The Draft: The Annual Rolling of the Dice

The Vikings believe Bryant McKinnie can be an All-Pro for years to come, but, when it came to drafting him, he was the "other guy" -- the player the Vikings didn't really want. What a difference a few years can make on perceptions as to who is a lead-pipe lock to be a star and who really ends up being one.

This week all of the preparation and gamesmanship of the NFL front offices will come to a head with the annual NFL draft. Most teams have spent the better part of the last two months and almost every waking hour of the last two weeks stacking their board, upgrading and downgrading players and making decisions that will affect each of the league's 32 franchises.

Remember Ryan Sims? The Vikings wanted him badly. And they thought they had him. The team appeared to have slid under the clock when the Cowboys ran out of time on the 15-minute clock (sound familiar?). They were convinced to the point that they were quietly celebrating when news came back from New York City that the Vikings had turned in their card with Sims name on it.

Instead, the NFL ruled that a trade made by the Cowboys and Chiefs would stand and that K.C. had the right to make the pick at No. 6, where they took Sims. The Vikings got Bryant McKinnie with the next pick. Flash forward. McKinnie has a new long-term extension that will keep him a fixture on the left side of the offensive line, while Sims is an unqualified bust for the Chiefs, part of a D-line rotation that hasn't been at all effective.

When the dust settles on Monday, there will be 32 teams believing they had one of the best drafts ever, that players they took were actually rated much higher by them than by any other team in the league and that this current rookie crop will help push that franchise over the top. Unfortunately, history will note that about 20 of those teams will have a draft that will be viewed as marginal at best and 10 of those will have drafts that will be seen as busts.

So don't get overly excited or disappointed about the Vikings' draft next weekend. We really won't know for two or three years if their choices were good ones or bad ones.

* VU will be releasing what is hoped to be (but never is) its final 2007 two-round mock draft within the next 24 hours or so and, for the Vikings fans, look forward to seeing a new pick in their spot.
* The Raiders opened up about $1.6 million in cap space Saturday by telling a couple of former Vikings to hit the bricks – releasing offensive lineman Brad Badger and defensive end Lance Johnstone.

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