Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there can't be any moralists in NFL draft rooms.

Saturday night, the Vikings selected a pot-smoking, coach-challenging, injury-hampered athlete from Florida, a guy whose résumé makes him sound a lot like a previous Vikings draftee who got banished from the academic wonderland that is Florida State.

This year, the Vikings spent the 22nd pick in the draft on a remarkably talented but free-falling receiver named Percy Harvin.

In 1998, the Vikings spent the 21st pick in the draft on a remarkably talented but free-falling receiver named Randy Moss.

That is the most obvious parallel to draw, but it is not the only one. Whatever this Vikings regime has said about acquiring quality people, this is also the regime that gambled on an alcoholic defensive end named Jared Allen, that re-signed an offensive tackle with anger-management issues named Bryant McKinnie, that let Mr. Wonderful Matt Birk walk.

You want an explosive wide receiver, you're probably going to have to deal with a diva. Moss was a diva who became one of the great draft steals of all time. Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson, Plaxico Burress, Michael Irvin ... the list of problematic yet successful NFL receivers is much longer than Burress' rap sheet.

In the NFL, there are character positions and talent positions. Quarterback, offensive line and middle linebacker are character positions. They require athletes who play well with others. Running back and receiver are talent positions. Few players in this draft -- and none available with the 22nd pick -- can match Harvin's talent.

We know he was dumb enough to fail a test for marijuana before the draft. We also know that he was tough enough to be the best player on the field in the national championship game while playing through an injury.

If there is a problem with Harvin's arrival, it is that Mr. Playchart, Brad Childress, has yet to demonstrate creativity in designing offenses that take advantage of all of his offensive weapons.

He's had trouble getting Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor into the same backfield. How is he going to make the best use of Peterson, Taylor, Harvin, Bernard Berrian and Visanthe Shiancoe? "I think we can have one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL,'' said Rick Spielman, the Vikings' vice president of player personnel.

"We feel we need to strike while the iron is hot,'' said owner Zygi Wilf.

They're both right, but for this to be one of the NFL's best offenses, for this team to make a run at a title while players like Pat Williams and Peterson are still ambulatory, Childress is going to have to think more like a mad scientist and less like a former Big Ten offensive coordinator who believes in three yards and a cloud of dust.

Yes, Harvin is a risk. You can worry about his history with drugs, injuries and temper tantrums.

But virtually every draft pick is a risk. The Vikings could have played it safe, and taken Mississippi offensive tackle Michael Oher, a quality player at a position of need. I prefer Harvin. And I like the fact that the Vikings haven't held themselves to their own ridiculous "culture of accountability.''

By the initial standards of the "culture of accountability,'' you never would have expected this team to take a chance on Allen, yet their highly expensive trade for him remains the most impressive move of the Childress era.

They could have talked themselves out of taking Adrian Peterson because of his injury history, but they recognized him as the ridiculous bargain and phenomenal player he is.

Harvin might get hurt. He might fail a drug test. He might scream in Childress' face on the sideline. Presented with talent like this, though, the Vikings were right to gamble.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon on AM-1500 KSTP.