EDEN PRAIRIE (AP) -- The Minnesota Vikings have obvious needs, but coach Denny Green refuses to believe they are needy.
The distinction is so clear to Green, he may defy conventional wisdom again in during the NFL draft Saturday and Sunday.
That's how the Vikings wound up with Daunte Culpepper two years ago, when pass rusher Jevon Kearse seemed the obvious choice, or Randy Moss and Korey Stringer in other seasons.
That's why Green would never commit to filling that canyon in his defense with a first-round cornerback or defensive lineman. Nor will he necessarily use the pick to replace the 1,000 yards rushing lost with Robert Smith's retirement.
The last thing the Vikings need is another wide receiver, but Green said that wouldn't stop them from choosing another if the right one were available: Miami's Santana Moss, for example. Moss is expected to be long gone before the Vikings get to use their 27th pick of the first round, but at 5-foot-9 is the shortest of five or six receivers expected to be first-rounders.
What if he fell to the Vikings? They're pretty happy with the last Moss they drafted and probably would take another.
"We don't like the total concentration on need," Green said. "It's not just need. If it comes down to a guy who is rated fifth and another guy who is 20th, we'll probably take the fifth guy.
"Then again, if everything goes according to script and all the players who we figure should be gone are gone, then we're probably going to take a defensive player over an offensive player."
The Vikings are fortunate this is a draft deep in cornerbacks and defensive linemen -- their most glaring weaknesses.
"It's probably the best it's been in awhile," Green said. "We're going to draft more defensive players than offensive players -- we'll let that much be known. There are five or six guys who are over 300 pounds -- big, banger-types with speed on the outside. And then there are a lot of cornerbacks."
The run on cornerbacks is expected to begin with about the 20th pick of the first round, which should put the Vikings in position to grab a player such as Jamar Fletcher of Wisconsin, Ken Lucas of Mississippi, Will Allen of Syracuse or the Gophers' Willie Middlebrooks. Or the pool of cornerbacks may be deep enough to allow them to lay off.
"Not all of them are first-round draft picks," said Frank Gilliam, the Vikings' vice president of player personnel. "There's enough depth that I think we'll be able to pick up a good cornerback in the third or fourth round."
Defensive linemen who could last late into the first round include tackles Marcus Stroud of Georgia, Shaun Rogers of Texas and Damione Lewis of Miami. Stanford's Willie Howard is a second-round possibility.
Wisconsin running back Michael Bennett is another interesting possibility. Bennett is the fastest player in the draft, with a reported 40-yard time of 4.27 seconds, and the ideal player to replace Smith. Bennett also is likely to be gone before the Vikings make their pick, but Green said they would consider him if he were available.
The Vikings have selections available in all seven rounds, plus a pair of compensatory picks in the fourth round. Green said he doubted they would trade some of the picks to move up or down in the draft.
At least five players from last season's Minnesota Gophers are likely to be taken. Middlebrooks, a prototype cornerback recovering from a broken ankle, could go in the first or second round.
"If (it's the second), it's probably because he doesn't have a totally healed ankle and the verdict is out as to when he will be healed," Green said.
Other Gophers who could be picked include center Ben Hamilton, defensive end Karon Riley, offensive tackle Adam Haayer and defensive tackle John Schlect.
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