McGahee Injury Affects Vikings

You wouldn't think that a player the Vikings never had any personal interest in could affect their draft, but, like Joey Harrington last year, Willis McGahee was (emphasis on was) going to be critical to the Vikings 2003 draft.

Mike Tice told VU last April that he wanted to send a thank you card to the Detroit Lions when they selected Joey Harrington with the third pick of the 2002 draft.

Why? Because Harrington wasn't on the Vikings' radar screen for the draft. If he went in front of their pick at No. 7, it would mean the Vikings would actually be moving up a pick in their minds. Knowing that David Carr was going No. 1, the Vikings had in mind that they would be picking No. 6. When Harrington went, that pick moved to No. 5 and Bryant McKinnie, a player they were convinced they could never get was still on the board.

Much the same was true just a couple of weeks ago. Convinced Carson Palmer would go off the board to either Cincinnati, Dallas, Chicago or Carolina, the Vikings know their pick will be no worse than sixth on their board. With a decent chance one of those teams that doesn't get Palmer may take a run at Marshall QB Byron Leftwich, the odds of the Vikings' board moving to No. 5 was a possibility.

But the key player on the Vikings' board was RB Willis McGahee of Miami. The word among draft experts is that, if one of the teams in the six positions before the Vikings didn't grab McGahee, someone behind the Vikings would move up to make a trade to get him -- much like the Chiefs did to get Ryan Sims.

That all changed in the BCS Championship Game when McGahee suffered one of the ugliest knee injuries this side of Joe Theismann. Two torn knee ligaments later, McGahee is off the top-six charts and, probably for many teams, off the first round completely.

In a stunning move that borders on idiotic, McGahee, who would receive a $2.5 million insurance settlement to sit out the 2003 season, has opted to enter the NFL draft anyway. Convinced he can play by the start of the regular season, McGahee announced Tuesday that he will enter the draft. The question is why?

It's obvious that he will not be able to work out for teams prior to the draft and will be sidelined for minicamps and rookie instructional camps after the draft. He's even a longshot for most of training camp and even the regular season. Is a team going to burn a first-round pick on a player who is fresh off major knee reconstruction -- a career-threatening/ending injury for most top-flight RBs?

Whoever is advising McGahee should be fired and beaten with a sock filled with dimes. If he sat out one year, he could collect his insurance money, get healthy, work out for teams and see his draft stock move back up into the first round. As it is, he likely will be a second-rounder at best -- unless someone is willing to take a huge gamble and effectively give up on their first-round pick for this season on a player who screams Risk Pick to every coach and G.M. in the league.

While VU questions the intelligence that would prompt McGahee to enter the draft despite such a huge injury, the Vikings are also lamenting McGahee's health woes -- because it has turned their pick in the first round from No. 4 or 5 back to No. 5 or 6 (at least on their draft board).

* Former Vikings offensive coordinator Sherm Lewis has been named to that same position with the Detroit Lions. Lewis was under Maurice Carthon, who left the Lions to join Bill Parcells in Dallas. Lewis, who was the Lions wide receivers coach, will retain that duty along with his OC responsibilities.
* Another former Vikings coach has work. Andre Patterson, who was a defensive line coach under Dennis Green before leaving for the Saints, has taken the same job with the Browns.
* The Vikings signed four players who spent part of 2002 practicing with the Vikings -- RB Jeremy Allen, DL Cedric Killings, P Nick Murphy and LB Max Yates.

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