Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.
Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.
Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.
Members of the Vikings' "Top 30" draft invitees have begun arriving this morning for their pre-draft visit with the team. They'll meet with team officials, have a dinner and spend the night before flying out Wednesday.
The group obviously includes some of the players the team might pick No. 3 overall, such as USC left tackle Matt Kalil, Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon and LSU corner Morris Claiborne. The list, however, does not include quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.
The Vikings had considered inviting RGIII and Luck a couple months ago. But once Washington traded up into the No. 2 spot, the team figured (accurately) that no way in Goodell's green earth that neither Luck nor RGIII will make it past the No. 2 pick.
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman will give the scouts, coaches and, well, everybody the Easter weekend off. Those who leave town will return Monday. Starting next Tuesday, the organization begins a nine-day stretch in which the scouts, personnel and coaches will spend 12 to 14 hours a day setting the team's draft board with all the latest information that's been gathered.
"We'll get the board finalized at that time, and then rehash through all the way up until the [following] Wednesday," Spielman said.
As far as trade talk involving that No. 3 pick, Spielman said, "There have been some feelers. But I think if there is any type of trade, I think most of the talk with get serious the closer we get to the draft just because people, like we are, are getting ready to go into their final draft meetings.
"So I think once everybody gets their game-plan and the players they identify as the ones they really want to hone in on, that's when teams start to want to make trades up or down. But I don't anticipate anything happening with us until we're on the clock, if we do anything."
During that intense nine-day preparation period (which the team calls its "lockdown" period), the Vikings will determine just how far down they can trade and still come up with what they call a "blue" player. A "blue" player is one they project as an eventual Pro Bowler. A "red" player is one they project as a starter.
There have been multiple reports the Vikings are interested in acquiring Washington quarterback Donovan McNabb either through a trade or signing him after he's released by the Redskins.
But there is one important thing to keep in mind here. If the Vikings told the Redskins they were interested in McNabb it had to come before the NFL lockout began in early March. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed this week that once the lockout started teams were prohibited from discussing any trades involving players. Of course, the Vikings can have all the internal discussions they want about McNabb.
Teams are allowed to trade draft picks and it would be naive to assume that no under the table discussions have occurred that involved trades of players being completed once the lockout is done.
That being said, one would think teams would be very careful because the NFL would have the ability to make an example of them if they were caught trying to work out deals. (I think it's a safe assumption that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and his supporting cast aren't in a very forgiving mood these days when it comes to any issues.)
With the amount of McNabb scuttlebutt circulating the question becomes is it worth taking a risk on being hit with potential sancations over a 34-year-old quarterback coming off a poor season?
One would think the answer is pretty obvious.