Corey Chavous played four seasons as a cornerback and safety with the Vikings from 2002 to '05 and made a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2003. During that time, he was an avid follower of the NFL draft and appeared on ESPN's coverage of the annual event. His playing days are over, but Chavous has turned that passion into part of a busy postcareer life via his website, With this year's NFL draft slated to start Thursday, the Star Tribune's Michael Rand caught up with Chavous.

Q First off, I was just curious how you got so interested in NFL draft stuff?

A It was just my uncle [Barney Chavous], being in the league playing [13] years with the Broncos. ... It was seamless for me. I was 7, 8 years old getting a chance to go watch his games, and I was a huge sports fan.

Q But the draft didn't used to be the big deal it is now. When you were first into it, it must have been a lot different, right?

A Oh, yeah. It's funny you mention that. I used to come home and the [later] rounds weren't even televised. And it was 12 rounds. I'd watch Mel Kiper break it down on "SportsCenter" at night. So yeah, when we used to watch it back in the day or keep up with it, it was totally different.

Q It doesn't take much to call yourself a "draft expert." What separates the good from the bad when it comes to a casual fan looking for information, and what do you feel separates your site from others?

A I guess it depends on what you're looking for. I don't consider myself a draft expert. I'm a fan. We are the fans. But we're taking the time to write scouting reports, watching multiple games on each player.

Q You have ties to the Vikings. Do you have any thoughts on what they might do or what they should do in the first round?

A I think they have a tremendous personnel department. Whatever the case is, they'll take a good player. It's going to depend on what position they consider most important. Whether it's offensive tackle, quarterback -- maybe at [pick No.] 12 you don't have a quarterback that you have rated that high. But if you do, I think they pull the trigger. But there are a lot of different ways they can go with that pick.

Q You've seen so many of these prospects. Are there people you see as maybe sleepers, guys who are flying under the radar?

A One guy I think is a poor man's Antoine Winfield is Anthony Gaitor of Florida International. We gave him a fourth-round grade. He's a really interesting player. Maybe some other guys -- Mario Harvey, a linebacker from Marshall. He's been a consistent, productive player. He's a thumper and has a nose for the football.

Q When you're looking at these guys, are you looking at measurables, an eyeball test, performance -- what makes a guy stick out in your mind?

A We have eight identifying characteristics that we grade on: balance, strength, speed, size, athleticism, explosiveness/agility, vision/hand-eye coordination and football IQ. It's based on film, and you add workouts. But you have to go [primarily] by what you see on the field.

Q Last thing -- you've been out of the game for a few years now, but I'm wondering if you miss it and also what you make of the labor situation?

A I think every player misses Sundays. But you look at yourself and see how your body is holding up. I was very reckless with my body, particularly late in my career, and I'm happy not to endure that anymore. Not playing anymore lets me just be a fan again. ... I was a part of the last CBA, and that was a very meticulous process. When you look at it overall, you have to be patient. It's going to be interesting, and there is going to be a lot of courtroom drama.