard and will be groomed for a starting spot in the near future.
In round six the team selected Nick Rogers, an explosive edge rusher from Georgia Tech who will get a long look at middle linebacker by the Vikings. He could prove to be a sixth-round steal. Virginia Tech defensive tackle Chad Beasley, the team's seventh-round pick, is a hard-working player who will be tough to cut.
1. Bryant McKinnie, OLT (#74)
(6-8, 343, 5.24) Miami, Fla.
Personal: Born Bryant Douglas McKinnie, 9-23-79. Did not play high school football until his senior year, when he was a standout defensive end at Woodbury (N.J.) High. Recorded 56 tackles and 13 sacks. Also lettered two years in track and field, participating in the shot put and discus. Also ran the 400 meters on the track team. Nickname is "Mount."
College: Standout left tackle at Lackawanna (Scranton, Pa.) Junior College. Came to Miami (Fla.) in '99 and redshirted for developmental purposes. Starting left tackle in 2000, leading the team with 117 knockdowns, graded 84.5 percent for blocking consistency and was an All-Big East pick. Registered 134 knockdowns, graded 87.4 percent, was a unanimous All-American, won the Outland Trophy as the top lineman in the country and finished eighth in voting for the Heisman Trophy in 2001. Started every game as a senior but had his knee scoped after the regular-season finale to remove bone chips and loose cartilage. Had the surgery in early December and was able to start in the Rose Bowl. Sociology major.
Pro: First-round pick (seventh overall) by Vikings. Vikings apparently wanted North Carolina DT Ryan Sims ahead of McKinnie, but the league ruled that the Chiefs got their trade card in ahead of the Vikings as the Cowboys ran out of time. McKinnie was one of 4-1/2 "blue-chippers" on the team's draft board. The others were Julius Peppers, Sims and Mike Williams, with Quentin Jammer being the half due to a lack of a consensus by the Vikings brass.
Vital Statistics: Is a legitimate 6-foot-8. Has run as fast as 5.11-5.13 in the 40 and done 20 reps at 225. Recorded a 1.93 10-yard dash time. Can bench-press 365 pounds, 285-pound power clean, 31-1/2-inch vertical jump, 35-1/2-inch arm length, 94-inch wingspan and 9-3/4-inch hands. Weighed 343 pounds at the combine. Checked in at 338 pounds at Miami's Pro Day, where he ran a 5.37-5.38 40 on grass and did 19 reps. Other vitals: shoe size 18, shirt 4XL, waist 48-inch, ring size 17.
Scouting Report: Simply huge with tremendous height and long arms. Rare combination of size and athletic ability. Virtually impossible to get around on the pass rush. Very quick setting up. Anchors well. Quick hands and big mitts. Does an excellent job of punching out and using his hands and long arms on pass protection and did not allow a single sack in two full seasons as a starter. Can be left alone and protect his quarterback's blind side. Light on his feet and athletic for his size. Still needs some reps on making adjustments to blitzes and stunts but does recover well. Rolls his hips and slides his feet well. Bends his knees well. Can change directions. Good technique. Regarded as too soft by some and could use development in the weight room. Is not a super-mean, nasty, butt-kicker, but is strong and can be an overpowering one-on-one blocker. Shows explosiveness off the ball. Dominates at times and will engulf defenders.
Can get upfield and cut off linebackers at the second level. Can adjust on the move but looks indecisive at times in the open field and is still somewhat limited in his overall football background. Has gotten by on ability and still needs to push himself. Is still a somewhat raw player, but his best football is still ahead of him. Has been extremely durable. Is a very intelligent, genuine and gifted young man. Class act. Nice person with good work ethic. Spends time in the film room and wants to improve. Could have come out last year but went back to school to pursue his degree.
Outlook: Considered in the Jonathan Ogden-Orlando Pace-Chris Samuels class by some. Has the physical tools to be very good and can be truly great if he develops more tenacity and toughness. McKinnie is a physical specimen who only lacks fundamentals and strength, both of which can be developed. Should start immediately at left tackle for the Vikings and looks like a perennial All-Pro.
