EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings were major players in free agency last month and know how important this week's NFL Draft can be to adding to a talented roster.
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said during a press conference Tuesday at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center that the team was finalizing its hi-tech draft board for the three-day event that starts with Round 1 on Thursday, continues with Rounds 2-3 on Friday and concludes with Rounds 4-7 on Saturday.
The Vikings are entering the draft with eight selections. Minnesota has the 30th (first round), 62nd (second round), 94th (third round), 167th (fifth round), 204th, 213th and 218th (all in the sixth round) and 225th (seventh round) picks.
But any or all could change.
Especially with Spielman's penchant for draft-day trades and affinity for acquiring at least 10 selections.
Thus, it was logical for a report to immediately ask Spielman if there's already been any **interest in the 30th overall pick**.
Spielman said he has received four calls over the past two days regarding "where we're picking."
"You don't know. I wish I could say 'Yes, we'd love to trade out,' but I don't want to trade out if there's a player that falls to us," Spielman explained. "An example like a Dalvin Cook last year, then we went and traded up.
The Vikings opted to vault from 48th to 41st after seeing Cook make it through the first round. Minnesota also traded up in the third round, going from 79th to 71st to select Pat Elflein.
Spielman capitalized by moving up the board and still managed to yield additional picks on the final day of the 2017 NFL Draft when Minnesota selected nine players.
"Our philosophy on the trades last year was that we traded up twice and down seven times. It's not planned," Spielman said. "It's more reactive to how the names are falling off the board and also what the depth is at that particular position. If it is a deep class at a particular position and one of the areas that we want to try to address and we can move down and still get that player, sure, why wouldn't you do that because then you get the benefit of another draft pick or adding another potential player to your roster?"
Spielman said the Vikings weren't going to let a run on interior offensive linemen take its course and leave them behind.
Here are four other topics that Spielman discussed Tuesday.
1. Depth on interior line
Spielman said the 2018 group of interior offensive linemen is "a pretty deep class."
"I think there are some offensive tackles in this class, but I think it may drop off quicker than a center/guard area. Those are the things we are weighing," Spielman said. "If Sid's [Hartman] prediction comes true, and we do move out of the first round and you have three or four options in a particular position and you can get that same player in the second round and also have an additional pick, why wouldn't you do that?"
2. Flexibility and an eye on '19
Spielman was asked if the Vikings landing Kirk Cousins and Sheldon Richardson at the start of free agency alleviated pressure from this week.
"I don't think it ever takes the pressure off. I think what it does … is that it gives you a lot of flexibility on what direction you want to go," Spielman said. "I know everybody in the **mock world** and experts out there [say] it's offensive line, offensive line, offensive line.
"But when you look at your roster, you have to look at 'OK, where are some other holes that you are going to have to fill?' That is why I am looking at the 2019 roster, as well. Guys who are not under contact. What if there is a significant player that is there at 30 that can potentially fill a need? He may have a role this year, but definitely fill a need in the future. You have to weigh-in not only what your needs are this year, but I think we're in a position especially at 30 as everybody thinks we are locked in at offensive line, and that is absolutely not the case.
"I think right now the way our draft board has developed, we have five different positions that we can go in any direction, depending on how the board is falling Thursday night," Spielman added.
3. Why is it a goal to get to 10 picks?
"I've just always had the philosophy, if you can get to that amount or more, you have a better chance of hitting on players," Spielman said. "Sure, you're going to have your misses. But, the more swings that you get at the plate, the better odds you have of hitting the ball. If you only get to bat twice, you've got maybe a 50-50 chance. If you get to bat 10 times, hopefully your 50-50 chance, your odds have increased pretty good. So, I've always had the philosophy of getting as many of those picks, but also, not passing up on good football players just to get the picks. There has to be a reason why."
4. The importance of continuing to hit
With several core players signing their second or even third contract extensions with the Vikings, it is important for Minnesota to efficiently add depth to the roster and keep some maneuverability with the salary cap.
"Every year is a big draft, but the heavier or front-loaded our roster gets with those big contracts the more important the backups or the role players that you're hoping will develop into starters make a significant difference," Spielman said. "If one of your top-tier guys that you paid a lot of money [gets] hurt, like I said, there isn't another expensive player behind him. Now you got these young guys, and we have the coaching staff that are going to get these young guys to go out there and perform."