Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman
We are very excited about how the draft ended up; we added a lot of quality football players in this third day of the draft. Our theme was getting smart, tough football players who love to play the game and I think all these guys that we were able to draft, in this third day, fit that bill. We are up there working on free agency right now, so it’s pretty crazy, but I figured you guys wanted to get home so I came down here.
We are probably going to sign 10-13 college free agents and that’s what we are working on right now.
A: Both of those guys; again you know the story; they have been together since birth. Our special teams coach actually went down and worked out Jarius Wright to see how he would be able to handle return duties as well. He is a very explosive playmaker, I just happened to be at the Texas A & M game when he had his big game down in Dallas stadium where he put on a show. He is an extremely gifted athlete, he has great speed and we are trying to increase our speed, both on the offensive and defensive side. We feel that he has the ability to come in and potentially be a punt returner.
As we were going through that draft, we started seeing in that fourth round that all those smaller receivers were going that have that return ability, there was a run on those guys and so we felt very fortunate to get Jarius at the time we got him, because not only can he help on offense, but also as a potential big play returner. That’s one of the things we wanted to definitely look at.
Greg Childs had an outstanding year the year before he blew out his patella tendon. He is a big receiver and he can go up and get the ball in the red zone. If you watched him in 2010 in the Auburn game and some of the other games that he did play in; some of the big catches he made during the Alabama game, we felt we got great value with him there. I think the reason he fell was because he didn’t play as well this year, he didn’t have as productive of a year, but I know how long it takes to come back from a patella injury. We are seeing him at the East-West game, seeing him work out at the combine, he looks fully, 100% healthy and we are looking to get the player we saw in 2010 and 2009 with that big outside receiver with big play ability.
Q: Do you look at Jarius Wright as a guy that can do some of the things that
A: He is just another great playmaker. When he has the ball in his hands he can be electric. Because of his speed because of his ability to make people miss in space, he has the ability to take it to the house if he gets in the open field.
Q: It sounds like with these two receivers, you weren’t worried as much about fitting a prototype as you were trying to get good players?
A: To get good quality players, that’s what we were looking for.
Q: Is there a value in having those guys come together, given that they have done that their whole life?
A: Well, I don’t know, we will find that out. With both of those guys we were very excited; they have the skill set that we were looking for on the offensive side of the ball, especially at the receiver position.
Q: How much did relationships come into play with some of these picks?
A: I think it was more ironic than relationship.
Q: Was the kicker brought here for competition or as a kickoff specialist?
A: He was just one of the players on our board that we felt could come in and compete. I know he had a down year last in regards to field goal percentage but I know he was almost 90 percent two years ago and close to 90 percent his junior year. Watching him at the combine, he was the best kickoff guy there. As far as averaging almost four or five second hang time and had a lot of touchbacks. We felt he was the best kickoff guy at the combine. I know during the combine he was very successful +50 so we know he have the leg strength. I believe he went 3-3 during the combine workout. What we were looking at was value and football players regardless of position and felt he was a good value where we got him.
Q: Is there any scenario where you’d keep two kickers?
A: Right now we are trying to gather football players.
Q: Once the Missouri Western player came off the board did you know you were going to take a kicker?
A: There was a run and I think those three kickers were the three kickers that were draftable.
Q: Was there a feeling to maybe wait until the seventh round?
A: Just the way you feel it in the draft and you know there’s a run. If you noticed that there was a run on those return specialists and those small, electric type receivers. That’s when we decided we better take Jarius (Wright) or weren’t not going to get him. Right after him I think the Michigan State kid went, who’s another slot receiver that’s a return specialist. We were also looking at some linebackers at that area as well and there started to be a run right after our pick on linebackers. So we just felt that if we wanted to get an electric playmaker on offense and someone that can come in and potentially be your punt returner that’s where we had to pull the trigger.
Q: Why Rhett (Ellison) in the fourth round? He didn’t think he would be drafted at all.
A: He’s very modest. I know that he was going to go right around there, for a fact. I just know that because I got some calls right after that. If you notice as we were going down that third day, all of them are big time special teams players. Rhett is a great character guy. He’s extremely bright and can play multiple positions. We lost Shiancoe and we lost Kleinsasser, so we’re trying to create as much competition as we can at that third tight end spot as possible. Visiting with Rhett at the combine, and I was out at his pro day personally, he does a lot of things for an offense just because of his versatility and his intelligence to do a lot of different things. He can do a lot of the same things that we saw in Kleinsasser.
Q: Have you ever had a pick get emotional like that?
