Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier and VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman have worked together in the draft preparation process since Frazier was hired as defensive coordinator back in 2007. But their working relationship is much different this year because Frazier is now the club’s head coach and therefore will work much more closely with Spielman and his personnel staff.
And while this is the tandem’s first run-through with the draft, it seems as if everything is running smoothly. Spielman has been effusive in his praise of Frazier’s leadership and communication style in recent weeks and on Friday at the Combine Frazier was just as complimentary of Spielman’s style.
“It’s been good working with Rick and that six-week period helped me a lot, just to see how he goes about things and what his expectations are and for him to get a feel for me as well,” Frazier said.
The 6-week period Frazier referenced is the period of time in which Frazier served as interim head coach following Brad Childress’ departure. During that time, Frazier and Spielman worked together to manage the day-to-day operations of the Vikings roster as they closed out a disappointing 2010 season.
But even during that rough stretch for the franchise, Frazier’s message to everyone who was listening was that those tough times would ultimately be looked back upon as the beginning of something great. Frazier’s mantra is and was that at some point in the near future, when the team had accomplished its goals, the team would look back at the end of the 2010 season and say “That’s where this started.”
“That was very beneficial for both of us,” Frazier said of working with Spielman for the final 6 weeks of the 2010 season. “It’s probably helped us to be further along than we would’ve been if I had been hired in February coming from somewhere else.”
Frazier was asked on Friday if he would defer to Spielman during the draft process. It’s a fair question because Childress held final say over the 53-man roster, but the Vikings have no revealed if Frazier has final say over the roster as a part of his contract as head coach. Ultimately, the “final say” aspect that many people lament over doesn’t matter, and it’s because Frazier and Spielman enjoy a respectful, working relationship.
“I have trust in Rick and the scouts,” Frazier explained. “They’ve done the homework on these players. While we were out trying to win games on Sunday, they were on college campuses gathering information.
“Myself and the coaches, we’ll spend mid-January to April getting to know them (the players), but not nearly to the degree that our scouts will have or Rick. So we’re going to trust them.”
Frazier also explained that while he and his coaching staff will trust the scouts’ research, they also know the scouts will rely on the coaches in the process.
“One of the good things about our relationship is they’re relying heavily on the coaches’ opinions,” Frazier said. “They’re not saying, ‘Okay you’ve got to coach this defensive lineman. You’ve got to coach this offensive lineman’ without the coaches’ input.”
Frazier said the coaching staff has had a chance to explain to the personnel staff what they’re looking for from certain positions.
“That kind of communication gives you a chance to be successful to the point where you trust a Rick Spielman because he’s educated on what our staff wants on Sundays,” Frazier said. “I have no problem if Rick says ‘Hey, this guy is an A+ player versus this guy being a C player. He’s done the background check, he’s done the homework, so I have confidence that he’ll have a good recommendation.”
Tags: 2011 NFL Draft, Leslie Frazier, Rick Spielman
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