McCombs: Vikes Stay at No. 7

With two weeks until the Vikings replenish their team through the college draft, trade talk has died down and, as the dust is settling in front of them, the Vikings would appear to be prepared to stay at No. 7 and take a player they really want.

The Vikings have begun hunkering in their command bunker for the April 26 draft, which is just two weeks from today. But word is filtering out of the command post that the Vikings might not be as willing to trade their pick as earlier thought.

Owner Red McCombs, who met with staff to discuss what players the team is interested in, said Friday that the talk of trade hasn't come up much. It should be noted, however, that most trades -- barring the No. 1 selection -- wouldn't be made until draft day when a slot comes on the clock and a player that teams in the later portions of the first round have a shot at becomes available.

As it stands now, the draft board is beginning to take shape. Nobody is willing, at this point, to meet the trade demands of the Bengals at No. 1, so it looks more likely they will end up with QB Carson Palmer. The Lions continue to be a lock with WR Charles Rogers. At No. 3, we could well see the first trade of the draft, with the Texans trading down for more picks. If that happens, anyone could go, from DTs Dewayne Robertson or Jimmy Kennedy, CB Terence Newman, DE Terrell Suggs, OT Jordan Gross, QB Byron Leftwich or WR Andre Johnson. If the Texans keep the pick, don't be stunned to see Johnson be their man.

At No. 4, Chicago may also be looking trade. If they stay at that spot, Suggs or Robertson looks to be the man they tag. Trades could also be part of the future for the Cowboys and Cardinals, but, if the first four picks go as they are expected to, the Vikings at No. 7 would still have a guarantee of landing either Robertson, Kennedy or Newman.

At this point, it's looking more likely that Kennedy will be the man who is still on the board, and the Vikings would be ecstatic if that happened. While they've publicly talked up Robertson, Kennedy is still viewed by many as the top DT on the board and, if he's still available, the Vikings will likely snap him up -- unless someone makes a trade offer they simply can't refuse.

SATURDAY NOTES
* As teams continue to look at trades to move up in the draft, VU continues to alter its mock draft board. Look for an update to our mock draft Monday and, as the draft gets closer, VU will expand its mock draft to a second a round -- letting draftniks weigh in whether they agree or disagree with our selections.
* Talks continue with the agent for Daunte Culpepper, but no progress has been reported.
* The Bears had a long meeting with QB Chris Simms, which many see as an indication the Bears will pass on Leftwich with their first-round pick at No. 4 overall.
* DT Willie Howard, who has been sidelined since breaking his leg in December, 2001, continues his rehab and is said to be making good progress. The team is hopeful he will be ready for training camp.

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