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Spielman: Vikings Have Taken Calls Regarding 23rd Pick

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Rick Spielman said Tuesday that he has received two phone calls so far from other teams interested in moving up to the Vikings 23rd overall spot in the NFL Draft on Thursday.

Minnesota is scheduled to make eight selections over the course of three days, but that could change, given Spielman's propensity for trades as Vikings GM.

This year's installment of the draft has already featured separate deals with Tennessee sending the No. 1 overall pick to Los Angeles, and Cleveland shipping the No. 2 spot to Philadelphia.

Much can happen in chunks of 10 minutes allotted for each team to be "on the clock" in the first round, especially from the opening bell to where the Vikings are slated to make their first selection.

"It will be interesting at the 23rd pick because I've already had two calls that I can verify today about teams potentially coming up our way," Spielman said. "We're going to have to make some determinations, and usually those decisions aren't made until we're actually on the clock."

He followed with reasons why. The first is wanting to see who is available.

"Is he too good to pass up? Two, what is the depth behind that position? If we do pass him up, do we have another swing at a guy we like at that same position, potentially in the second round?," Spielman said, "Or three, don't move out of that first round because of that fifth-year option and maybe try to move down within the first round and still get a player that you feel very excited to get."

The fifth-year option that Spielman mentioned applies to players drafted in the first round under the collective bargaining agreement since 2011. It gives teams the option of retaining high picks an extra year before the player's first contract expires.

Minnesota has taken the fifth-year option on 2012 first-rounders Matt Kalil and Harrison Smith for 2016.

The Vikings must decide by May 2 if they are using fifth-year options on 2013 first-round picks Sharrif Floyd, Xavier Rhodes and Cordarrelle Patterson.

Asked to verify the interest from other teams, Spielman said, "They've called specifically and not to say hello and stuff. They're asking me about the 23rd pick."

Asked if he is interested, Spielman replied, "I'm always intrigued. I'm intrigued in the second round. I'm intrigued in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth rounds. Usually you can't trade in the seventh." 

Here are three other quick takeaways from Spielman's press conference:

1) Homework by plenty of workers

Spielman opened by thanking "everybody that's associated with this process."

That list is more extensive than one might think when it comes to evaluate hundreds of prospects over multiple criteria.

It spans from the college scouting department, led for the second straight year by Jamaal Stephenson, to Head Coach Mike Zimmer and his staff, including new hires Tony Sparano (offensive line coach) and Pat Shurmur (tight ends coach) who brought previous head coaching experience, Director of Sports Medicine Eric Sugarman and team doctors on exams, support staff and consultants.

"When I sat back there and added it up, we had close to 100 people in some way, shape or form that put their hands on our draft process as we go through this. There's a lot of people that put a lot of hard work into it to try to help us make the best possible decisions."

2) Analytics on the rise

Spielman said Scott Kuhn is "leading our charge in analytics" and "took us up another notch this year in some of the ideas and how we applied the analytics to our draft process."

Zimmer has consistently stated he wants smart, tough, passionate players who love the game of football. Aside from those core principles, the Vikings have listed 32 traits to evaluate different position groups. They are rated from 1 to 32 in order of importance, and each position group has its own five most-important traits.

Despite the increased information, Spielman said decisions will continue to be based largely on what players show they can do on the field and gut instinct.

"It's over a hundred different categories that we narrow down to 32 that we narrow down to five," Spielman said. "They are used as a tool, not the decision process."

3) Wide open, but not necessarily a wide receiver

Much speculation, including in these recent mock drafts, has forecasted that the Vikings will tab a receiver in the first round.

Spielman, however, said the Vikings can be wide open in their approach because of: 1) re-signing players scheduled to become free agents; 2) adding veterans along the offensive line, at linebacker and in the secondary, and 3) believing in the receivers already on the roster.

"I believe it gave us a lot of flexibility going into this draft, so as I sit there and enjoy reading the mock drafts of everybody out there trying to determine what we're going to do, we are in a position to take the best player," Spielman said. "We're not honed in on a receiver in the first round. We'll look at the potential best available player, regardless of position. That's the way we've done it and we'll continue to do that because it ends up paying off for you, not only this year but as we go into the future years."

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