A few days removed from the 2017 NFL Draft, Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman is feeling good about Minnesota's roster as the Vikings prepare to kick off rookie minicamp this week.
Spielman on Wednesday spoke with "Voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen about a number of the recently drafted players.
Allen hosted KFAN's *9 to Noon *show live from Morris, Minnesota. The Vikings, together with Innovative Office Solutions and KFAN, are in Morris for a two-day "Town Takeover" in honor of Morris being named the Minnesota Football Program of the Year.
Spielman said that he felt Minnesota's offense had started to be "on an upswing" near the close of the 2016 season, and he's excited about the direction it's headed under Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur, who's entering his first full season in that role.
"Now they've had a whole offseason to put in all the tweaks that they want to put to the scheme, he can install his scheme to our players," Spielman said. "It's a little bit more West Coast than I would say power ball, but we're still going to have to be able to use power."
Spielman said he believes that running back Dalvin Cook, whom the Vikings traded up seven spots to take 41st overall, will be a good fit for the Vikings. He also spoke with Allen about the additions of Bucky Hodges (No. 201) and Stacy Coley (No. 219) to the offense.
According to Spielman, the 6-6, 257-pound Hodges is "a tremendous athlete" who impressed Spielman and his scouting staff throughout the season and again at the combine. The GM appreciates the different ways in which Hodges, a tight end converted from a quarterback, can be used on offense.
"This year in [Virginia Tech's] offense, they used him as a wide receiver," Spielman said. "They split him out wide, they put him in the slot, and what he does is create a lot of mismatches."
Spielman explained that it forces defenses to figure out what role Hodges will fill on a certain play.
"If he's an H-back tight end, then more than likely he's going to have a safety or a linebacker on him," Spielman said. "And when defenses do that, he can definitely create mismatches versus those types of athletes."
Spielman was actually able to see Hodges, Coley and fellow draft pick Danny Isidora in the same game, when Virginia Tech played Miami. Coley stood out and fulfilled a number of traits the Vikings were looking for in bringing in someone to compete as a receiver and/or returner.
"He's a very talented athlete," Spielman said of Coley. "I'm not going to say that he is [Stefon Diggs], but a lot of the traits that we talked in our meetings with our coaches, with our scouts and myself, he had a lot of similar traits that Stefon Diggs had when we got him in the fifth round last year.
"I'm kind of anxious to see if that carries over," Spielman added. "We'll get an opportunity to see that this weekend."
Gedeon is a 'throwback' linebacker
Hodges, Coley and the rest of the Vikings newest additions will arrive in Minnesota on Thursday for rookie minicamp.
Linebacker Ben Gedeon, whom the Vikings drafted out of Michigan in the fourth round (120th overall) called in to chat with Allen and former Vikings linebacker-turned-analyst Pete Bercich about being drafted and preparing to arrive in Minnesota.
Gedeon, one of a draft-high 11 Wolverines drafted over the weekend, said he was grateful for the opportunity to play in the Senior Bowl in January. Gedeon believes that the all-star game helped him to garner extra attention leading up to the draft.
"The pre-draft process, you go to the combine and you're not in pads, you're not playing football," Gedeon said. "So going to the Senior Bowl, it gave me the opportunity to actually show what kind of football player I am."
Gedeon first played under Head Coach Brady Hoke but then spent his last two years at Michigan under Jim Harbaugh, who assumed the head coaching position in 2015. After going through a coaching transition and change of scheme, Gedeon said he's comfortable playing middle linebacker or on the edge.
"I've played in three different defensive systems at Michigan, so I've played all over the place in different schemes, so I feel comfortable inside or outside," Gedeon said. "I'm just kind of waiting to see where I fit in best on the Vikings, and wherever it is, I'm going to do my best to compete and be the best linebacker I can there."
According to Spielman, if there's one word to describe Gedeon, it's "throwback."
"He is a tough football player, very instinctive," Spielman said. "You may not be the best athlete, but your instincts and your smarts will carry you a long way at that position.
"Some people are going to ding him because he didn't run 4.5 or 4.6 [in the 40-yard dash], but I've never seen somebody beat him to the sideline," Spielman added of Gedeon, who clocked in at 4.75 seconds. "And that's because he's so instinctive and so smart that he can see and anticipate things to put himself in a position to make plays."
Spielman also said that Gedeon's instincts make him an effective blitzer, especially breaking through the A gaps.
Spielman on Lee's fit with Vikings defense
Minnesota drafted a pair of linebackers this year, the second one being Elijah Lee in the seventh round (232nd overall).
While Lee has room to improve against the run game, Spielman was excited about what he saw from the Kansas State junior against the pass.
"He fit the athletic traits that we're looking for," Spielman said. "He has tremendous cover skills, he can also blitz, and he has that length, speed and size that we covet. And he's a little bit raw, [but our coaches] do a great job of taking these raw, long, lean athletes and developing them."
Lee said his experience playing defensive end in high school has helped him be an effective pass-rushing linebacker. He added that he enjoyed meeting with Vikings linebackers coach Adam Zimmer and feels he fits the type of player the Vikings are looking for.
"I'm a rangy guy, I play sideline-to-sideline and I love making plays, so being able to fit in with that group kind of explains it all," Lee said. "Watching that tape and watching them play on Sundays, I felt like my attributes could fit in."
Rodney Adams: 'I have to come in and prove myself'
The first receiver drafted by the Vikings in 2017 can't wait to be in Minnesota.
Rodney Adams, selected 170th overall, said he's excited to meet his new teammates, interact with the Vikings coaching staff and "play a little football finally."
During his time at Miami, Adams was utilized both on offense and on special teams as a returner. When asked which position he's better at, Adams told Allen that he's confident in his abilities at both.
"My receiving ability, you know, get the ball in my hands and make a few guys miss and use my speed to get down the field vertically and use my quickness to shake people and get down the sideline," Adams said. "My kickoff return ability, you know, my ability to set up blocks and run past defenders who come at an angle, just to lay out in the end zone."
Spielman told Twin Cities media after the draft that he was impressed by Adams' speed and interested in seeing him compete as a potential kickoff returner. Cordarrelle Patterson, the Vikings primary kickoff returner since 2013, signed in March with the Raiders as a free agent.
Adams said he's approaching his rookie season knowing that he'll have to prove himself.
"It's a competitive league, and I'm going to have to do my part, show the coaches I'm coming to the team to do whatever they want me to do," Adams said "If it's kick returning or playing receiver in the offense, I'm there to do whatever they want me to do, to compete, to have fun with my new family and be ready for whatever they have me do."