This is the weekend that all the workouts, visits and interests turn into actual draft picks.
With that, here is what we've been able to discern over the last few months:
QUARTERBACK – Vikings coach Brad Childress has said that the team likes Brady Quinn, and the Vikings interviewed him at the NFL Scouting Combine as well as attended his pro day at Notre Dame. And after all the open talk from Childress and others about Quinn, we're led to believe they have little interest in him.
ProFootballTalk.com reports that the Vikings are interested in JaMarcus Russell should he fall to the seventh pick, but the consensus is that he'll be the first pick of the draft, so their potential interest in him likely has little significance come draft time.
Childress has also stated that if the team were to sign a quarterback, it would likely be of the developmental variety, and this one we're more inclined to believe.
They brought in Coastal Carolina quarterback Tyler Thigpen as part of their 28-player dinner and interview session two weeks ago, and we know they've also expressed an interest Josh Swogger.
Falling somewhere in between a first-round pick and the end of the draft is BYU QB John Beck, who was one of the Vikings' 30 formal interviews at the combine in February.
RUNNING BACK – There has been a lot of hype surrounding running back Adrian Peterson and the Vikings' potential selection of him if he's available with the seventh overall pick. The Vikings showed an interest in acquiring Sammy Morris in free agency before he signed with the New England Patriots, so we know there is a movement to add a running back to the roster.
If Peterson can stay healthy, he'd be a tremendous addition to take some of the load off of Chester Taylor. Peterson was one of the 28 prospects who visited Winter Park and he's got to be a legitimate interest of the Vikings if he's available and others – like safety LaRon Landry, wide receiver Calvin Johnson and defensive end Gaines Adams – are all off the board before the seventh selection. If Landry and Peterson are still available, there's no telling for sure which way the team will go.
If they don't get Peterson, there have been a few other running backs they could be targeting in the second through fourth rounds. We know they had Arizona's Chris Henry in for a visit and have been showing an interest in him for some time.
In the last 24 hours, we've also learned that Ohio State running back Antonio Pittman is a serious consideration for the team.
The Vikings have also shown an interest in fullback/special teamer Ryan Powdrell of USC, but that would likely be as an undrafted free agent if they bring him in. They were also showing an interest in Rutgers running back/fullback Brian Leonard at the Senior Bowl. He is expected to be a second- or third-round pick.
WIDE RECEIVER – Late this week, we've learned the Vikings are targeting WR Dwayne Jarrett in the second round if he's still available. He might not make it out of the first round, but if he does he will be a serious consideration for the Vikings. Robert Meachem, Jacoby Jones, Yamon Figurs and Roy Hall were all part of the team's visitors earlier this month. The only chance Meachen has to be selected by the Vikings is likely in a trade-down scenario where the team moves out of the top-10 selections in the first round. Jones and Figurs figure to be mid-round selections, with Jones more of a raw prospect with big upside and Figurs offering more value as a return man. Hall, the third receiver at Ohio State, is more likely a late-round selection or priority free-agent signing.
The Vikings also interviewed LSU WR Dwayne Bowe at the Senior Bowl, but, like Meacham, he probably isn't a good value unless the Vikings trade down in the first round. Another Senior Bowl interview for the team was East Carolina's Aundrea Allison.
TIGHT END – Things have been relatively quiet on this front since the signing of Visanthe Shiancoe and the contract restructuring of Jim Kleinsasser. However, it wouldn't be a shock to see the team try to find a tight end to stretch the field deep down the middle on passing downs. Delaware tight end Ben Patrick and Oregon tight end Joe Newton caught the team's attention at the Senior Bowl, but it isn't known what kind of follow-up contact they've had with them. It's even possible that Hall or another big-bodied sleeper wide receiver could be worked as a converted tight end.
OFFENSIVE LINE – The Vikings have been showing an interest in Tennessee offensive guard Arron Sears since early in the offseason, and he and Texas' Justin Blalock visited the Winter Park facilities. Each of those two could be second-round considerations for the Vikings, who are likely looking to add to the competition for Artis Hicks at right guard.
Another possibility as a late rounder or more likely undrafted free agent is Towson State offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod, whom the Vikings worked out.
The Vikings also showed interested in Michigan offensive lineman Rueben Riley Jr., who projects to a guard at the NFL level and is just that – a project who likely is more of an undrafted free agent type.
The biggest surprise of all would be if the Vikings don't draft a guard.
DEFENSIVE LINE – Clemson defensive end Gaines Adams and Maryland defensive tackle Conrad Bolston were both part of the team's early April get-together in Eden Prairie. The team was also interviewing Louisville DT Amobi Okoye at the Senior Bowl. The 19-year-old has been rising up draft boards and has been teetering on becoming a top-10 value on some analysts' boards. Florida defensive end Jarvis Moss, generally considered a late first-round or second-round value, was part of the Vikings' combine interviews.
Adams is expected to be drafted before the Vikings' seventh selection, and Bolston could make it through the entire draft without being selected.
LINEBACKER – This has been a relatively quiet position as far as uncovering much Vikings activity. Ben Leber and E.J. Henderson proved themselves as quality starters last year, but Henderson is on the move to middle linebacker with 2006 first-round draft choice Chad Greenway being inserted at weakside linebacker. Still, while the starters appear set, the team could also use more depth and it wouldn't be a surprise to see them draft a linebacker at some point this weekend.
CORNERBACK – The Vikings had two cornerbacks in for a visit that we know about. Projected first-round selection Darrelle Revis is among the two corners that vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman has spoken openly about, with Michigan's Leon Hall being the other. Given his openness on the topic, just like Quinn, we're inclined to discount them as a possibility at No. 7, despite bringing Revis in for a visit.
The team also visited with Notre Dame cornerback Mike Richardson, who is more likely an undrafted free agent that the team could look to sign on Sunday night as a project.
Another visitor to Winter Park was North Carolina State's A.J. Davis, whose athletic ability could make him a mid-round target. The Vikings also showed interest in him at the combine.
The Vikings wanted to bring in Kent State CB Usama Young for a visit to Winter Park, but his schedule did not allow.
Arkansas CB Chris Houston interviewed with the Vikings staff at the combine, but he is expected to be a late first-round pick. If he slides to the second, the Vikings could consider him with their No. 41 pick overall, although it's uncertain if he fits in with the desired qualities of a Tampa-2 cornerback.
Whether the Vikings select one of the aforementioned cornerbacks or not, it's pretty clear they would like to find some insurance behind Antoine Winfield (who hasn't been fully participating in the team's voluntary offseason workouts) and Cedric Griffin (whose nagging neck injury from last season leaves him working out, although maybe not fully certain once the pads go on and contact begins).
SAFETY – Physical safety LaRon Landry, an LSU product, has become a more recent focus of speculation and a strong potential pick at No. 7. He didn't visit Winter Park that we're aware of, and given the more public nature of official visits, that could be to keep their interest in him under wraps. In fact, we don't know of a safety that was part of the team's 28-player dinner in early April.
That said, we do know of a few they have spoken with, or whose agent they have talked with.
Wake Forest safety Josh Gattis received attention from the Vikings at his pro day, and Childress personally talked to safety Eric Weddle or Utah early in the offseason. The Vikings also interviewed John Wendling at the East-West Shrine game.
Surely, the team has spoken with many more players, but the gamesmanship is nearly over and the weekend is here.
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