Personnel Options Are Many

There are conflicting messages being sent out when it comes to the Vikings' draft strategy, which shouldn't be considered unusual at this time of year.

The Vikings took a few initial steps in addressing their offensive needs by signing wide receiver Bobby Wade and tight end Visanthe Shiancoe in free agency. While more depth needs to be added at the receiver position, it would not be surprising if the Vikings look for help on defense with the seventh overall pick in the draft.

So far, the defensive side of the ball has not been addressed, as the only defender signed so far, linebacker Vinny Ciurciu, is more of special-teamer.

Defensive end Gaines Adams would not be a surprising target. There also is a chance Minnesota could trade down in the first round. The most likely scenario for this is if Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn is still available when Minnesota's pick comes up.

The Vikings have made it clear in recent weeks that they would consider taking Quinn, but with Tarvaris Jackson thought to be the quarterback of the future this makes little sense. It seemed telling that at his introductory news conference, Shiancoe talked about watching film with Jackson and working with him.

One theory on the Quinn talk is the Vikings are trying to convince teams they would take him in order to create more leverage in a trade. The Dolphins, who have the ninth pick, have expressed interest in Quinn and might be a good trade partner.

Vikings personnel chief Rick Spielman has said on more than one occasion that he plans to build through the draft and with young free agents. This means the Vikings are unlikely to move any picks without getting more selections in return, and it's also an indication the team might not necessarily be playing for 2007.

In addition to defensive end, the Vikings are sure to take at least one receiver, if not two, during the seven rounds. In fact, a trade down from the seventh pick could give the Vikings an opportunity to nab a player such as Southern Cal's Dwayne Jarrett or Ohio State's Ted Ginn Jr., without making a reach.

Coach Brad Childress, director of college scouting Scott Studwell and Spielman also likely will be looking to add depth at safety, linebacker, tight end and offensive line.


TEAM NEEDS

1. Wide receiver: The addition of Bobby Wade means the Vikings now have three veteran receivers under contract. The other two are Troy Williamson and Billy McMullen. Unfortunately, none figures as a No. 1 receiver. There isn't much more help left in free agency — the Vikings have been trying to land Kevin Curtis — but the draft does have depth at this position.

2. Defensive end: The uncertainty over the health of Erasmus James (knee) and the fact that Kenechi Udeze is more of a base end means it's imperative the Vikings get someone who can rush the passer. Ray Edwards, a 2006 draft pick, could provide some assistance in this area, but Minnesota must build some depth here. The problem is all of the top-notch, free-agent pass rushers had the franchise tag slapped on them.

3. Offensive line: The right side of the line has a couple of question marks with guard Artis Hicks and rookie tackle Ryan Cook finishing the season as starters. Veteran reserves Jason Whittle and Mike Rosenthal are gone, so help is needed.


DRAFT SCOUT SKINNY

The Vikings' first priority very well could be pass-rushing defensive end Gaines Adams. Adams increased his value at the NFL scouting combine, meaning he could be gone by the time the seventh pick comes up.

Getting a sufficient rush was a major problem last season. Adams had 12.5 sacks in 13 games last season and would make the tackle combination of Kevin Williams and Pat Williams that much more effective by creating pressure from the outside.

There is a feeling the Vikings may take a receiver with the pick because of their need at this position but the problem is, after Calvin Johnson is gone, no receiver might by worthy of being selected with the No. 7 pick. Remember, the Vikings took Troy Williamson with that very same pick two years ago and right now he is bordering on being a bust. The Vikings' favorite receiver — after Calvin Johnson — is believed to be Louisiana State's Dwayne Bowe.


QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't say (he was) underutilized. Hell, if you have Jeremy Shockey, what, are you going to take him off the field? They had two very good tight ends and Shockey is a Pro Bowl type tight end. But it's an opportunity that as you dig through the tape and you put all the pieces together and you see what he does, it's quite impressive when you break it all down." — Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman on whether free-agent tight end Visanthe Shiancoe wasn't used enough in the Giants' offense.



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