Move Up or Stay Put?

With all the recent talk of the Vikings moving up in the draft, the possibility of standing pat and staying put could be the most logical idea, since the draft may be weaker at the top and deeper in the middle than many of the previous drafts.

The Vikings are likely to be the talk of the draft long before they're scheduled to be on the clock tomorrow. While they're not scheduled to pick until No. 17, they have been linked to making a trade up with several teams, including the Jets (4th), Bills (8th), Browns (12th), Ravens (13th), Eagles (14th), Broncos (15th) and even the Dolphins with the pick directly in front of them.

But there may be a new school of thought emerging at Winter Park – stay where you're at and make all of five of your picks on the first day. Many scouts and draft analysts are of the belief that the Class of 2006 is a different breed of rookie crop. There isn't a consensus as to who will be in the top 10, but the draft if believed to be about 20 deep in potential blue-chip players. Beyond that, however, it becomes something of a crapshoot.

The parity of the draft from the final third of the first round through the second round has been cited as one of the reasons the Broncos made a trade last week to drop their 22nd pick in the draft to acquire an additional pick in the second and third rounds. From where the Vikings currently stand, they can get an impact player at No. 17 – whether it be a quarterback if Jay Cutler slips downs in the draft or a much-needed linebacker if the draft falls more to form. Either way, it might be in the team's best interests to stay where they are, get value for the picks they received for Daunte Culpepper and Nate Burleson and show faith in their talent evaluation staff.

With a new regime in place, the draft will be the first report card on how its long-term vision of the team will be played out. If they really want to make a splash, perhaps the best way to do that is not giving away picks to move up a few slots to grab one player, but rather standing pat, using all their picks and showing Vikings fans that they have an eye for the talent coming out in the draft this year.

* In what became something of a media event (albeit a horribly-kept secret considering how many websites had previews of the new designs hours before the official unveiling), a shocking number of fans showed up at Mall of America to see the Vikings new uniform designs. Purists may not like the new white stripes on the shoulders or the black shoes (last seen on Vikings uniforms in 1983) but the uniforms remained pretty true to the traditional uniform and helmet design. I'm no Mr. Blackwell, but when the team tanked the purple pants back in 1964 when an equipment snafu had the team wearing both purple jerseys and purple pants, it was a sound idea. No men look good in purple pants – with the possible exception of the Joker from the "Batman" series. But, the reaction of the fans at M.O.A. and the local media has been positive.
* Is Matt Millen drinking the Kool-Aid or is he trying to get his team involved in trade talks? He said Thursday that the Lions, who have taken a wide receiver in the first round of the draft each of the last three years and haven't taken a defensive player on the first round of the draft since before the turn of the century, indicated the Lions might be interested in QB Jay Cutler with the ninth pick. No wonder fans of the Lions have held the Millen Man March. Memo to Millen: when you're playing Texas Hold ‘Em, you don't go "all-in" with a deuce-five off-suit.
* There are some players at the top of the draft who have some character issues that may concern the Vikings, including OT Winston Justice, DT Brodrick Bunkley, LB Ernie Sims and DBs Jason Allen and Jimmy Williams. Will those red flags be enough to keep them off the Vikings roster? If you believe what the Triangle of Authority said at the team's press conference earlier this week, it's a distinct possibility.
* What school will come out of the first round as the one that supplied the most players to the NFL? According to the VU mock draft, USC will have four players going in the first round, but they're not the only power school that could be involved. We also have Ohio State and Florida State each having four players selected as well.

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