Christian Ponder started his career with an offensive line in flux and a weak receiver corps. Both…
Three first-rounders energized organization
The morning after the Vikings became the first team since the St. Louis Rams in 2001 to grab three players in the first-round, Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes and Tennessee receiver Cordarrelle Patterson were walking through the halls of team headquarters and delivering quite a jolt while doing so.
"You could just feel the energy in the building," Mark Wilf said. "Not just three first-round picks, but great players and the kind of people we want as Minnesota Vikings in terms of on and off the field."
The only other time in Vikings history the team has had three players was in 1967. So take the usual pomp and circumstance surrounding the arrival of a first-round draft pick and multiply it by three, and there's no wonder why so many smiles could be seen on faces at Winter Park on Friday.
The Vikings chose Floyd, a highly-rated heir apparent to Kevin Williams, 23rd overall. Then they took Rhodes, the kind of big, physical cornerback needed to match up against the likes of Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall in the NFC North with the 25th pick. And before the night was over, they traded back into the first round to get Patterson, a raw but physically gifted receiver, at No. 29.
The three youngsters address three areas of need on a team that made a surprising run to the playoffs last season, ramping up expectations even further for 2013, when the team will break ground on the new stadium that gained approval for public funding last year.
"You could feel that energy and all that momentum," general manager Rick Spielman said. "I think from building off last year's energy and being able to accomplish what we've accomplished so far, we've got the new uniforms and the new stadium coming, there's a lot of positive here in Minnesota. We're looking to continue to build on that."
The Vikings had to give up their second- and third-round picks as part of the package to move up and take Patterson, leaving them without a selection on the second day of the draft. They also added a fourth-rounder and a seventh-rounder. That was no problem for Spielman because the Vikings had two fourth-round picks and three seventh-rounders this year, leaving him with plenty of draft picks in the final four rounds on Saturday to add depth.
"In a normal draft, if you have a first-round pick, a second-round pick and a third-round pick, was there any chance you could get these three players? No way," Spielman said. "So to be aggressive and get these three first-round picks, which I've never done in my entire career, it was kind of a unique opportunity that presented itself."
The new players certainly felt the warm reception.
"The energy was ecstatic," Floyd said. "Everyone was happy and greeting us with open arms and we felt like we were part of the family as soon as we walked into this (building). We're just glad to be here."
Patterson will wear No. 84 in purple, a number previously worn by star receiver Randy Moss. Patterson said he grew up idolizing Moss and hopes to bring the same kind of juice to the Vikings offense that Moss once did.
"It feels pretty good," Patterson said. "It's not usual to get three first-round picks. It hasn't been done since 2001. It feels great, even though they play defense I will have to go against them every day. I know Xavier is going to bring it every day and I'm going to try bringing it to him and try to get each other better."
What maiden trip to Minnesota would be complete without a visit to the Mall of America? There the three rookies got a taste of the enthusiasm with which the Vikings are followed in these parts.
"The energy is crazy," Rhodes said. "There was one guy, we saw him twice I think, he almost fell (over). It was kind of funny, but I could tell the fans here love Minnesota, they love the Vikings. I love it, I completely love it."
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