Spielman Confident In Team’s Evaluation Of QB Class

Posted by Mike Wobschall on April 27, 2011 – 8:03 am

We’ve talked about a lot of different QBs here on over the past few months, from top prospects such as Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker and Cam Newton to the “next tier” of passers such as Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick and Ryan Mallett. Through it all, consensus has been absent and opinion has been rampant.

That’s the beauty of the NFL draft for NFL fans. Everyone has their opinions and there are so many players and so many scenarios that there’s a seemingly endless amount of topics to discuss and debate. When you add in mock drafts and talking heads on ESPN and NFL Network trying to guess how teams are going to operate on draft day, there is so much information and opinion that it can be confusing.

But Vikings fans can take solace in knowing that their teams draft room won’t be spinning when the 2011 NFL Draft begins on Thursday evening. The Vikings, under the guidance of VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman and his staff, along with the coaching staff, have evaluated this year’s class of QBs and it sounds like a plan is in place.

“We’ve done an extensive study, and every one of these guys has a strength and a weakness,” Spielman said. “We are identifying what those strengths are and what those weaknesses are. Specifically, if any of these guys’ weakness can be corrected, or is it an off-the-field weakness, or a leadership weakness, or an on-the-field issue. Everyone has different issues, we’ve been through that and what we feel comfortable with.

“We analyzed all this and went through every guy’s strength and weakness, and everyone got an opportunity to speak their mind.  We feel very confident with where we have these quarterbacks stacked.”

It’s good the Vikings feel confident in their evaluation of this year’s QB class because there’s a good chance one of those prospects will be on the roster later this summer competing with Joe Webb. And that leads us to another element of this year’s draft and entire offseason that Spielman brought up and indicated the team was prepared to handle: how the work stoppage impacts the Vikings going forward.

Specifically, the Vikings of course have a new head coach in Leslie Frazier and that means a partially new coaching staff. What also typically comes with a new head coach and coaching staff is more roster turnover than usual. This will inevitably breathe new life into the Vikings roster, but it also adds some complexity because it’s not certain when these new players – both QBs and players at other positions – will be able to begin practicing and acclimating themselves to the team with the work stoppage. This will all need to be factored in by Spielman and Co. during the draft.

“The other thing you have to look at in this draft, that is so much different than the drafts in the past, is that the rookies you bring in, if they’re not here, and they’re not here until August, they have missed all that time with the coaches, all of the OTAs and mini-camps,” Spielman explained. “I believe that they will be significantly further behind than a normal rookie class would be because of the lack of working with our coaches, lack of knowledge of the system, and getting acclimated to our game. We will have to be more patient with our rookie class; if the scenario comes up that these guys don’t show up until sometime in August.”

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To Trade Or Not To Trade, That Is The Question

Posted by Mike Wobschall on April 27, 2011 – 6:20 am

NFL coaches and personnel executives typically keep their plans and strategies close to the vest in the months and weeks leading up to the draft. Aside from engaging in some gamesmanship and subterfuge, there’s really no upside for teams to disclose their thoughts on certain prospects.

But there’s one issue Vikings VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman has been clear on in the build-up to this year’s draft: the Vikings want to find a way to recoup the (3rd-round) pick they handed over in last season’s Randy Moss trade.

Prior to and during the Combine, Spielman told reporters he’d like to find a way to score an additional selection during the draft, and he said the same thing on Tuesday while meeting with reporters during his annual pre-draft press conference at Winter Park.

“If we can get a pick we like and get a third round pick, we think we will have had a very successful draft,” Spielman explained.

But Spielman also said he’s taken his staff through other potential 1st-round scenarios, including the possibility of staying put at #12 and taking an impact player.

“There are players we’ve already talked about, that if he is available at the number twelve pick, we aren’t going to move, we are going take that player because we think that he’s significant enough to take him and not trade out,” Spielman continued. “We have been through scenarios where we’ve looked at our team if we move back, lost that player, but picked up a third-rounder. We have also looked at scenarios where we didn’t move back, didn’t have a third-rounder, picked that player and how that player would impact our football team.”

So while it’s crystal clear the Vikings will consider trading back in the draft this year to acquire an additional pick or two, it’s not clear when exactly the Vikings will make that move. It could be in the 1st round, or it could be at a later point.

In some respects, Spielman might not even have a good idea of when a trade back – or up – could happen. Much of how a team behaves during the draft is an after-effect of what happens in front of them.

“You have an idea, but I don’t know because sometimes there are some pretty good players up there, and (you don’t know) where they are going to come off,” Spielman said. “Now if one of those players that we have in the top five comes to us at twelve, I can tell you we aren’t going to trade out, we’re going to take that player.

“You’re going to have to sit back, be patient and wait. Then you’re going to have to weigh in when you’re on that clock and look at your options and how many bodies you have left so you could potentially move back, pick up a third round pick, and still get one of those three or four players that you would’ve taken at 12 anyway.”

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