MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings will begin welcoming players to town on Wednesday for their top-30 prospects event, which uses many of their 30 allotted pre-draft visits to create a two-day convention of sorts for draft hopefuls at the team's facility. The Vikings have held the event about 3 1/2 weeks before the draft for the past several years, and players will meet with coaches and team executives while in the Twin Cities.
Here is a partial list of prospects attending the event, based on what we've been able to confirm and what other outlets have reported:
Preston Brown, LB, Louisville
Demarcus Lawrence, LB, Boise State
Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA
Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State
Billy Turner, T, North Dakota State
Keith Wenning, QB, Ball State
Brock Vereen, S, Minnesota
Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo
The event doesn't necessarily indicate the prospects at the top of the Vikings' draft board -- some of the players brought to the Twin Cities for visits might not be taken until the third day of the draft -- and is an inconsistent predictor of whether the team will actually draft a player. The Vikings invited left tackle Matt Kalil to the event in 2012, and selected him fourth overall. Safety Harrison Smith wasn't at the event, and the Vikings traded back into the first round to select him in the same draft.
But even though the Vikings won't take a large number of the players they invite to the event, they can still use it for other purposes: possibly to learn more about a player's teammate, to make other teams think they're interested in a certain player or to file away information on a player for years down the road. That last reason can be particularly useful; after the Vikings signed defensive tackle Linval Joseph last month, general manager Rick Spielman mentioned the team hosted Joseph at its top-30 event before the New York Giants drafted him in 2010.
And of course, there are players like Mack and Barr, who could be legitimate options for the Vikings with the No. 8 overall pick. It's best not to treat the event as a be-all, end-all -- or anything close to it -- but for the Vikings, it can be a useful piece of the pre-draft evaluation puzzle.