Top tackles hard to come by at No. 22

Getting a solid offensive tackle in the bottom third of the first round might sound like an easy task, but draft history over the last decade would say otherwise. There haven't been that many taken and even fewer that have become mainstay starters.

Is there something about getting offensive tackles late in the first round?

The numbers would appear to be against the Vikings if they intend to use their first-round pick (currently No. 22) to take an offensive tackle. Since it's too early to pass judgment on the 2008 draft as to whether the picks late in the first round are successes or not, the past decade (1998-2007) has showed that trying to get an offensive tackle in the latter portions of the first round is not only a crapshoot, but not very likely.

In that span, the only offensive tackle taken at the 22nd pick was Chris McIntosh of the Seattle Seahawks in 2000. He lasted just three years in the league before recurring neck problems forced him to retire in 2003. The bad news doesn't stop there.

From 2001-07, there were only three offensive tackles taken on the first round that were available when the team with the 22nd pick made its selection. The 49ers took Joe Staley with the 27th pick of the 2007 draft as well as Kwame Harris with the 26th pick of the 2003 draft, while Chicago took Marc Colombo with the 29th pick of the 2002 draft. The fact that one team has taken two of the players chosen doesn't bode well for the availability of a top offensive tackle when the Vikings pick.

That isn't to say, however, that talent hasn't come close. In 2005, the St. Louis Rams took Alex Barron with the 19th pick. The year before that, thanks to flip-flopping with the Vikings, the Dolphins took Vernon Carey with the 19th pick of the draft. The Lions also fit in prominently to that mix as well. George Foster, who was recently released by the Lions after being traded from Denver as part of the Dre Bly trade two years ago, was taken by the Broncos in 2003 with the 20th overall pick. In 2001, the Lions took Jeff Backus with the 18th pick. The year before that, Detroit drafted Stockar McDougle with the 20th pick. Shockingly, in 1999 the Lions also drafted Aaron Gibson (No. 27 overall) to be their tackle of the future.

You have to go all the way back to 1998 to find a time when two offensive tackles went in the final 10 picks of the first round – Mo Collins to the Raiders and Victor Riley to Kansas City. Collins played six years in the league in made 64 career starts. Riley played eight years in the league with the Chiefs, Saints and Texans and made 93 career starts.

Although the draft class at offensive tackle looks to be deep and loaded with talent, finding that talent in the final third of the first round has proved to be difficult for NFL teams. If the Vikings want to guarantee a star player, they may have to move up, because history isn't exactly on their side with this one.

THURSDAY NOTES

  • The NFL will release its schedule Tuesday in a two-hour prime-time special on NFL Network. Look for the Vikings to have at least three prime-time games – be they on Sunday, Monday or Thursday.

  • One thing we do know about the schedule is that the Vikings will open the season on the road. The regular-season opener is Sept. 13. That date will be filled at the Metrodome when the Twins host the Oakland A's. With the Packers, Bears and Steelers already scheduled for prime time games that weekend, the Vikings will be opening on the road against one of five opponents – Arizona, Carolina, Cleveland, Detroit or St. Louis.

  • The contract signed by Darren Sharper is loaded with playing-time incentives. It is just a one-year deal with a $1 million base salary. He received a $200,000 signing bonus and a roster bonus that will pay him $250,000 if he is still on the team after six games and another $250,000 if he on the team after 12 games, according to reports out of New Orleans. If he remains on the team for the 2009 season, he will earn a total of $1.75 million.

  • The trial date for Kevin Williams and Pat Williams in their appeal of their four-game suspension will be heard June 15. Because of that late date, the Vikings may be looking for an insurance policy in defensive tackle in the middle rounds of this month's draft. Keep in mind, however, that they also re-signed Fred Evans and Jimmy Kennedy and drafted Letroy Guion last year.


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