What they say:
"Instant starter...Now we have another cornerstone. He has a bright future...He's a player that's going to take care of Daunte Culpepper's backside for a long, long time. From the film I watched, he's a man amongst boys." — head coach Mike Tice
"We are extremely pleased with the player we got. I don't think we will have to coach him very long for him to become an outstanding offensive tackle." — VP of player personnel Frank Gilliam
"I could coach for 50 years and never coach a kid like that again. I've never had anybody even close to him. He's only 22, but he's hardly played any football. By the time he gets to be about 26, he'll be so good, it's ridiculous." — Miami offensive line coach Art Kehoe.
"A complete player, yet one that is still growing. My body is still going to mature, and I'm going to learn the game. I can play well the run and pass. I represent them well, on and off the field." — McKinnie, when asked what the Vikings are getting.
"His exciting blend of strength, size and above-average footwork combined with his ever-improving technique should make him a 10-year starter in the NFL." — NFL scout.
"His upside is tremendous. He's got the physical skills to be one of the best ever. He's raw in terms of technique, but he really could be as good or better than NFL Pro Bowlers Orlando Pace and Johnathan Ogden."— NFL scout
2. Raonall Smith, OLB (#57)
(6-2, 244, 4.53) Washington State
Personal: Born Raonall Aarrig Smith, 10-22-78 in Mesa, Ariz. Lives in Gig Harbor, Washington. Three-sport (football, basketball and baseball) athlete and member of the National Honor Society with a 3.6 prep GPA at Peninsula High School. As a senior, recorded 88 tackles, 16 sacks, 9 passes broken up, 4 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, one interception and 2 blocked kicks.
College: Redshirted in '97. Saw action in six games with two starts, finishing with six tackles, including six for loss, and two sacks in ‘98. Suffered a shoulder injury and had surgery after the '98 season. Played in eight games with four starts in '99, registering 38 tackles, including four for loss, but missed time with a knee injury and shoulder injury. Started every game in 2000 after staying injury-free, recording 71 tackles, 12 for loss, three sacks and five passes broken up. Was an honorable mention All-Pac 10 pick as a junior. First-team All-Pac 10 in 2001, registering 68 tackles, seven for loss, one interception, six passes broken up, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Missed one game in 2001 after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. Communications major
Pro: Second-round pick (38th overall) by the Vikings.
Vital Statistics: Measured 6-2 1/8, 244 at the combine. Ran a 1.57 10-yard dash, 2.62 20-yard dash, 4.11 20-yard shuttle, 11.38 60-yard shuttle, 7.10 three-cone drill, posted a 42-inch vertical jump, a 10-5 broad jump and did 26 reps at 225 pounds. Bench-presses 380 pounds and squats 550. Runs a 4.49 40-yard dash on a fast track and has run an incredible 4.28 on a very fast track. Ran consistent 4.48-4.55 prior to the draft at 242-250 pounds.
Scouting Report: A physical specimen. Superbly testing athlete. Impressive athlete with rare speed. Can really run and has exceptional leaping ability. Plays hard. Needs to improve his ability to key, diagnose, read, react and shed blocks, but he flies to the ball and shows terrific range. Can chase down plays and is an explosive hitter and tackler. Makes tackles from sideline to sideline. Has potential as a pass rusher due to his tremendous speed. Impressive ability for pass defense. Has the tools to run with backs in coverage. Does a decent job in pass coverage but is inconsistent and lacks great instincts and awareness. Should do well on special teams. Has not been durable and missed a lot of playing time in college, though mostly with minor injuries. Will need patient coaching, but his upside potential is intriguing.
Outlook: Will get every opportunity to start on the weak side. Very, very similar to Kailee Wong in terms of size-speed and run-hit ratio. Like Wong, the question will be his instincts, but there is no question about his overall physical ability.
