NFL Draft: Vikings Interests

From all-star games to combine interviews to Winter Park visits in the last month, we have uncovered dozens of players the Vikings have shown an interest in, which brings us to one big summary report on who they are, how serious the interest may be and when they might be drafted.

After two months of uncovering and reporting on Vikings interests in the draft, the day of truth will finally be at hand tomorrow.

Which leaves one last big report on who we have discovered the Vikings have an interest in. The information and interest has come in many forms. They have brought prospects in for visits, which is a more public way of checking out the player physically and interviewing him. However, since that interest in more public, it can also be a smokescreen to mask true intent on draft day. The Vikings have also privately worked out numerous players, either at the player's campus or another undisclosed location.

Other interests are discovered in talking with league sources and players, who will sometimes say with which teams they have talked. Finally there is interest or interviews conducted at the NFL Combine, Senior Bowl or East-West Shrine game, all big scouting events on the NFL off-season circuit.

With those many sources of information, here are the players we know the Vikings have visited with, shown interest in or worked out.


Quarterback –
The Vikings visited with Texas' Vince Young, Clemson's Charlie Whitehurst and Vanderbilt's Jay Cutler at the team's practice facility. Young seems the most likely to be a smokescreen, as he is thought to be a bad fit for the West Coast offense and should be selected long before the Vikings' 17th pick. Cutler may or may not be available at No. 17, but indications are he is the team's top choice. Whitehurst would likely be a second- or third-round option if the team isn't able to get a first-round quarterback.

At the Combine, the Vikings also had discussions with Alabama's Brodie Croyle and Eastern Washington's Erik Meyer. They have also shown interest in Alabama State's Tavaris Jackson, a later-round value, and Central Michigan's Kent Smith, a potential rookie free agent.

Running back – The team also had at least two running backs in for visits at Winter Park, including Minnesota's Laurence Maroney and Memphis' DeAngelo Williams. With the release of Onterrio Smith, a higher-round selection at running back is a possibility once again, but the team seems committed and excited by free-agent signee Chester Taylor.

The options open up further after the first round, and has been told by several prospects of the team's interest in them. Penn State's Michael Robinson has been listed as a potential quarterback, running back or safety at the NFL level, and it is believed the interest the Vikings showed in him at the Combine was as a running back. More likely options for the team's offense are Mississippi State's Jerious Norwood or South Florida's Andre Hall, both saying they interviewed with Minnesota at the Combine.

And then there is UCLA's Maurice Drew, who would also fit the multi-dimensional requirements of the team's offense and played for running backs coach Eric Bieniemy in college.

The Vikings have also talked with Arizona's Mike Bell.

Wide receiver – The only interest at this position we've uncovered is in Skyler Green, who has added value because of his return ability.

Tight end – The Vikings brought in Wisconsin's Owen Daniels and USC's Dominique Byrd for visits. Both are considered good fits for the West Coast offense, with the logical connection being Daniels and his association with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, another former Badger.

Byrd also said the team expressed an interest in him at the Combine.

Offensive line – It would shock no one if the Vikings selected an offensive lineman during the draft, especially with head coach Brad Childress' commitment to winning up front, but the team has masked their interests well. They aren't known to have visited with an offensive linemen at Winter Park, but they have either worked out or expressed an interest in a few prospects.

Boise State offensive tackle Daryn Colledge is the most highly ranked prospect who said he spoke with the Vikings at the Combine. Tackle Donald Penn of Utah State, who might not get drafted, also said he talked with the Vikings at the Hula Bowl. Jeromey Clary, another tackle prospect, has also had contact with Minnesota.

Center Donovan Raiola, who played for offensive line coach Jim Hueber at Wisconsin, said he also spoke with the Vikings at the Combine. The Vikings also worked out Michigan State center Chris Morris.

Guard-tackle prospect Charles Spencer is another possibility, but he might be drafted before the Vikings are slated to pick in the second round, and it seems unlikely the Vikings will draft an offensive lineman in the first round unless linebacker and quarterback value is gone and someone like tackle Winston Justice falls to the 17th pick.


Defensive line –
The needs for the Vikings are too pressing on the defensive line, but they have still expressed interest in a few prospects.

Northwestern defensive tackle Barry Cofield visited Winter Park, and the Vikings interviewed Penn State defensive end Tamba Hali, Michigan defensive tackle Gabe Watson and Tennessee DE/LB Parys Haralson at the Combine, according to those players.

The Vikings have also spoken with defensive end/outside linebacker prospect Brent Hawkins, a potential rookie free agent out of Illinois State.

Linebacker – This is the position of most interest to the Vikings with their new Tampa-2 defensive scheme being installed. Speed is the prized asset, and many of those the Vikings have visited with and shown interest in reflect that gift.

The team has flown in Iowa's Chad Greenway, Stanford's Jon Alston, Alabama's DeMeco Ryan and Miami (Fla.) Hurricane Roger McIntosh for visits at Winter Park. Each of them would be a logical fit at outside linebacker in the first or second rounds.
At the Combine the team also interviewed outside linebacker Ernie Sims of Florida State and inside linebackers D'Qwell Jackson of Maryland and Abdul Hodge of Iowa, according to those players. Sims will be red-flagged for his repeated concussions and still might not make it to the Vikings in the first round, but Jackson and Hodge would probably be strong considerations with the second-round picks.

The Vikings have also expressed interest in Ohio State middle linebacker Anthony Schlegel, according to his agent.

Cornerback – The Vikings visited with DeMario Minter of Georgia and Antonio Cromartie of Florida State at Winter Park. Despite making only one start at Florida State because of injuries, Cromartie had an impressive on-campus workout in front of scouts and could be a first-round selection. Minter is considered a mid- or late-round prospect.

At the Combine, they interviewed Penn State's Anwar Phillips, a mid- to late-round prospect.

Safety – The Vikings have spent extensive time talking with, visiting with and working out safeties. They brought in Tennessee's Jason Allen for a visit, but, like Ernie Sims, he may carry a medical red flag.

The Vikings worked out Deleware State's Sam Smith, a late-round selection or rookie free agent, and Howard's Antoine Bethea, a mid- to late-round possibility.

At the Combine, they interviewed Penn State's Calvin Lowry and Georgia's Greg Blue, and they have also expressed interest in Jacksonville State's Darren Williams, a probable rookie free agent.

The Vikings have surely been gaining additional information about many other prospects, but there are more than 30 interests we've uncovered since the end of the season.

How many of those will end up in Vikings purple? We'll find after this weekend's draft and post-draft rookie free agent flurry.

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