Vikings Visit with First-Round Hopeful

The Vikings were visiting with a defender Thursday at Winter Park that could be a first-round pick.

The Vikings were giving the once-over to Florida State cornerback Antonio Cromartie Thursday and might be willing to take a chance on a player who is taking a big chance by entering the 2006 NFL Draft.

College juniors enter the draft early every year, but Cromartie, who was 6-2 ½, 208 at the NFL Combine, declared early for the NFL because of his family's financial situation. Growing up, his family didn't have money and the first-day draft selection is hoping to change that.

"It was tough for me. For me, when I grew up, I was always in the projects. So it was money (why he declared for the draft)," he said. "It was always a problem for us family-wise. But I feel like (now that) I'm taking on this opportunity now we won't have any financial problems for the rest of our lives."

That could be. He is expected to be drafted anywhere from the second half of the first round to the second round. Without the injury, Tony Pauline of TFY Draft Preview said Cromartie would have been projected as a top-10 draft pick before the 2005 season. Either way, he should finally have an opportunity to provide financially for his family after suffering a serious knee injury before practices even started for Florida State last summer.

His 2005 season at FSU never was, and NFL teams like the Vikings are likely visiting with him to see how his ACL, MCL and his hamstring have healed since injuring them while attempting an interception in July 2005. If all checks out, he could be selected in the first round. A league source said he was very impressed with Cromartie pro-day workout.

He's a talented player, according to a probable first-round wide receiver who faced him when Cromartie was a sophomore.

"He's a great physical guy," Florida receiver Chad Jackson said of Cromartie. "He's got great size, great speed. He's a tall guy, and he should be able to play the safety spot or the cornerback spot. I was surprised to see him at the cornerback when I played against them (in Cromartie's sophomore year). I thought they would move him to safety."

TFY DRAFT PREVIEW ANALYSIS

Full Name: Antonio Cromartie School: Florida State Pos: CB

Ht: 6-2 Wt: 208 40: 4.51 Year: 3Jr

Bio: Missed the entire ‘05 season after injuring a knee in the preseason. All-Conference selection the prior year with 22/4/6. Saw extensive playing time as a true freshman, posting 19/1/2.

Pos: Natural cover corner who shuts down opponents. Physical, sized well and jams opponents at the line. Mirrors receivers down the field and offers blanket coverage. Flips his hips in transition, quickly gets his head back around and immediately locates the ball. Aggressive in run defense.

Neg: Lacks quick and fluid footwork in reverse. Slow reacting to receivers' moves.

Analysis: A junior who entered the season with high grades before his knee injury, Cromartie offers terrific upside for the next level. Will see playing time as a rookie if given a clean bill of health.



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