Patriots, others were hoping to land Harvin

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 27, 2009 - 12:18 AM

Vikings coach Brad Childress believed the Patriots would grab the Florida star at No. 23 but beat them to it.

Chad O'Shea, who was a Vikings offensive assistant for three years before joining the New England Patriots as their wide receivers coach in February, might have inadvertently helped Minnesota get Florida wide receiver Percy Harvin with the 22nd overall pick in the first round of the NFL draft.

The Patriots worked out Harvin the day after Vikings coach Brad Childress visited him and indicated to Harvin they would draft him.

"New England was right in there. They were right behind us [with the 23rd pick]," Childress said. "No, they didn't think we'd take him [because of off-the-field] issues. Remember, they have our receivers coach there now. So they thought they could hold ... and he'd come to them.

"They were down there working him out the day after I was there. And [Harvin] wasn't supposed to tell anybody, and I was trying to pull that out of him, who that was. So, it was a little cat-and-mouse game that occurred."

After the Love Boat incident and other such past Vikings problems, O'Shea no doubt didn't believe Zygi Wilf and his family would allow the team to draft Harvin, who certainly had some baggage that scared off other teams.

Then Childress learned by talking to his former boss, Philadelphia coach Andy Reid, that other teams were trying to move into the Eagles' draft spot at No. 21 to get Harvin.

"So it's interesting, the things you find out after the fact, who was moving, who was shaking," Childress said.

Made decision early

Harvin was so impressive in the workout of 30 players the Vikings held at Winter Park a couple of weeks ago that the decision was made to take him in the first round if there weren't further concerns about his character.

Childress also liked Harvin's versatility, saying Florida coach Urban Meyer told him, "I'm not no sure he's not our best tailback."

Childress said if the Vikings had decided to move up in the draft by making a trade, they would not have been able to draft all the players they took later: Oklahoma tackle Phil Loadholt in the second round, Georgia cornerback Asher Allen in the third, South Carolina inside linebacker Jasper Brinkley in the fifth and Mississippi free safety Jamarca Sanford in the seventh.

"No, you have to be patient, because it costs you something to go up early and we wouldn't have been able to do some of the things we did here," Childress said. "As you come down [and still get] a Loadholt, and getting the Brinkley kid and Allen. We just wanted to be patient. We had a number of guys we liked. We did our homework."

Of Loadholt, Childress said: "That's a big, big ornery offensive lineman. ... Great reach, just a massive guy [6-8, 343 pounds] that can play."

Childress said Allen had "Very good nickel [defense] capabilities. Good hitter. Probably the quickest feet of anybody we saw [at the NFL scouting combine]. And I think he's got 'A' football instincts, too. I just like the way he plays the game."

Well, you wonder if the Vikings helped themselves as much by getting Harvin as the Bears did by getting quarterback Jay Cutler from the Broncos before the draft. If new quarterback Sage Rosenfels or returning quarterback Tarvaris Jackson can do the job, you might give the nod to the Vikings.

Harvin is healthy

Despite Harvin missing five games in three years at Florida and being limited in others because of a variety of injuries, Vikings doctors cleared him.

"I'm as healthy as I can get," Harvin said. "I cleared all of the physicals. I've been running good. I've been cutting good. I made it through all of the workouts. I am feeling back to where I felt when I first got to Florida. My body is just feeling healthy.

"Through the whole draft process, I was not only able to get healthy, but my agent did a tremendous job holding me back at the combine and giving my body extra time to heal. I give a lot of credit to my agent in helping me through this whole process."

Denning's milestone

Mark Dienhart, a senior vice president at the University of St. Thomas, sang the praises of Tommies baseball coach Dennis Denning, who recently won his 500th game at the school.

"He's a fabulous baseball coach," Dienhart said. "I think [Gophers coach] John Anderson and Dennis Denning are two of a kind. They are baseball people, and the kids learn a lot from them."

Dienhart doesn't see the Tommies going to Division I, like former Division II schools North Dakota and North Dakota State, any time soon.

"That might be in the future for St. Thomas, somewhere down the road," Dienhart said. "In the short term, we want to be as good as we can be at the Division III level. We are well on the road to doing that. In the short term, we are going to be a very, very good Division III program."

Jottings

Flip Saunders, the new Washington Wizards coach, said he's heard former Wolves star Kevin Garnett's bad knee will keep him out of the playoffs. Garnett's Celtics lost 121-118 in double overtime to the Chicago Bulls on Sunday, tying their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series 2-2. "The Celtics miss Garnett's rebounding, defense and leadership more than his scoring," Saunders said.

There is no doubt Wild owner Craig Leipold is doing everything he can do to re-sign Marian Gaborik, a move that would make him a hero to Wild fans. ... Offensive tackle Lydon Murtha of Hutchinson and the University of Nebraska was drafted in the seventh round by the Detroit Lions.

The grass to be installed at Target Field is now being grown in Colorado.

Matt Nohelty, the Gophers senior outfielder from Roths- child, Wis., who is equally outstanding in the classroom and on the diamond, is one of 10 baseball finalists for the Lowe's Senior Class Award, which honors seniors who have notable achievements in four areas -- classroom, character, community and competition.

Seimone Augustus of the Lynx led Istanbul-based Galatasaray to the EuroCup Women's Championship two weeks ago. Augustus averaged 20 points in 15 games in EuroCup play. Augustus was also named the EuroCup's Player of the Year. ... The Lynx will host Kelly Miller Day in Rochester, Minn., on May 14. Miller helped Spartak Moscow to the EuroLeague Championship. Miller, an eight-year WNBA veteran, averaged 5.8 points per game in 17 EuroLeague games.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on his Podcast once a week at www.startribune.com/sidcast. shartman@startribune.com

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