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Culpepper still in Vikings’ plans

I’m not sure why, but the Minnesota Vikings plan to keep Daunte Culpepper around for a while.

Vikings owner Zygi Wilf told reporters Saturday at the NFL scouting combine that the team planned to pay Culpepper a $6 million roster bonus he is scheduled to receive March 17, the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press both reported.

When he was asked if Culpepper figures in the team’s 2006 plans, Wilf said “That is our plan, yes. Always was.”

The best thing that happened to the Vikings last season was Culpepper’s injury. He was dreadful in the first seven games, passing for only six touchdowns against 12 interceptions. What’s worse, the team got off to a 2-5 start under his guidance. It seemed like he really missed the presence of Randy Moss, who left in the team in the offseason. Brad Johnson took Culpepper’s place and led the team to a 7-2 record down the stretch.

I suspect the Vikings are going to regret not moving Culpepper this offseason. He’s not a very accurate passer and would probably do better in Arizona or Oakland where he can just throw the ball up and let talented receivers like Moss and Larry Fitzgerald go up and get it.

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Texans might trade top draft pick

It seemed like a lock once the season was done. The Texans gave QB David Carr a three-year contract extension and said they were planning to select USC RB Reggie Bush with the first overall pick. But it appears that they are reconsidering.

Texans general manager Charley Casserly said Sunday the Texans have been talking to teams about possibly trading the first pick in the 2006 draft.

“There’s clearly players at the top of this draft that are marquee players,” Casserly said. “Players that are impact players, players that are going to go to the Pro Bowl, players that are going to sell tickets. We’re going to get offers for this pick. We’ve already had discussions with teams. I think there’s value in our pick.

I think Reggie Bush is a phenomenal talent, but I’m not sure he’s an every down back that you expect to get with the #1 pick. If the Texans want to use him in the same way that the Eagles use Brian Westbrook, he’d be worth the first pick, but they do have a very capable back in Domanick Davis and have a ton of other holes to fill. Trading down might be the smart move.

It’s never too early

The NBA season is just past its halfway mark and there are a number of teams that have stopped thinking about the playoffs and have started thinking about the NBA draft [Insider subscription required]. Overall, this year’s crop of players is considered weak, and there isn’t a clear cut #1 pick.

For now, there seems to be a consensus on the top three, and they’re all underclassmen. Connecticut’s Rudy Gay is a long, athletic small forward who has good range on his jumper. I’ve seen him play a couple of times and, thus far, he seems a bit soft. He floats around the perimeter and doesn’t seem to have much of a midrange game. He also doesn’t seem very intense, which is a problem when you start talking about taking someone with the #1 pick.

Gonzaga’s Adam Morrison is the sentimental favorite for a lot of (white) fans. He has a Larry Bird quality about him and is a fierce competitor. He has a ton of range on his jumpshot and has an excellent midrange game. His only weakness is his athleticism, and it is more apparent on defense. This is only going to get worse at the next level as he’ll be playing small forward in the NBA.

The third player is LaMarcus Aldridge of Texas. He’s going to be a power forward in the NBA and has a good offensive game, both facing the basket and with his back to it. The only knock on him at this point is that he’ll need to add muscle to his frame.

With this much uncertainty over the best player in the draft, it will likely come down to which team wins the lottery. That team will probably draft the player that best fits their needs.

I say “proabably” because there is no telling what the Blazers or the Hawks would do. (Last year, they both passed on Chris Paul to take small forward projects.)

Couch Potato Alert

There’s a surprisingly light slate of games this week in college hoops. The marquee matchup is tonight when #9 Pittsburgh visits #18 West Virginia. Also, Florida State has been coming on lately so they may give #1 Duke a run for their money on Wednesday. In the NBA, the best game this week is the Dallas/San Antonio matchup on Thursday.

College Hoops
Mon, 7pm: (9) Pittsburgh @ (18) West Virginia – ESPN (HD)
Wed, 7pm: (1) Duke @ Florida St. – ESPN (HD)
Wed, 8pm: Kentucky @ (11) Tennessee – ESPN Full Court
Thurs, 7pm: (25) Wisconsin @ (23) Michigan St. – ESPN (HD)
Thurs, 9:30pm: (3) Memphis @ UAB – ESPN2
Thurs, 10:30pm: (13) UCLA @ California – local

NBA
Mon, 7pm: Detroit @ Cleveland – local
Wed, 9pm: Detroit @ Denver – local
Wed, 9pm: Philadelphia @ Houston – ESPN (HD)
Wed, 10:30pm: NO/Oklahoma City @ LA Clippers – local
Thurs, 7pm: Cleveland @ Chicago – TNT (HD)
Thurs, 9:30pm: Dallas @ San Antonio – TNT (HD)

Did Vince bomb the Wonderlic?

The NFL combine in Indianapolis is half over and the biggest story so far [Insider subscription required] is that Vince Young bombed the Wonderlic test (which is designed to test a player’s mind). Word is, on his first try, he scored a 6. On his second, he scored a 16, according to his agent. He’s supposed to take it a third time.

Todd McShay from Scouts, Inc. writes:

Just as a barometer, the highest score registered at last year’s scouting combine was a 40 (QB Alex Smith) and the lowest score was a 6 (RB Frank Gore). I also have been told by an NFL scout that the other two top quarterbacks this year fared much better on this test, with USC’s Matt Leinart scoring a 35 (at the combine) and Vanderbilt’s Jay Cutler scoring a 29 (in a test given prior to the combine).

If the reports were true, Young’s draft stock stands to be significantly affected, especially with Cutler continuing to skyrocket up most teams’ draft boards. When I asked one scout from the AFC if he thought Young would still be a top-five draft pick if the rumor turns out to be true, he answered, “Sure … as a wide receiver, though.”

As expected, Cutler shined during his four days in Indianapolis. The only quarterback to voluntarily bench press at the combine in the last two years, Cutler put up the standard 225-pound bar 23 times. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.78 seconds and wowed the NFL brass in attendance with his strong arm and accuracy during the passing drills Sunday. Cutler’s interviews have also impressed several interested teams, including the New Orleans Saints, who currently own the draft’s second overall pick.

It remains to be seen how much Young’s draft stock is hurt by these scores. The results of his third test won’t be released until next week. But, for now, you have to think that Cutler has moved ahead of Young on most teams’ draft boards.

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