What they say:
"He gives us size and speed at linebacker. He is very good in space, which is important in Willie's (Shaw) defensive scheme. He's not a box player, a space player. That's what we need, a guy that can run. He's big too ... I know his agent extremely well and I was impressed with him when I saw him on film. He can run. It's like every young player, he's got some holes and he's going to have to improve, and consistency is a key for him. But we like his explosiveness and we like his size and we like his speed." — Mike Tice
"As far as athletic ability, he was one of the best athletes on the entire football team. He jumps higher, runs faster and lifts more than most guys can. He's got the kind of speed to make some big-plays." — Washington State head coach Mike Price
3. Willie Offord, SS (#24)
(6-1, 209, 4.52) South Carolina
Personal: Born 12-22-78. Lives in Palatka, Fla. Was a two-time all-state defensive back as a prep. Recorded 71 tackles and two interceptions as a senior.
College: Redshirted in '97. Recorded 30 tackles, three pass breakups and three quarterback pressures as a weakside linebacker in '98. Moved to strong safety in '99 and was in on 12 tackles, recovered a fumble and forced a fumble as a backup and special teamer. Leader of the Gamecocks defense at the "right-spur" (free safety) position the past two years. Recorded 59 tackles, one forced fumble, one interception, four tackles-for-loss, five PBU and one sack in 2000. Had 84 stops, one FF, one FR, one INT, two TFL, two PBU and one sack in 2001. Criminal justice major.
Pro: Third-round pick (70th overall) by the Vikings.
Vital Statistics: Measures 6-1-1/4, 205-215 pounds. Posted a 1.61 10-yard dash, 2.62 20-yard dash, 4.42-4.61 40-yard dash, 4.28 20-yard shuttle, 11.31 60-yard shuttle, 7.23 three-cone drill, 35-inch vertical jump, 9'9" broad jump and did 22 reps at 225 pounds. Has 31-1/8-inch arm length and 10-inch hands.
Scouting Report: Big, strong, physical player. Versatile player who essentially played both strong safety and free safety-type positions in college. "In-the-box" type strong safety that plays the run like an extra linebacker. Very aggressive and comes up and supports the run well. Generally hits and tackles well, though he'll hit more than wrapping up at times. Makes plays and shows some feel for the game. Fine straight-line speed and good range in zone coverage. Struggles when isolated in man-to-man coverage situations but has improved on pass coverage. Showed dramatic improvement in practices prior to the East-West Shrine game. Has not been a big-time ball hawk, but displays good quickness and the ability to close on the ball. Should be a very good special teams player.
Outlook: He is a player with some upside because of his size-speed combination and productivity against the run. Will compete for the starting job at strong safety.
What they say:
"We're very excited about the pick. (He's a) big, strong, physical guy, an excellent tackler. He comes from a very good program, a disciplined program. We're excited to have him in." — head coach Mike Tice
"With the type of defense we play, it favors a strong, physical hitter like Willie Offord. We got all kinds of calls before the pick, but we decided for our defense he was a good pick. In their defense he played closer to the line, but I think he's fast enough and athletic enough to play back or up." — VP of player personnel Frank Gilliam
4a. Brian Williams, DB (#29)
(6-0, 207, 4.56) North Carolina State
Personal: Born 7-2-79. Lives in High Point, N.C. High school running back at Southwest Guilford (N.C.) High. Rushed for 1,955 yards on 250 carries and scored 23 touchdowns as a senior. Also had three interceptions in limited time as a defensive back. Gained 4,010 yards on 533 carries with 40 TDs in his final two seasons in high school. Also an outstanding basketball player, averaging 20 points as a junior.
College: Recruited as a running back but moved to safety as a freshman in '98, recording 13 tackles and one blocked punt in a backup free safety role and special-teamer. Started every game at free safety in '99 and led the team with 131 tackles while posting two interceptions, four pass breakups, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and one blocked kick. Moved to right cornerback in '00; recorded 55 tackles, one sack, four tackles-for-loss, one blocked kick, seven PBU and one FR. Posted 63 tackles, three interceptions, nine PBU and two blocked kicks in '01. Also added 23 special-teams tackles during his college career. Sociology major.
Pro: Fourth-round pick (105th overall) by the Vikings.
