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Presser Points: Spielman on Improving Vikings Run Game on Day 2

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. –Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman's primary focus for the 2017 NFL Draft was improving Minnesota's run game, and he feels confident that goal was achieved in Rounds 2 and 3.

The Vikings had only two picks Friday night after making four trades – two up, two down – but they are additions that Spielman said will make an immediate difference.

"The one thing I know we accomplished, we got a lot better in the run game than we were a year ago," Spielman said in a press conference with Twin Cities media.

While the Vikings often have turned to defensive players early in Head Coach Mike Zimmer's tenure, Spielman said that Zimmer was happy with the selections of running back Dalvin Cook (41st overall) and center Pat Elflein (70th overall) to kick off this year's selection process.

"Coach Zim' wants to run the ball," Spielman said. "And I think with what we were able to get done in free agency, and, to be honest with you, I didn't know that Dalvin was going to fall that far. And it was too good not to go up there and try to get him.

"He's just too special of a football player," Spielman said.

Here are four other topics Spielman addressed during his podium session:

20-plus calls a day

Spielman explained that he and his staff are "pretty aggressive" on the phone lines, calling both before and after their schedule picks.

When asked how many calls Spielman makes and fields in draft day like Friday's, the general manager said "plus-20" and said the number could have approached 30.

"It's pretty busy," Spielman said before adding with a laugh, "To be honest with you, I probably lost count.

"We just start with all the teams above us and calling as high up as we can go," Spielman said. "And then we start calling all the teams below us."

Spielman said his philosophy is essentially to dangle the trade option out there for a potential dance partner.

"If you have three or four guys that you like, and you're able to still move down and get that player and accumulate more picks, to me, that's a great move," Spielman said. "If there's a guy that we absolutely covet, and we've turned down trade [offers to move down] if that was a player we absolutely wanted."

Trading up, trading down

Spielman said his favorite thing about the draft is the decision-making on whether to stay put, trade up or trade down on the board throughout the day.

"Especially knowing [with] guys that you've targeted, when to pull back and still be able to have guys there on the board that you still covet," Spielman said. "Working with the coaching staff and as we come together as a group and really hone in on that draft board, we have a pretty good sense on the guys that fit what we're looking for as a Minnesota Viking."

Stick to the process

The Vikings didn't have a first-round pick in this year's draft, but that didn't mean Spielman strayed from his process. Since the draft kicked off Thursday night, Spielman has stayed locked in to each and every player taken off the board.

"You have to follow what's going on," Spielman said. "You follow how teams are filling their needs, strategically what's going to happen in the second round. Like I said earlier, we spent probably three or four hours today, mid-morning, just going over all the different scenarios."

Spielman added that, while Minnesota didn't make a selection the first night, the Vikings received a first-round talent in Cook with the 41st pick.

"We were pretty excited about that," Spielman said.

Elflein 'bites back'

When Spielman meets with draft prospects at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, it's not uncommon for him to intentionally challenge a player in his interview.

During Elflein's interview with Spielman, the offensive lineman met Spielman's test with confidence, garnering the general manager's attention.

"I kind of jab the kids a little bit, and he's the only one that kind of bit back at me a little bit," Spielman said. "I could see his face getting a little flush, like he was, 'OK, let's go.' But he was [also] great when he came in on the Top 30."

Spielman said the interaction gave him an off-field glimpse of Elflein's competitive nature.

"If you can get into the edge a little bit, it was a little easier to get him to his edge," Spielman said. "So, I can tell, when he's on a football field, that's why he plays the style of football that he plays, and you can get that sense on just being around him."

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