Trades Could Be Key to 2003 Draft

VU hooked up with a personnel man from the NFL fresh off scouting the league's Class of '03 rookie crop and got some interesting nuggets of information -- now you have them too.

VU touches base with more than just the Vikings when it comes to getting information. Several teams help us out when it comes to answering questions. One such personnel man spent much of last week evaluating college talent at the Combine at Indianapolis and had several interesting observations.

Because of his status with another team, he asked not to be identified by name, but agreed to give some honest assessments. Here's what he came away from Indy with.

* Trades are going to be the order of the day on draft day. Of teams holding the the first seven picks, he said only Detroit is likely to not be interested in moving because it loves WR Charles Rogers and he should be available at No. 2.
* The teams most likely to trade down in the top seven picks -- Houston, Dallas and Minnesota (in that order).
* There is a good chance no running backs will be taken in the draft until Tennessee with the 28th pick, and they're not even a certainty.
* A run on defensive tackles could strangle the first round with six or even seven going in the first 20 picks. As our source said, "Once the first one -- (Jimmy) Kennedy from Penn State -- goes, other teams will start going and the panic will start." He said this is where several trades could take place, as teams jockey for position in the first 10-18 picks to assure getting the run-stuffer they want.
* QB Byron Leftwich could be the key to the first round. He could go anywhere from No. 3 (if someone trades with Houston to get ahead of Chicago) to No. 9 to Carolina. He almost surely won't fall out of the top 10, but several teams are concerned. "His ankle has been injured two years in a row and some teams think it may be something that bothers him his entire career." That being said, he still thinks teams sitting at picks Nos. 5-8 could be the teams getting the most trade interest on draft day if Leftwich lasts beyond Chicago. Dallas, Arizona, the Vikings and Jacksonville are all in front of Carolina and, with several teams looking to fill a QB need, the offers could be pretty sweet.
* Minnesota likely will lock into a lineman on the first round wherever they pick. "The Vikings guys I saw were very interested in the linemen on both sides of the ball, but didn't have the same type of interest with other players. They may trade down, but it seemed pretty clear they were focused on defensive line and offensive line when watching the players work out. Maybe they showed more interest in the linebackers and secondary guys, but I didn't see it."

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