Vikings' upcoming visits, offense

The names continue to trickle out that are expected to make a visit to Minnesota when they invite their allotment of potential draft prospects on April 8-9. What follows is a partial list of players who have been reported to visit Winter Park this coming week with analysis of their draft values, assets and potential liabilities, along with how they might fit in with the Vikings.

Draftee prospects to visit this week

Various sources (including Viking Update and Scout.com on most of these) have reported the following list of offensive players as scheduled to visit with the Vikings later this coming week at Winter Park.  Here’s a quick analysis of what the team might be thinking as they roll out the red carpet:

QB Josh Freeman (6-5 ¾, 248, 4.86) Kansas State – Although it might be hard to get past the Jets (at No. 17) and the Bucs (at No. 19), the Vikings need to do their homework on this talented young quarterback prospect.  Freeman has a terrific arm and unlimited upside potential, but most think he will need some time to develop.  Brad Childress may not have more time to develop another young quarterback who isn’t ready to lead what has become a veteran team on the verge perhaps.  Bringing in Freeman could simply be a smokescreen signal to others potentially willing to trade up for him if he’s still on the board when Minnesota picks at No. 22.

WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (6-1 5/8, 210, 4.28) Maryland – Seemed like a likely possibility for the Vikings in early mock drafts, but it now appears that his stock has risen to the point that he likely will be off the board by the time Minnesota picks.  He scares some fans as being another Troy Williamson, but he’s less likely to become the all-out bust and has tremendous long-range potential.  However, he could go as early as No. 7 (Oakland) and may not make it to the bottom half of Round One.  However, bringing him in clearly signals the team’s interest in adding a wide receiver early in this year’s draft.

WR Percy Harvin (5-11 1/8, 192, 4.40) Florida – A player frequently linked to the Vikings in numerous mock drafts, the primary question of matching Harvin with the Vikings will likely be about character; which could very well be the primary reason behind their interest. It's uncertain if Harvin will visit, but the Vikings reportedly worked him out privately.  On the field, Harvin could be a dynamite slot receiver who can navigate the shorter routes and then run after the catch, but with some home run speed and separation that the Vikings have lacked from that spot.  Worth noting is that Minnesota’s pursuit of T.J. Houshmandzadeh would seem to indicate their desire to upgrade in the slot, more so than the other outside receiver slot, where Sidney Rice and Aundrae Allison will get one more chance to (stay healthy) step up.  If Harvin’s character checks out, and he’s on the board, Harvin would be a legitimate value at No. 22.  If he’s one of multiple players they still like then, a trade down could be in the cards.

WR Kenny Britt (6-2 7/8, 210, 218, 4.47) Rutgers – Another talented receiver with some character concerns.  Some scouts have compared Britt talent-wise to Terrell Owens.  However, the concern is the same in that he could become a distraction.  A key factor in the Vikings being comfortable with Britt could be if veteran wide receivers coach George Stewart comes away confident that he could handle Britt (or Harvin).  Britt also makes sense for Minnesota in a trade-down scenario.

WR Hakeem Nicks (6-0 7/8, 212, 4.52) North Carolina – A good-size, physical, productive possession and run-after-the-catch-type receiver who fits the West Coast Offense nicely.  Nicks would be a reach at 22, but a solid value if they were to trade down.

WR Juaquin Iglesias (6-0 7/8, 207, 4.49) Oklahoma – More likely a consideration for the Vikings in the second or third round, Iglesias would be a very nice fit in the WCO because of his size, consistency catching the ball, and ability to run after the catch.

OT Eben Britton (6-6 ½, 310, 5.14) Arizona – Probably the most safe, solid, sure-fire choice for the Vikings at No. 22…if he’s still there.  With Britton, the Vikings would know what they are getting.  He could step in and start at right tackle from Day One.  He may never be an outstanding pass protector against premier speed rushers, but he has the look of a decade-long starter and comes with zero character concerns.  Plus, he can get even bigger and stronger and might develop into a Pro Bowl-caliber right tackle.

OT Phil Loadholt (6-7 7/8, 332, 5.45) Oklahoma – Another big, physical, potential road-grader-type who played left tackle but would project to right tackle for the Vikings.  Loadholt would be a solid value for Minnesota with their second-round pick, but he may not last that long given the premium there is for bookend tackles.  Loadholt also has some character questions, which the team will likely sort out during his visit.

Coming soon:  Defense

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