Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Sheppard shouldn't change Vikes' draft
By Kevin Seifert
To the extent that the Minnesota Vikings were targeting a cornerback with its No. 30 overall pick, I doubt anything has changed based on Wednesday's quick signing of free agent Lito Sheppard. Here's where I'm coming from:
- Sheppard, 29, signed a one-year, $2 million contract. Those terms paint the perfect picture of a short-term commitment to fill a specific hole. We outlined that opening earlier Wednesday: Starter Cedric Griffin is rehabilitating a torn anterior cruciate ligament. He might not be ready for the start of the season, and Benny Sapp is the only player with experience behind him. But without question, Griffin is a long-term fixture in the Vikings' lineup.
- A first-round cornerback might contribute right away, but his horizon would extend far beyond Sheppard's likely career arc. In other words, if a cornerback you value is available at your spot in the draft, you're not going to pass because you just signed a veteran free agent to a one-year contract.
- A rookie drafted this year would more likely be targeted as Antoine Winfield's eventual replacement. Winfield turns 33 in June.
- Sheppard has played for coach Brad Childress and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier in Philadelphia. If you have the opportunity to bring in a veteran cornerback who is familiar with your defense and as well-respected around the league as Sheppard is, you do it without consideration to the draft. I'm pretty sure no NFL team has had too much depth at cornerback.
Now, watch the Vikings pass on Kareem Jackson, Kyle Wilson and Devin McCourty -- three of the draft's top cornerbacks -- and pick a tight end at No. 30. That would show me.