After using their first two selections on offense, the Vikings finally addressed their defense, adding another playmaker in cornerback Marcus McCauley in the third round.
McCauley is blessed with considerable athletic ability, but had an awful senior season on a Fresno State team that went in the tank early and got off to a woeful 1-7 start. His stock dropped sharply, but the Vikings saw plenty to like about the cornerback who, coming into last season, looked like a lock to be gone by the early portion of the second round.
"He's a big corner with speed – you put a premium on guys like that," head coach Brad Childress said. "He's physical enough to stick a knife in a sweep, play bump-and-run and then hang on your hip and cover."
McCauley is expected to help fill the void left by the release of Fred Smoot earlier this year. Expected to be a nickel corner battling for playing time behind Antoine Winfield and Cedric Griffin, McCauley is expected to make an immediate impact – whether with the defense or as a special teams ace.
"What we do is use an alert with a plus," Viking Vice President of Player Personnel Rick Spielman said. "Everybody is responsible for evaluating what they do on special teams. This kid is not only a good corner, but he's good special teamer. That's how you build your team and build your depth. If he's not going to be a starter, you know he's going to be helping you on special teams on Sunday."
Clearly many teams were troubled by the drop in production by McCauley as a senior, as his strock dropped him into the third round despite being rated in the top five among cornerbacks by many scouting services. The Vikings believe that his 2006 season was an aberration and that, with the proper coaching, he can return to the form he had in 2005 when he was viewed as one of the top shutdown corners in the college game.
"We know what we saw in '05," Spielman said. "In '05, we felt he was definitely a first- or second-round corner. To get a kid where we got him with that kind of natural ability was a good value where we got him."
With McCauley in the fold, the Vikings addressed some of the most pressing needs – adding explosive offensive playmakers and a cornerback who can make big plays on the defensive side. Add to that the addition of an extra pick in the fourth round, the Vikings head into Sunday's portion of the draft with a lot of options at their disposal, which could result in more movement as the team looks to build its new-look team with hungry youngsters.
"Tomorrow we have two fourth-round picks," Spielman said. "That gives us some flexibility that if there's a player that we really covet, we can move up, we can still move back or just stick and take a guy we don't want to pass on."
But they may be hard-pressed to fill as many need areas as they did Saturday.
McCauley's 2005 Season Left Vikings Impressed
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