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Vikings Aim to Maximize 900 Seconds with Prospects

Posted Feb 24, 2016

Time is of the essence in Indianapolis.

The Vikings have 60 one-on-one interviews scheduled this week with potential draft picks at the NFL Scouting Combine, each one lasting 15 minutes.

If you’re Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman or Head Coach Mike Zimmer, there’s no time to waste when getting to know a player.

“You have to get a lot accomplished in 900 seconds,” Spielman said.

Spielman said the Vikings, who submitted their interview request list a few weeks ago, will mainly focus on the draft-eligible underclassmen who they haven’t had a chance to meet with. 

“A lot is juniors just because we haven’t been in front of them yet,” Spielman said Wednesday morning. “We’re very aggressive at the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game, so we get the initial interviews [with seniors] done there.”

The Vikings have a variety of tools at their disposal to help them peel back informational layers on a prospect.

Besides Spielman and Zimmer, coaches, scouts, sports psychologists are also in the interview room.

Players can be asked to draw up plays or schemes on a whiteboard, or even go break down game film on the spot.

Spielman said the Vikings tailor questions to draft prospects and look for specific answers. Some interviews, Spielman noted, focus completely on a prospect’s character.

“We (Zimmer and I) have a similar philosophy, so character is a very important priority for us, because of the culture that is in our locker room,” Spielman said. “We want to make sure they are not only good football players, but the type of character guys that fit in the type of culture we’re trying to build.”

The Vikings don’t necessarily tip their hand when it comes to interacting with players.

After the draft, the Vikings invite 30 players to Minnesota for additional evaluations.

Spielman said the Vikings decisions to not invite safety Harrison Smith or wide receiver Stefon Diggs in recent years was not indicative of the team’s interest in the players.

Minnesota selected Smith in 2012 and Diggs in 2015, and each made an immediate impact on the field.