Vital Statistics: Measures 5-11-5/8, 207 pounds. Did 19 reps at 225 pounds, ran a 1.56 10-yard dash, 2.64 20-yard dash, 4.51-4.60 40-yard dash, posted a 39-inch vertical-jump, 10'2" broad jump, 4.20 20-yard shuttle, 11.62 60-yard shuttle and 7.21 three-cone drill. Posts 330-pound bench press, 30-1/2-inch arm length, 7-1/2-inch hands. Is right-handed. Wears contacts.
Scouting Report: Very good athlete and solid all-around football player with good but not great speed. Adequate sized player who is well built with broad shoulders and good upper body development. Tough, durable, hard-hitting player who plays hard and shows passion for the game. Good instincts and reactions. Might need some time to make the transition back inside, but is a versatile player who's experienced in both man-to-man and zone coverages at cornerback, which should make him well-suited inside at free safety, where he does have some experience. Closes on the ball well. Jumps well and can compete for the ball. Does a nice job on run support. Reliable tackler who wraps up and shows sound technique. Fluid runner who plays a little faster than he times. Excelled on special teams.
Outlook: A good, tough, versatile football player and a real safe, solid pick. Might start out at corner, but should ultimately compete for the starting free safety job as a rookie if he can make the transition back inside.
4b. Ed Ta'amu, OG (#75)
(6-2, 335, 5.22) Utah
Personal: Born 11-8-79. Name is pronounced ta-ah-moo. All-State defensive lineman at Iolani High School in Honolulu, Hawaii. Missed part of his junior season with a fractured ankle. Also excelled in track, winning the state discus (173 feet) title in 1996. Likes to play the piano.
College: Joined the Utes as an offensive guard, but was shifted to defensive tackle the following year. Sat out in '97 under NCAA Proposition 48 rules. Moved back to the offensive line as a junior and then led the team in blocking consistency and knockdown blocks during his final two seasons. Credited with 247 knockdown/pancake blocks, an 86.5 blocking efficiency grade and allowed just two sacks over the past two seasons. Graduated in August 2001 with a degree in sociology.
Pro: Supplemental fourth-round pick (132nd overall) by the Vikings.
Vital Statistics: Measured 6-1-1/8, 334 pounds. Did 28 reps at 225 pounds. Bench pressed 455 pounds, 412-pound hang clean and squatted 625. Recorded a 1.78 10-yard dash, 2.99 20-yard dash, 4.65 20-yard shuttle, 9.15 three-cone drill. Forty times were 5.12-5.30 prior to the draft. Posted a 29-inch vertical jump, an 8'5" broad jump, 33-1/4-inch arm length and 10-1/2-inch hands. Solid Wonderlic score.
Scouting Report: Big, thick all-around body. Tough, physical, hard-nosed blocker. Very intense. Surprisingly light on his feet. Really explodes into the man he is blocking and dominates. Very good hand punch. Strong, heavy hands. Can jolt defenders off the ball. Needs development as a pass protector, but shows some leg slide, establishes a wide base and can anchor in pass protection. Shows some feel for picking up stunts and blitzes. Looks slow-footed and unathletic in the open field. A little shorter than some like but has fairly long arms and tremendous physical strength. Power-type player. Struggles against quickness and speed-type defenders. More of a mauler. Better in-line, short-area blocker than out on the move and in space where he has to adjust to a moving target. Still developing as a technician.
Outlook: Big, powerful, physical prospect to groom behind David Dixon at right guard. Needs some development, especially on pass protection, but has the tools to become a quality starter a year or two down the road.
What they say:
"The kid is a mauler. He's a very, very physical player and because of that, that's where we are going to have to work to improve his game in pass protection. He's a very aggressive (player)." — offensive line coach Steve Loney
6. Nick Rogers, LB (#58)
(6-2, 251, 4.66) Georgia Tech
Personal: Born Nicholas Quixote Rogers, 5-31-79. Honorable Mention All-State running back at St. Pius X High School in East Point, Ga. Rushed for 849 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior. Also lettered three times in basketball and track. Older brother, Phillip, was a running back (1995-99) for the Yellow Jackets, while his younger sister, Dana, is on Tech's track team.
