EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Vikings are taking a look at history and numerous forms of data as they prepare for the 2017 NFL Draft.
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman met with the media earlier this week and said Minnesota's front office and scouting staff has placed a higher emphasis on analytics in the past few years.
Spielman noted that the Vikings aim to have all of their draft picks reach "blue" status, a coding he uses for players who turn into Pro Bowlers and top players at their position. Players who have a red label after a few years in the league are considered solid starters.
Spielman said the Vikings look at more than game film or combine numbers to evaluate a player. They also use a multitude of factors including psychological testing to form a grade on college prospects.
"We go all the way back to 2005 now, and what we graded them as college, what they ended up being with their pro grades, how they ended up performing and you take those two and then you start, that's when the analytics come spinning back in," Spielman said. "And we're to the point now where you can say, 'Well, this guy that made it that was a red player or a blue player, had out of the 2,500 traits that we looked at from effective commitment in a psychological score to his arm length to a short shuttle, those were the three most important things at the offensive center,' OK, they spin it through their algorithms and bam, 'This guy is similar to that guy that came out in red,' or bam, 'This guy is similar to that guy that failed,' " Spielman added.
Put in more simple terms, Spielman said the Vikings look at players around the league who are successful and try to find draft picks who mimic those traits.
"We are really developing every year, and this year took another significant step," Spielman said. "I guess we are almost in the process of cloning right now … is maybe the best way to put it."
One area that Spielman and the Vikings look closely at is a player's love of the game. If two players are similar in athletic ability, Spielman said one player might be ranked ahead of another based on his perceived passion for football.
"That's a major part of it. In every player that I've probably missed on, and I've learned, is that you can have height, weight, speed, all the athletic ability, but if you truly don't have passion for playing this game, and we call them underachievers, and if you have a U on your card, we've learned not to take those guys regardless of how talented they are from a physical standpoint," Spielman said. "Because unless you love what you do when you get up every morning, I don't think you're going to have a chance to have success.
"With the pressure and the demand that's on these players, and these coaches, every Sunday, and every week, you'd better have passion for what you do or you're not going to have a chance. And we've really honed in and focused on that passion part," Spielman added. "All those things are keys in breaking ties for us. Once we do the ability part, and have them stacked on the ability part, then all those ancillary things, which are a lot, come in to separate it for us."
The Vikings have eight picks in the draft, but none in the first round. Minnesota's initial pick is slated to be No. 48 in the second round.
Celebrate the draft with the Vikings
Stefon Diggs and Everson Griffen will join Kentrell Brothers, Isaac Fruechte and David Morgan at U.S. Bank Stadium for Vikings DraftFest on Day 3 of the draft. The event runs from 10:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Tickets are still available for purchase by clicking *here.*
Vikings Legends Tyrone Carter, Chuck Foreman, Paul Krause and Randall McDaniel are also expected to appear at Saturday's family-friendly event.