The Vikings could be in a familiar spot on April 25, sitting with a draft selection in the low 20s and pondering the off-field issues of a talented wide receiver. The last time that happened, they selected Randy Moss.
At what point does talent outweigh an off-field litany of problems? In 1998, the Vikings had the 21st pick in the draft and Randy Moss
was scheduled to go somewhere in the top five or 10 picks. However, thanks to a checkered past that included drugs and numerous off-the-field incidents, Moss slipped past the top five. Then the top 10. Then the top 20.
Moss fell to the Vikings at No. 21 and then-head coach Dennis Green
, notorious for taking all the time off the 15 minute clock so the talking heads at ESPN would spend that time giving national air time to the Vikings, waited less than two minutes to pull the trigger. He wanted Moss and didn't want to listen to potential trade offers. The rest was history.
The Vikings may face a similar situation this month at the annual draft of college players. Percy Harvin
, viewed by many as one of the biggest potential game-changers in the draft, could very well be available when the Vikings pick at No. 22. He has been called by Urban Meyer
, his coach at the University of Florida, as the most explosive player he has ever seen in his years of coaching. His big-play ability is unquestioned, but his off-the-field run-ins with authority are so numerous that many teams may not even consider him in the first round. Considering the Vikings "Culture of Accountability," we may have to amend our Viking Update mock draft to take Harvin out of the Vikings' pick at No. 22.
The laundry list of reported offenses for Harvin dates back to high school and have to be considered points of concern for any head coach or general manager. Consider the following:
In 2004, Harvin was suspended from school for an altercation with the school's wrestling coach. After horseplay in the cafeteria, Harvin and the coach/teacher had an altercation that Harvin claims was blown out of proportion, but still leads to a two-game suspension.
In 2005, he was charged with misdemeanor assault for his role in a street fight and was suspended for two games during the football season of his senior year. Charges were eventually dropped.
During the basketball season that same year, a verbal dust-up with an opposing player turns into a fight that forced the referees to call an end to the game with time still remaining on the clock. Harvin's mother pulls her son from the team, claiming she has concerns for his safety. In a rare move, the Virginia State High School League bans Harvin from further competition.
While Harvin didn't have any significant incidents at Florida, his name has been linked to testing positive for marijuana at the Combine. Whether true or not, it is another instance of his name being dragged through the mud for off-the-field incidents. The accumulation of those have tarnished his name.
There is a good chance Harvin will still be on the board when the Vikings pick. The last time they took a wide receiver in the first round of the draft, the team felt the reward outweighed the risk of taking Moss. Will the same be true with Harvin? Stay tuned.
The Vikings officially ended the final chapter of the 2005 draft Monday when offensive tackle Marcus Johnson, the last player remaining on the team that included draft busts Troy Williamson and injury-plagued Erasmus James as two first-round picks taken weeks after the Moss trade, signed with the Raiders. Arguably the worst draft in Vikings history, just four years later, the team has nothing to show for it.
All of us at VU would like to extend our condolences to the family of radio personality Steve Cannon, who lost his battle with cancer Monday at the age of 81. Cannon was an icon of Minnesota radio who I happened to sit next to in the press box at the Metrodome for several years. Although they would feed the media at Vikings games, Cannon would show up with a pre-made sandwich that he would eat at every game. As a young reporter, the older media types often blew right past me without the least acknowledgement. Cannon was one of the most genuinely nice persons I ever met. He was always quick with a joke or just willing to shoot the bull during breaks in the action. Rest in peace, Steve. You will me missed and never be forgotten.