2003 NFL Draft 2003 NFL Draft

Oops, they did it again

Talking trade with three teams, clock runs out on Vikings

Posted: Saturday April 26, 2003 6:24 PM
  Frank Acevedo Fred Otto (center) and Don Renzulli of the NFL wait for Vikings director of pro personnel Frank Acevedo to hand them a card announcing Minnesota's pick. AP

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) -- 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 head coach Mike Tice:

  • The Vikings, in need of a dominant inside pass rusher to play next to emerging star Chris Hovan, targeted Williams as their top choice two weeks ago, assuming that Kentucky defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson would be taken. (The New York Jets traded up to get him at No. 4.)

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

    Shortly after everything went down, Tice addressed a gathering of more than 4,000 purple-clad fans at the team's practice facility and received a smattering of boos.

    "Hang in there, hang in there," he said. "We did get the guy we wanted."

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

    "That would've been a hell of a deal to get your guy and two more picks," he said.

    The Ravens, while acknowledging the trade was agreed upon, contended it was not made official because they didn't speak with league official Joel Bussert.

    "The deal was not consummated," general manager Ozzie Newsome said at Baltimore's headquarters. "A deal is not a deal until I talk to Joel Bussert, and I never talked to Joel Bussert."

    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 consecutive year, they made a humiliating mistake.

    The Vikings were sandwiched at No. 7 between Dallas and Kansas City in 2002.

    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 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.

    Negotiations with McKinnie's agents were mostly contentious. 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.

    Williams, however, will be a big boost to the Vikings' defensive line.

    Also capable of playing on the end, Williams -- 6-foot-4, 304 pounds -- should help take double-teams away from Hovan.

    "I'm very happy," said Hovan, whose father called him with the news during his cousin's wedding. "I think the prospect we got is a good one.

    "This kid is a proven pass-rusher. He's a real athletic kid, and I think he's going to fit well into George O'Leary's scheme of defense."

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