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Archive for Sunday, April 27, 2003

Vikings experience another draft debacle

April 27, 2003

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— The Minnesota Vikings insisted they got the guy they wanted, even though an embarrassing delay cost them two spots on the draft board when the clock ran out on them.

Busy in trade talks with three teams, the Vikings missed the deadline to make the No. 7 pick in Saturday's NFL draft and took Oklahoma State defensive tackle Kevin Williams with the ninth selection.

Yes, for the second straight season, there was draft-day drama at Winter Park.

Here's what happened Saturday, according to Minnesota coach Mike Tice:

l The Vikings targeted Williams as their top choice two weeks ago.

l They realized that Williams would be available a few slots later, so they started looking for ways to move down and get a late-round pick or two in return.

l Also discussing deals with Jacksonville and New England, Minnesota agreed on a trade with Baltimore to get the Ravens' No. 10 pick, as well as a fourth- and sixth-round selection in exchange for the No. 7 choice. The Vikings submitted the deal to the league, but Baltimore didn't submit its part in time.

l Meanwhile, the two teams immediately behind Minnesota on the board -- Jacksonville and Carolina -- rushed their cards to the podium in New York and made their picks before the Vikings.

Speaking to local media a few minutes later, Tice acknowledged he was irritated.

"I'm ticked," he said. "I felt that would've been a hell of a deal to get your guy and two more picks."

The Vikings have made some good first-round picks in the past, especially when they got one of the biggest steals in the history of the draft in 1998 by picking wide receiver Randy Moss at No. 21.

But for the second straight year, they made a humiliating mistake.

Last year, the Vikings were sandwiched at No. 7 between Dallas and Kansas City.

The Cowboys, knowing they could get safety Roy Williams with the eighth pick, swapped selections with the Chiefs, who then grabbed Minnesota's top choice, defensive tackle Ryan Sims.

However, the 15 minutes that teams are given to make their pick in the first round, ran out on Kansas City before it could get word of the trade to league official Joel Bussert.

A Vikings official was approaching the podium with Sims' name written on the card, but an assistant equipment manager of the Chiefs' was blocking his path. The trade was allowed, and Kansas City got Sims.

The Vikings then took offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie, who held out until Nov. 1. He showed serious promise in the final stages of the season and will anchor their line in 2003 with center Matt Birk and left guard Chris Liwienski.

Contract talks this summer with Tom Condon, who represents Williams, don't figure to be easy, either, because of the unofficial slotting system that determines the size of the signing bonus and amount and length of the contract for first-rounders. There's a clear difference in what the No. 7 and No. 9 picks get.

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