Fielding trade 'feelers,' Vikings lead detailed approach to NFL draft
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman understands the weight his selections carry when the NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday.
He takes responsibility for whiffing on Christian Ponder in 2011; was quoted as calling the same process in 2014 'torturous' and now spends chunks of his days leading up to the draft by playing out different scenarios in his own mock drafts.
Oh, and he's seen your mock draft and he disagrees.
"Everybody reads the mocks because we're tired of yelling at each other," Spielman said at his pre-draft media conference on Tuesday. "At night I read the mocks, kind of get caught up on things. You guys are missing some names on our spot at 8, I can tell you that."
Along with some Vikings staff, Spielman spent four hours on Tuesday going over certain draft scenarios, preparing for what could happen in the first round and later.
Through all that preparation, the Vikings' lead authority in draft matters has a good idea who he wants to pick at No. 8. But he's not telling anybody in the organization yet, not even the Wilfs.
"No one knows who we're going to take right now," Spielman said. "I have a pretty good indication of I feel the direction we need to go, but I'm going to keep that to myself until Thursday."
Spielman has also continued communicating with fellow general managers. He said he fielded three calls on Monday and a couple text messages on Tuesday to feel out Spielman's thoughts on dealing various picks.
Since Spielman took over full roster control in his January 2012 promotion to GM, the Vikings have made draft day trades in both seasons. Both involved Minnesota moving back into the first round after making their initial pick.
Two years ago, the Vikings swapped a second and fourth-round pick to Baltimore to move back up into the first and pick safety Harrison Smith with the 29th overall pick. Last season, Spielman got the Vikings a third first-round pick when he swapped a package of picks to the New England Patriots to move back up and get Cordarrelle Patterson.
And now Spielman is working through all the possible scenarios this season to prepare for similar situations.
"Not only in the first round, but if we trade down in the first round, these three players are there," Spielman said. "What are you potentially going to do? How would you take them off the board if those three players were there? We do that when we're at our second round picks. We go through all different kinds of mocks.
"To me, people get tired of talking about everything. But the more I hear things, the more we can put ourselves in scenarios, when it comes up on draft day, you've already kind of experienced the worst thing that can happen to you on draft day and how you would react. I think that's really helped especially over the last two years of knowing when to move down, when to trade back up, when to go get players that you covet."
Pushing the draft back two weeks helped give the Vikings' new coaching staff time to acclimate to their new digs, but now that's over -- the normal anxiety sets in for draft prep.
It's possible Spielman will want to wait, possibly gun shy about picking a quarterback at No. 8 after having failed just a few years ago.
"I'm going to get criticized. I take full responsibility for Christian Ponder, is he a bust or not a bust?" Spielman said.
If the Vikings wait, they'll have to toe the line and aim to be the next team with a Russell Wilson or Nick Foles.
"I would say if we covet a quarterback at 8, and let's say the next quarterback we would not touch until the second round, we're going to sit there and be patient and wait," Spielman said. "That's where we have him. If he comes to us, great. If not, we'll get another very good football player and move on."