Making A Tough Task Even Tougher

Posted by Mike Wobschall on April 18, 2011 – 10:19 am

I’m sure it’s hard enough to evaluate an entire draft class, give each player a grade and then stack a draft board that both ranks players in the correct order and also provides a framework to fill holes on a 53-man roster. But adding to the difficult for NFL personnel departments this time of year is the fact that it’s crucial to have a good understanding of not just how you want to behave during the draft, but also how the other teams are going to behave at the same time.

That’s the task at hand for Vikings VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman, who organizes the Vikings efforts on draft day. Each year he’s not only trying to figure out who the Vikings like, he’s trying to figure out which players other teams like and which players they’re likely to take. This is especially the case for teams ahead of the Vikings. In order to be sufficiently prepared to make a decision with the 12th overall pick in the 1st round, Spielman needs to figure out what will happen in the first 11 picks.

“I have a pretty good idea right now of who’s going to be there when we’re picking,” Spielman said last week while appearing on Pro Football Talk Live with Mike Florio. “What I’ll do is I’ll sit down with (head coach) Leslie (Frazier) and I’ll sit down with ownership once we get our board settled and solidified and then we’ll go ahead and go through those options.”

One of the options Spielman includes every year is that of trading either down or up to get the targeted player.

“But we’ll also go through a lot of scenarios where if we do move down, and how far can we move down, and what type of players will be there if we do move down in the draft,” Spielman continued. “Are those the same caliber of players that we can get at twelve? So we definitely do a lot of those scenarios.”

As if the task on its own isn’t challenging enough, it’s even more difficult this year with an uncertain climate due to the Collective Bargaining Agreement impasse.

“The thing that’s different this year from the past is that you had an idea of what teams did in trades and what they did in the UFA (unrestricted free agency) market, where they may have filled some of those needs,” Spielman explained. “Going into this draft, no one has filled any needs on their roster yet.

“It’s going to be a unique draft because I think there’s going to be a lot of movement on teams moving up and down and teams are really going to focus on if there’s a player they truly like, they’re going to go after that player.”

Only time will tell if Spielman’s hunch is right. If there is a bunch of activity – teams trading draft picks – then odds are a QB will be the targeted player. The Vikings may be in the market for one this year, and I’d estimate that at least 6 teams picking in front of the Vikings will have their eyes on the QB position as well.

“I do think because there’s no player trades – but there’s very few player trades on draft day anyway – I think that because teams haven’t filled their needs yet because there has been no unrestricted free agency, if teams really hone in on a particular position or a particular player I think there’s going to be a lot of activity,” Spielman reiterated. “And I think there’s going to be a lot of activity at this quarterback position, too, just because of how many teams need quarterbacks and because of the quarterbacks coming out in this draft.”

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