From Groans to Droughns

The Vikings have to wait until the seventh pick to make their first selection in the 2007 draft. All their planning took a temporary hit when the Browns signed Jamal Lewis. That initial concern about a ripple in the draft pond was likely reduced, if not eliminated, by offseason action in Cleveland.

Typically, it takes until days or even hours before a draft starts to demolish an otherwise solid mock draft. Those in the projection business were turned for a loop Thursday when the Browns signed Jamal Lewis to a one-year deal. Why? The conventional wisdom was that the Browns, sitting with the third pick in the draft, would select running back Adrian Peterson. But, having Lewis and Reuben Droughns under contract, that possibility seemed remote.

The significance to Vikings fans was simple – if Peterson made it past the Browns, he would, barring a blockbuster trade, make it to the Vikings. The three teams sandwiched between the Browns and Vikings – the Buccaneers, Cardinals and Redskins – have all invested heavily in the running back position. None of the front offices could justify drafting Peterson even if he was the top-rated player on their draft boards.

The potential of that took a hard U-turn Friday. In what history will likely regard as a B-level move, the Browns shipped Droughns off to the Giants. The significance of that move is that, with Lewis only signed to a one-year deal, Peterson can again be put in the middle of the cross-hairs for the Browns as the No. 3 pick.

With the Vikings sitting at No. 7 on the draft board, being able to logically eliminate players from the teams picking in front of them is essential to know, since the free-agent signing period addresses team needs prior to the draft. With the expectation again being that Peterson will be off the board, it likely guarantees that four players – JaMarcus Russell, Joe Thomas, Calvin Johnson and Peterson – will be gone and drops the question list from six players to two in front of the Vikings.

Just when you thought the mock draft boards would have be imploded, normalcy returns.

* Those people who were geeked up about the Vikings going after Ted Ginn with the seventh pick in the draft may have to re-think that position. Ginn, who was unable to work out at the Combine, is apparently going to skip his Pro Day workout at Ohio State today – a session Vikings V.P. Rick Spielman will attend. As if the specter of taking the second version of Troy Williamson – much less with the seventh pick in the draft again – wasn't enough to scare off the Vikings, this decision may seal the deal. While Ginn still may be able to impress the Vikings brass with a private workout, his inability to showcase his talents could not only drop him past the Vikings, but out of the top 10 overall picks.
* Former Viking Brian Russell, who spent the last couple of years with the Browns, signed a five-year deal with the Seahawks. If they're still salty about the Steve Hutchinson deal, this move likely helps them as much as the $49 million deal signed with Nate Burleson, who spent more time returning kicks than catching passes for the Seahawks.
* The Kevin Curtis (known in some circles as K-Cur) World Tour continues. He is expected to officially sign off with new agents today. After visiting the Vikings, while on a visit to Detroit Monday, he abruptly fired agent Tom Condon.
* The Vikings are being floated out as one of the teams interested in talking to guard Edwin Mulitalo, recently released by the Ravens.
* Is Tatum Bell staying with the Lions? It was thought that the trade for Dre Bly that brought Bell to Detroit was insurance in the event Kevin Jones isn't 100 percent. But the team also signed T.J. Duckett Friday, giving rise to some concern that, if Jones does return healthy, one ball may not be enough for these three. If Duckett is being viewed merely as a goal-line plunger, his addition makes sense. If a larger role is expected, Bell's time with the Lions will be on paper only.
* The Ravens deserve a tip of the cap. After cutting Jamal Lewis, there was talk that the team had a plan in place to trade for Willis McGahee. They accomplished that – giving up just two third-round picks and a seventh-rounder this year. The team then turned around and signed McGahee to a seven-year extension for $40 million, with $15 million guaranteed. In NFL terms, under his rookie contract for this year, the Ravens could cut McGahee loose as early as 2009 in the event of an injury and walk away without a serious cap hit. Even if he pans out to be everything they want, he could play for five years before the heavy lifting in his contract kicks in – at which point he will almost certainly be cut.
* Packers fans hoping that arena rock acts would consider hitting their town are sleeping restless tonight. The Packers are installing a new turf at Lambeau Field and team officials have said it has rendered the stadium unable to house outdoor concerts in the summer. So hopes of Mick Jagger coming to town have been dashed …at least until the Steel Wheelchair Tour of 2008.

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