College: Redshirted in '97. Played on special teams in '98. Part-time starter in '99, moving between both weakside linebacker, strongside linebacker and weakside defensive end; recorded 36 tackles, 1.5 sacks, five quarterback pressures, six tackles for loss, one pass deflection, one interception, one forced fumble. Earned All-ACC honors in 2000 as he posted 62 tackles, 13 for losses, nine sacks, 16 pressures, six forced fumbles and two pass deflections. Slowed some by injury (elbow) in 2001 but still earned second-team All-ACC honors and posted 64 tackles, one forced fumble, 12 TFL, one PBU, six sacks and 26 pressures. Management major.
Pro: Sixth-round pick (177th overall) by Vikings.
Vital Statistics: Measured 6-2, 250-257 pounds. Did 22 reps at 225. Ran 1.57 10-yard dash, 2.63 20-yard dash, posted a 36-inch vertical-jump, 9'9" broad-jump, 4.19 20-yard shuttle, 11.71 60-yard shuttle, 7.02 three-cone drill. Forty times were 4.49-4.75. Has 33-1/4-inch arms and 9-inch hands. Right-handed.
Scouting Report: Fine all-around athlete with excellent speed, strength and agility. Fast and athletic. Good speed. Strong for size. Solid upper-body development. Can play outside linebacker. Has the size to play over and control the tight end. Plays hard. Good pursuit. Can chase down plays. Knows how to use his hands. Good pass rusher with good closing speed. Kind of a 'tweener. Too small for playing down, lacks extensive experience playing up. Relentless pass rusher. Shows pretty good hips and should be able to drop off into coverage.
Outlook: Interesting pick. Solid choice at this area. Played for defensive line coach George O'Leary, so the coaching staff should be very familiar with him and what he's capable of doing. Looks like a good linebacker prospect in the middle or on the strong side who just needs some grooming.
7. Chad Beasley, DT (#65)
(6-5, 303, 5.12) Virginia Tech
Personal: Born Thomas Chad Beasley, 11-13-78 in Upper St. Clair, Pa. Father, Tom, was a star defensive lineman for the Hokies in the mid-'70s and played on two Super Bowl teams with the Steelers before finishing his career with the Redskins. His sister, Kerri, was a member of the Virginia Tech volleyball team. His cousin, Jake Houseright, was the starting middle linebacker at Virginia Tech this past season. Four-year letterman at Gate City (Va.) High as a defensive end and offensive guard. Posted 80 tackles and four sacks his senior year. Also excelled in track, winning the state outdoor titles in the shot put and discus as a senior.
College: Redshirted as a freshman in '97. Posted 28 tackles, one interception, three tackles for loss and one sack in '98. Had 39 tackles, six TFL, one PBU, two sacks and three pressures in '99. Became a starter in 2000; recorded 58 tackles, one FR, one INT, eight TFL, five PBU, one sack and five pressures. Registered 57 tackles, one FR, one FF, four TFL, two PBU, two sacks and three pressures in 2001.
Pro: Seventh-round pick (218th overall) by the Vikings.
Vital Statistics: Measures 6-5 3/8, 303 pounds. Did 27 reps at 225. Bench-presses 400 pounds, 620-pound squat, 370-pound power clean. Ran 1.72 10-yard dash, 2.93 20-yard dash, 4.57 20-yard shuttle and 7.75 three-cone drill. Forty times are 4.90-5.15. Posted 31.5-inch vertical-jump and 8'8" broad jump. Has 32-1/2-inch arm length and 10-1/4-inch hands. Right-handed. Recorded a 30-plus Wonderlic score, which is very solid.
Scouting Report: Great character. Team leader. Nice size. Good weight-room strength. Tough, aggressive, hard-working, competitive player with a non-stop motor. Always hustles. Reads and diagnoses well and can identify blocking schemes. Well-schooled player. Is not a true, natural power-type player. Needs work on his pass rush. More of a push-the-pocket-type than an explosive pass rusher. Lacks some suddenness and top athleticism. Lacks top closing speed.
Outlook: In the mix to challenge for a roster spot to add depth inside on the defensive line. Beasley will bring the level of intensity up a notch in training camp this summer.
2002 Draftees In-Depth
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