McKinnie Trial Could Affect Draft

The Vikings won't know the legal fate of Bryant McKinnie until a month after the NFL draft, but his most recent arrest and ensuing discipline likely will have to enter into their draft plans at some point.

A trial date of June 2 was set for Bryant McKinnie Friday for charges arising from an incident Feb. 24 outside a Miami nightclub.

While the trial date is convenient for team purposes, it brings into a brighter spotlight what the Vikings may be forced to do on draft weekend. A June 2 trial date comes after the draft, after the May organized team activities and well ahead of the start of training camp. But the bigger question may entail the role the McKinnie incident will play – both short-term and long-term – with the Vikings.

McKinnie has had his share of off-field issues since joining the Vikings. He is the only current Viking that was charged with involvement in the Lake Minnetonka boat scandal. He is also in the sights of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who is looking to clean up the NFL's image. A year ago, Pac Man Jones was suspended for violations of Goodell's toughened-up player conduct policy. At the time of his suspension, Jones hadn't been convicted of a crime, but his recidivist behavior led to a harsh penalty. The same could be in the offing for McKinnie.

Those familiar with the case's police report know that McKinnie was allowed to leave initially after an altercation with bar security – despite the police being called to scene. Hours later when McKinnie returned, police reports state that he swung a metal bar – a bar of the velvet-rope variety – in sight of law enforcement. That is serious.

While the case might never go to court and a plea agreement could be reached, it may not be enough to sway Goodell. McKinnie has put himself on a short list of players that have crossed the player conduct policy since it was enacted. The question now might not be if a suspension is coming, but how long it will it be?

If track record means anything, it will be between two and four games. For Vikings fans, the hope is that it won't come to that. But, from the business standpoint, heading into the draft, if the sentiment is that a suspension is coming, it must affect draft strategy.

Add offensive tackle to the list of possibilities for the Vikings' first-round pick. Not because of talent available at No. 17, but perhaps because of need – real or perceived.

SATURDAY NOTES

  • The Vikings have been rumored to be interested in DE/OLB Quentin Groves. However, that may have changed with the announcement that Groves underwent heart surgery March 27 to treat an abnormality in his heart's electrical system. The surgery may not affect his ability on the field, but with millions of dollars attached to first-round draft picks, it has to be a detriment to Groves' draft stock.

  • Once or twice is happenstance. Six times is a trend. The news late this week that Browns wide receiver Joe Jurevicius is recovering from a staph infection following knee surgery, on the surface looked like good news. One of the biggest fears among players that go under the knife is that there will be complications to the surgery. But the Browns have been more than just a little cursed by staph infections. Most Vikings fans became aware of the problem about mid-stream – when former Viking Brian Russell suffered a staph infection while playing for Cleveland. The problem became national news when center LeCharles Bentley – a costly free agent signing by the Browns – not only had his playing career threatened by an aggressive strain of staph infection, but it nearly cost him his life. In the backlash that followed, Browns officials did a sweep of the team's facility to eliminate anything that resembled a germ or a bacteria breeding ground. The latest incident of infection is the first since that cleansing – and the sixth on the total tally count.

  • From the "Read This Twice" Department comes this: Bryant Gumbel will no longer be the play-by-play man on the NFL Network. It would be a safe bet to say that most football fans that have heard games with Gumbel painting that game's picture aren't shedding tears or gnashing teeth. Reports say that Gumbel resigned, but the release sent out by the league quoting Gumbel's reaction is interesting. In the release, Gumbel says "I thoroughly enjoyed" being able to the call NFL games. However, the next sentence reads, "But we've agreed that we'd all be better served going in different directions." Who is "we?" Perhaps pessimism isn't as popular as it once was.

  • The term "no pressure" may not apply Sunday, as teams throughout the league turn their eyes to Atlanta. Wide receiver Malcolm Kelly, one of the players the Vikings had planned to bring in for a visit, spent much of the last two days badmouthing officials and team reps from the University of Oklahoma for his brutal 40-yard dash times. From the coaching staff to the medical staff, Kelly used his stage to throw all of them under the bus for running slower-than-expected 40 times. Thought to be the first wide receiver to get picked, his status in that regard is in jeopardy. But he's going to run again Sunday. Here's hoping he tears it up. If not, he has put attention on himself that wasn't warranted and, if he doesn't come through as promised, it could have a very adverse effect on his draft stock.


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