EAGAN, Minn. — Rick Spielman will be able to move draft prospects over, up and down with the tap of a finger on a state-of-the-art, touchscreen-enabled electronic draft board when the Vikings are on the clock next month.
The technology will enable the Vikings general manager, the personnel department and coaches to efficiently work through the seven-round, 256-selection affair that spans three days.
The Vikings will be able to pull up a prospect's combine workout, college tape and other information to quickly review and make comparisons among position groups or across the board for the best-available.
Spielman showcased the 10-foot-by-40-foot board, which is made of 40 55-inch TVs as nearly 75 media members toured Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, which opened Monday as the Vikings sparkling headquarters.
"You can see it's a very poor draft this year. Sid Hartman is our No. 1 player on the board this year, so we're going to have to do some manipulating," Spielman joked about the legendary *Star Tribune *columnist who will turn 98 next week.
"What we've used in the past at Winter Park is magnets, and that's what I've used my entire life," added Spielman, who has more than a quarter century of NFL experience. "Yesterday was the first day I got a little bit of a tutorial. I'm getting used to it.
View a tour through photos of the Vikings brand new headquarters, the Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.
"When we go through our draft, what I'd do is go through each position, and we'd change grades or listen to the coaches, everything was handwritten, and it was all put on side boards and then the people who are running the computers would change the grades," Spielman said. "When we're in the draft and we're talking about stacking halfbacks, we do it vertically like this, and then you have to mesh it all together."
Spielman credited Vikings Director of Football Information Systems Paul Nelson for putting "all of this programming together."
"There's some electronic boards out there in some draft rooms, but I think this is the first of this size to have the ability to do what we're going to be able to do just by touching the screen," said Spielman, adding that the modern Draft Room is just one example of the commitment by the Wilf Family ownership group to best help the Vikings pursuit of a championship.
In addition to the primary board, Spielman said the personnel department will have a backboard of more than 700 players and have a backup physical system that uses the magnets just in case.
While it's incredible to think about organizing that much information, Spielman only needs the top spot for Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center against all other football facilities.
In addition to reviewing prospects on scouting trips, Spielman used his ventures to take pictures of facilities from coast to coast.
"I've been to a lot of college campuses, and when I knew we were going to build this new facility, I took a lot of photos, because in college, it's an arms race, even over at the [University of Minnesota] and their new facility, but to take different ideas and from a football aspect of how it flows, we spent two days at the University of Oregon when they built their new facility," Spielman said. "Just like everything else, the more you can go out and see, you figure out ideas. … It's going out there and seeing what's available and how you can improve it or what would best fit your organization."
Spielman said the amenities of Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, from advanced training and rehabilitation facilities, to the indoor practice facility and four outdoor practice fields, to banners that honor Vikings Ring of Honor members in a long corridor called the "Super Highway," place it at the top of the board.
"I don't think there's another building like this," Spielman said. "I know, for sure, not in the NFL, and I'd match it up against any in the country."