Monday, April 25, 2005

Vikings Select Williamson In NFL Draft

Less than 30 minutes after being selected by the Minnesota Vikings, Troy Williamson already seemed tired of comparisons to Randy Moss. He better get used to it. The Vikings traded Moss to the Oakland Raiders last month for the No. 7 overall selection, which they used on Saturday to select the speedy Williamson over Southern Cal receiver Mike Williams. "I'm stepping into my own because I'm my own person, so nobody can compare me to Randy Moss," said Williamson, a former South Carolina Gamecock. "I'm Troy Williamson. Believe me, Minnesota will get to know that when I get up there." Heading into the day, many mock drafts had the Vikings selecting Williams, a big target at 6-foot-5 who scored 30 touchdowns in two seasons with the Trojans, and a fan favorite around Winter Park. At a news conference on Thursday, Vikings coach Mike Tice hinted that the team could go another direction, and that's what happened Saturday. "He was the No. 1 receiver on our board. Regardless of who everyone in the country liked, that's who we liked," Tice said. The selection received a mixture of cheers and mild boos from the fans gathered for a party inside the team's practice facility. Dissenters wanted the Vikings to draft Williams, but Tice seemed to sway most of them after a brief radio address. Tice said Williamson was the second-ranked player on Minnesota's entire board and that the Vikings also were interested in Auburn running back Carnell Williams, who went to Tampa Bay at No. 5.
With their second selection in the first round at No. 18, the Vikings selected Wisconsin defensive end Erasmus James. It was the third straight season the Vikings have spent a first-round selection on a defensive lineman. The Vikings picked Kenechi Udeze last season and Kevin Williams in 2003. James had eight sacks for the Badgers last season and 18 for his career, instantly upgrading the pass rush for a defensive unit that ranked 29th against the pass last season. James is expected to compete with second-year man Darrion Scott for a starting defensive end position opposite Kenechi Udeze.

Troy Williamson & Erasmus James
The Vikings never got a chance to use their second-round choice on Ohio State kicker Mike Nugent, who went to the New York Jets two picks earlier. Instead, Minnesota selected Mississippi's massive (6-6 1/4, 321-pound) Marcus Johnson, a four-year starter who saw action at both starting guard and tackle spots during his college career. Johnson projects as a guard with the Vikings and could compete with Adam Goldberg for the starting left guard position.

Aaron Rodgers entered the NFL to a standing ovation with hundreds of fans chanting his name. Instead of being the first pick overall to the San Francisco 49ers, where many, including Rodgers, thought not long ago that he might be headed, the Green Bay Packers took the California quarterback with the 24th pick Saturday. the 21-year-old is now the heir apparent to 35-year-old Brett Favre, who has been talking retirement for the last two years.