Heath Farwell was all smiles during the autograph session at the Vikings draft party. But a couple of months ago, he wasn't sure he would still be wearing purple when the 2009 season opens.
One Viking who wasn't sure if he was going to be part of Saturday's draft party was linebacker and special teams ace Heath Farwell. A free agent following the 2008 season, which was wiped out by a torn ACL suffered during the preseason, Farwell said he didn't know if the Vikings were going to step up with an offer for him when free agency began or not.
"I wasn't sure what was going to happen," Farwell said. "I took a couple of free-agent visits, because you never really know what's going on. It's part of the business, but I'm glad to be back."
Farwell met with the Browns and Patriots in the early days of the free-agent period. While his hope was to remain with the Vikings, he said he had to weigh all of his options.
"In this business, you don't know where you're going to be tomorrow," Farwell said. "When your contract is up, you have to see what else is out there. I was very comfortable here in Minnesota and I was happy we were able to get a deal done so I could stay here."
Although he was offered a contract by both the Browns and Patriots, in the end, the Vikings stepped up with a three-year, $7.75 million contract that includes $3.25 million in guaranteed money.
"It was pretty competitive between the three teams," Farwell said. "Ultimately, the Vikings took care of me and I was glad to be back. I didn't know if they would. They said they were interested, but, coming off an ACL injury, you never know what they're thinking. Coach Childress was instrumental in telling me that I was integral part of the team and that he wanted me back. In the end, it all worked out."
Saturday marked the third time in the last 11 years that the Vikings took a wide receiver in the first round of the draft. The last two couldn't have had more differing careers with the Vikings – Pro Bowler Randy Moss in 1998 and bust Troy Williamson in 2005.
Harvin was the third University of Florida player drafted by the Vikings since 2003, joining running back Ciatrick Fason (4th round, 2005) and linebacker Mike Nattiel (6th round, 2003). Saturday marked the first time the Vikings have taken a Gator in the first round of the draft.
A couple of teams mortgaged part of next year's draft to get players they coveted on this year's draft board. The Panthers traded their first round pick in the 2010 draft to the 49ers for the 43rd pick and a fourth-round selection. Carolina used the pick to take defensive end Everette Brown. The Broncos also traded their first-round pick in next year's draft to the Seahawks for the 37th overall pick, which they used to take cornerback Alphonso Smith.
With all the wheeling and dealing Saturday, two teams – the Bears and Cowboys – didn't make a pick on the first day of the draft. Eight other teams had just one pick in the first two rounds. The Broncos led the way with five picks – two in the first round and three in the second round.
Of the 32 picks made in the first round, 15 of the players were underclassmen that declared early for the draft, including seven of the top 12 selections.
The Jets made a big splash in the first round, moving up from the 17th pick to pick No. 5 in order to draft QB Josh Freeman. They paid a pretty stiff price, giving the Browns the 17th pick in the first, a second-round pick (No. 52 overall) and three players – defensive end Kenyon Coleman, cornerback Abram Elam and quarterback Brett Ratliff.
Offense dominated the early portion of Round One. Seven of the first nine picks were made on the offensive side of the ball, including three offensive tackles and two quarterbacks.
The always-wacky Raiders were at again with the seventh pick of the draft. Having their choice of any wide receiver available, with most analysts projecting that the team would take top-rated Michael Crabtree or speedster Jeremy Maclin. Instead the Raiders took Darrius Heyward-Bey, who many believed might still be on the board when the Vikings picked at No. 22. The Raiders followed that up by taking safety Michael Mitchell, who draft guru Mel Kiper had ranked as the 73rd best safety available.