A: I got emotional. I was like, ‘I love you man.’ You what that tells you? That tells me that guys love to play football. I’m sure you’re going to ask me about Blanton. That guy loves the game. If you can get smart, intelligent football players that love the game as much as these two that gives you an opportunity and a chance.
Q: Is Blanton a S or CB and is Guyton a DT or DE?
A: Those are the guys that have multiple positions. He can play corner and safety. When we get him here we’ll utilize him in both areas. Guyton can play three technique. He can also play left defensive end. That gives you another rotation guy. They used him over the nose some as a nickel rusher. The more guys that we can bring in here that can play multiple positions and have versatility the more value they have for us.
Q: What do you know about Caleb King’s situation?
A: I was just made aware of it today. I don’t have any further comment on it right now. We’re still collecting information but we are aware of the situation.
Q: Do you see Cole as an inside guy or over the tight end?
A: There’s another guy that has a lot of versatility. We coached him down at the Senior Bowl and is another very kid with passion for the game. He’s played outside and moved to mike linebacker this year. I talked to the defensive coordinator down there and talked to him when I went down there this fall. He can probably play all three positions. That’s what we’re looking for when we look at linebackers. We do cross train those guys so they have to be able to play all three for us.
Q: Given the lack of depth at middle linebacker is that where he’ll start out?
A: We also signed
Q: Do you expect Childs to be able to go right away at minicamp?
A: He’s 100 percent healthy.
Q: How do you feel about the upgrade at WR with those two guys?
A: I know that they bring some big play ability. The objective of this draft was to get a lot of young guys that can come in here and compete. Staying with the theme of tough, smart, passionate football players that have ability for our coaches to sit there and develop. I just remember sitting there with Jarius, talking with this guy at the combine you could just see it in his eye. That’s why the interview process is so important to us. There were some other receivers that you saw fall in the draft. But we were really focused on that passion for the game.
Q: How much did getting
A: That was huge, that was a big signing for us. To get Jerome in here, and we have talked about Jerome and how comfortable we felt with him, he has been in here working out already the last couple of days and we are very excited about Jerome.
Q: With the two trades you made, you know how many for picks next year?
A: We got a four and a six for next year.
Q: Nine picks for next year, if not more than that?
A: When you have all that ammunition that we had that second day and you still have players that you like, but may be able to get later as we move down, that’s the great thing about having picks and keeping picks, because now we have potentially two fourth-rounders already for next year. And we do have a sixth round pick that we didn’t have from the McNabb trade.
Q: Back to Caleb King, and not his specific situation, but how tough is it to deal with these things, I know the team takes them very seriously?
A: We take each situation as it comes in and we evaluate it and make decisions off of where we feel that player is and if it’s a risk or something we don’t want to deal with than we will deal with it. We are not the only NFL team that has situations, we try to prevent those because it’s very important to what we are trying to build here and you just have to deal with them when they come and make decisions based off of that.
Q: What’s your reaction, when you hear details like that about an incident?
A: Until I read everything I don’t want to comment on it.
Q: Coming off of a 3-13 season, how much better do you think you are right now?
A: I know with some of the guys we signed in the unrestricted free agent market and with this draft, we feel very excited that we have improved our football team over the offseason and I can’t wait to see these guys come in. The rookies will be here next week. The biggest part was trying to upgrade our roster from a personnel standpoint. I believe we accomplished that mission this weekend.
Q: Is there still a feeling of trying to upgrade the depth especially at nose tackle?
A: We are never done with personnel. We will continue to monitor that through the summer; potential guys that get cut out there. The other thing we can take advantage of this year is the cut down time, we are ranked third as far as pecking order when the waivers come. So we will be very active monitoring that as well. You can improve your roster especially when you are in the position that we are in.
A: The speed was somewhat of a concern, but he is a sure tackler, he is very tough. I was reading some of his quotes, he talked to you guys, and so you guys can feel the passion.
Q: When do you have time to read his quotes?
A: When we to wait an hour for our next pick, I’m just making sure you guys are staying on your toes and writing the right things.
Q: With as much as you have talked about passion, how does that translate to your team as a whole?
A: That’s what you want as a football team. I know that’s what our ownership wants, what coach Frazier wants. Myself and coach Frazier, and Mark and Zygi sat down and really honed in on where we need to go with this roster and what we are looking for and that was a huge part of this planning process, when we had our big meeting in January and that’s the direction we have been going, and that’s the direction our moves have been going.
Q: Beyond passion was there more emphasis on character?
A: Character and intelligence, because you have to have smart, tough football players.
Q: Are there any positions you are targeting with the rookie free agents?
A: We have already gone through a bunch, and we are working on that right now.
Q: Is Vontaze Burfict and option at all?
A: I won’t comment on who we are going to sign or not sign.