Day 2 Recap: Vikings Acquire Starting Veteran

The Vikings made a trade that will put former Philadelphia Eagles guard Artis Hicks in the starting role at right guard. It was a good start to a short second day of the draft in Minnesota. See what head coach Brad Childress had to say about the acquisition.

It's the hope of every NFL team to glean a starter on the second day of the draft. Often times, the decision-makers know that Day Two picks are risk/reward selections. Some pan out. Some don't. But the Vikings came out the second day of the draft as the first team to be done with their selection process, but with a player they are already pencilling in as a starting at the troublesome right guard position.

As the first day of the draft wound to a close Saturday night, coach Brad Childress got a call from his former head coach Andy Reid of the Eagles. Philadelphia was looking to move Todd Herremans, a left tackle for the Eagles last year, to become a starter at left guard and the Eagles had also drafted Winston Justice, who they plan to break in at guard, and Max Jean-Gilles.

All of that meant Reid was looking to move guard Artis Hicks, a player who has started 31 of 37 career games with Philadelphia and a player Childress was innately familiar with, so they wouldn't have too much salary cap money tied up at guard. At first, the Eagles wanted a fifth-round pick, but the Vikings countered with a second offer that the Eagles accepted.

"We thought it was a deal we could not pass up," Childress said. "Originally it started as a (request by the Eagles for) a fifth-round pick. We moved it to a sixth and flipped positions in the fourth round. Any time you can get a starter for something like that is a pretty good deal."

Childress praised what has become the mantra of the new coaching staff in both free agency and the draft – position flexibility. Hicks can play all four guard and tackle positions and play it at a high level. He was able to prove his versatility when playing under Childress with the Eagles and he was forced into a new position on short notice.

"I can remember a Monday night game against the Miami Dolphins a couple of years ago and (Eagles tackle) Tre Thomas comes with back spasms," Childress said. "Artis, who had been practicing at right guard and right tackle all week long, was our swing guy and jumps in at left tackle. Jason Taylor, who is an All-Pro in own right, he did a great job against him and he didn't get near the quarterback all night."

While coaches typically will hem and haw about projecting a role for a player, Childress was forthright with his projection of where Hicks will fit in. He's familiar with Childress and his philosophy and knows all the terminology of the offense – meaning he can hit the ground running from Day One. When asked if he would pencil in Hicks as a starter at right guard, Childress was short and succinct, simply saying, "Yes."

With the trade for Hicks, the Vikings' second day of the draft was limited to just two picks – defensive end Ray Edwards and safety Greg Blue. Edwards is a 21-year-old true junior out of Purdue and had a falling out with his coaching staff, while Blue is a big-hitting safety that the Vikings believe can be a difference-maker on special teams to start his career and potentially work his way into the lineup.

Childress said he likes the guys that get taken on the second day. For many of those players, the first three rounds of the draft were a disappointment. They wanted, and in some cases, expected, to hear their names called on the first day and had to go to sleep with the knowledge that their future was still unknown – something that gives them something of an edge when they finally do get the call to the NFL.

"When you take a guy on the second day, they have kind of a chip on their shoulder," Childress said. "They all wanted to go on the first day. It provides a little bit of extra motivation. They have a little different hop in their step."

In Edwards, the Vikings get a versatile defensive end that can play on both sides of the line initially and give the team depth at both positions. He's young and raw, but has the kind of upside potential that the Vikings scouts were excited about – a feeling that permeated throughout the defensive coaching staff.

"He's a tremendous talent," Studwell said. "We fully expect him to come in here and be a very compliant team player and that's already been stated to him. He's a player that has a world of potential, but is still somewhat raw. Whatever happened in the past is in the past. He's got a clean slate here."

In Blue, they got a player who has a wealth of experience and comes from a program known for developing NFL safeties. He's a player who some project could see time at linebacker in a Cover-2 system, but the Vikings intend to keep him at safety for the time being and get some use from him immediately on special teams.

"(Blue) is a strong safety from Georgia that is 6-2, 216 pounds," Fran Foley said. "He's a young man that ran a 4.54 40 at his Pro Day and he is a physical safety who played 49 games while at Georgia."

Blue continued a weekend-long trend of the Vikings taking a player who can play multiple roles and haven't had any injury or durability concerns. The buzz phrase of the weekend was "position flexibility" and all of the players other than QB Tarvaris Jackson fit that classification.

As the Vikings closed out their portion of the 2006 draft, Childress said that the organization was pleased with the players picked up on the draft and in free agency, as well as the progress it has made since the change was made at the top in the moments after the completion of the 2005 season. As he sees it, the draft was a big step forward, but just one step in a long process that began long before draft weekend and will continue long after.

"Every day that I come to work I'm looking to see how we can make this football team better," Childress said. "It doesn't make any difference if it's in the weight room or in the meeting room or with a draft pick or someone that was on the waiver wire. You have to look at every single day as you travel through this thing because the minute you blink or the minute you get satisfied is the minute that somebody (else) is moving ahead."

While the Vikings have the right to feel satisfied with their weekend, they're still driven to push ahead – even though they might take a second to acknowledge that, in their minds, they had a very good couple of days this weekend.

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