Sid Hartman: Once Johnson was picked, Peterson was a no-brainer
The Georgia Tech receiver and Oklahoma running back were ranked 1-2 by the Vikings, who were thrilled when the latter fell to them in the NFL draft.
By Sid Hartman, Star Tribune
Last update: May 02, 2007 – 8:14 PM
Rick Spielman, Vikings vice president of player personnel, said the team had Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson ranked as the No. 1 player in the draft. If he had been available, Johnson would have been the only receiver the Vikings would have taken in the first round.
Ranked second on the Vikings draft board was Oklahoma running back
Adrian Peterson,who they were fortunate to get with the seventh overall pick.
"[Johnson] was No. 1 on our board, and I think it was pretty much a consensus across the league, just because he has some unique physical traits that you don't see," Spielman said. "In four or five years I haven't, and even longer back you can probably go. ... A guy with that physical stature and that speed and that ability to go up and get the ball and everything. He's a unique prospect."
Had Peterson not been available, it is possible the Vikings would have taken a defensive back such as Michigan's Leon Hall or one of the top defensive linemen who their scouts rated highly.
While ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. and others are giving the Vikings high marks for doing a good job, Spielman admits you can't judge the talent until they get on the field and help the Vikings win games.
"But we were very pleased with the way the board fell to us," Spielman said. "We feel we got good value as we went through the second, third -- all the way down through the draft -- that we got good value at our picks."
The Vikings didn't take a quarterback until the seventh round, when they drafted Tyler Thigpen of Coastal Carolina, because Spielman said the club is happy with the current group of quarterbacks.
"We feel very good about Tarvaris Jackson, we feel very good about Brooks Bollinger, they fit what we do from an offensive standpoint as far as the scheme goes," Spielman said. "Coach [Brad] Childress, I know, is extremely high on these young guys as [is] everybody else in the organization, so our biggest thought going into this thing was going out and getting some playmakers around the young quarterback.
"And if we could do that, that alleviates some of the pressure [on] him where he doesn't have to make a big play every play. As we grow as an organization, as these young players -- because we're going to be a very young team next year with the way we're building this thing -- that as these players all grow together, hopefully they'll be together a long time and we'll have some success."
Did Spielman think they were able to draft some sleepers on the second day?
"We nabbed a couple of those guys," he said. "The [linebacker] Rufus Alexander kid's a very good football player from Oklahoma and has been very productive. We had a higher grade on him but we were able to get him in the sixth round. Aundrae Allison [East Carolina]is a very talented and athletic receiver that we thought we had good value there. And even the Brian Robison kid [Texas] is a defensive end that was the best pass rusher left on the board for us and also a very good special teams player. So we were extremely happy with our second day, and hopefully those guys will pan out."
Although the Vikings have a need for offensive linemen, they didn't draft any. They will bring in several offensive linemen as free agents.
"We were able to nab five offensive linemen, the top five offensive linemen on our board that didn't get drafted," Spielman said.
The Vikings will find out a lot more about these players and their athletic ability when they hold their rookie camp this weekend.
Moss in ideal spot
Cris Carter, a former teammate of Randy Moss with the Vikings, told the Boston Globe that he is confident the receiver couldn't be in a better spot than with the New England Patriots. Carter, now an analyst on HBO's "Inside the NFL," said: "People are going to be pleasantly surprised. He does need structure help, and he has got it there. Randy is not going to have a problem because of what they have as far as structure with the players and the front office and the coach."