Names Emerging Early for Vikes

The process of evaluating rookie talent has already begun for the Vikings, and a few names have already come up as possibilities.

The Vikings aren't even a week removed from their final game of the 2002 season, yet the college draft at the end of April is already looming around the corner and the Vikings are looking for some of the same luck that they received last year.

If you recall, the Vikings were hoping that two of the teams in front of them would take quarterbacks in the 2002 draft. With the Vikes having no interest in taking a QB in the first round, it was seen as free move-ups in the draft. As is turned out the Texans took David Carr with the first pick and the Lions quickly followed with Joey Harrington, allowing Bryant McKinnie, a player the Vikings never thought would slide to them, to be available.

So it is again that two, if not three, teams will seriously look at quarterback. Many believe the Bengals, in hopes of turning the tepid franchise around, will use the first pick on QB Carson Palmer. Early speculation also has both the Cowboys and Bears seriously considering taking a QB, although VU sources with Dallas aren't nearly as sold on the idea as some draft analysts are and will be.

Some names emerging early as talent the Vikings already have their eyes on include CB Terence Newman of Kansas State, who many scouts see in the Champ Bailey or Quentin Jammer mode as a top-five prospect who may slip just because of team need at the top. Others being thrown around are defensive tackles Jimmy Kennedy of Penn State and William Joseph of Miami, as well as linebacker E.J. Henderson of Maryland.

While it's still much too early to speculate on where any of those players will drop, VU will be following up on the draft for you in the coming weeks and months and looking not only at the Vikings' pick, but also those picking in front of the Vikes to try to give an idea who could be the next blue-chip youngster in the fold.

* As reported earlier this week, Mike Tice is scheduled to leave today for San Antonio to meet with owner Red McCombs about the future of the team. Expect some changes to follow, especially in the area of special teams.
* Former Viking Rich Gannon won the league MVP award Wednesday. His 19 first-place votes beat out Green Bay's Brett Favre, who had 15 votes. Atlanta's Michael Vick received one first-place vote and finished in a tie for fourth. The only other player to get more than one vote was Titans QB Steve McNair, who pulled in 11 first-place nods.

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