Notebook: Vikings GM bolts from presser in order to make late deal
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The first round of the NFL draft on Thursday night was nearing its end as Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman fielded questions inside the Winter Park fieldhouse about Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes.
After answering nine questions, Spielman excused himself as team spokesman Tom West explained that the GM would be back shortly. Spielman then sprinted toward the team's draft room, where assistant general manager George Paton and director of college scouting Scott Studwell were working the phones.
Turns out there was a good reason Spielman had to take a break.
Shortly thereafter the Vikings were back on the clock with their third pick of the first round, having traded a second-, third-, fourth- and seventh-round choice to New England for the 29th pick. The Vikings used that selection on Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.
"We had talked about potentially moving up to try to go get him (Friday), but when something came to fruition tonight while I was talking to you guys we wanted to jump on that," Spielman said. "We were very, very aggressive to go do that just because I know what he can do as a receiver. But especially what he can do as a potential punt and kickoff returner because he is magic in that area as well."
The Vikings had two fourth-round picks and gave up their first in the round, the 102nd choice overall, as well as their last of three seventh-round picks. That selection is 229th overall.
This means the Vikings will enter Friday without having a pick on that day and will have five picks left to make on Saturday when rounds four through seven are conducted.
Spielman said his presence at the first portion of his press conference was not an indication that he thought there was no way the Vikings would be able to swing the trade with the Patriots.
"You never know," he said. "It was something I wasn't expecting but when we were able to get something done we had to cash in on it."
Spielman wasn't the only key member of the Vikings' draft team who wasn't in the room when the trade talks heated up with the Patriots. Coach Leslie Frazier was doing a radio interview.
"They came in and started to signal telling me to cut it short," Frazier said. "I didn't know why. I soon found out why I needed to get back upstairs so we could discuss what was transpiring. It was well worth the discussion, and I'm glad we were able to cut it short so we were able to get back up there. It worked out great."
Frazier said he was "happily surprised" to find out the Vikings had obtained the Patriots pick.
"Before I left to go do the interview I had just talked to Rick and some of our other people about, 'What do we have to do to get back in the first (round) or do we have to wait until (Friday) to have chance to go back and get Cordarrelle,'" Frazier said. "They said, 'It may have to be (Friday).' It, of course, turned out to be tonight so that was great."
Thursday marked the first time the Vikings made three first-round picks in a draft since 1967, when they selected Clint Jones, Gene Washington and Hall of Famer Alan Page.
A significant price
The price for the Vikings to move up to the 29th pick wasn't cheap.
According to the NFL's trade value chart, the Vikings surrendered picks that totaled 649 points and obtained a pick worth 640 points.
The 52nd pick in the second round is worth 380 points, the 83rd pick in the third round is worth 175 points, the 102nd pick in the fourth round is worth 92 points and the 229th pick in the seventh round is worth 1.2 points.
The Vikings' remaining picks are in the fourth round (120th), fifth round (155th), sixth round (189th) and seventh round (213th and 214th).
Floyd's fall to the 23rd pick in the draft was one of the biggest surprises in the first round, considering many experts had him going much earlier. NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock, for instance, projected Floyd to go third overall to Oakland.
"I went through a thousand scenarios in that 23rd and 25th pick and I can just tell you honestly he was not in one of those scenarios," Spielman said. "For him to fall down to our lap, I know there was some conversations as he fell to potentially even move up but as the names kept falling off the board we had more than enough options to just sit there and let everything fall to us. When Sharrif fell to us it was something that was very unexpected that he would come that far because we had him that high on our board."
Floyd played defensive end in 2011 and then moved inside to his natural position of under tackle last season.
Not surprisingly, Floyd's fall in the draft led to questions about why no one was taking him and if there were character concerns. Spielman said he had no worries about Floyd's character and said he met with him "numerous times."
So what happened?
"I think because of all the offensive linemen, there was a really big run on offensive linemen in that first round, so some of those offensive linemen pushed down some of that defense," Spielman said. "It worked in our favor because a lot of our needs we were trying to fill were on the defensive side of the ball."
Who plays in the middle?
When the Vikings made the trade with the Patriots, there was immediate speculation they would use the pick on Notre Dame middle linebacker Manti Te'o.
The Vikings lost middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley to Arizona in free agency and right now the in-house options to take over in the middle are Erin Henderson or Audie Cole. Henderson would have to move from the weak-side position; Cole was a seventh-round pick in 2012 and is mainly a special-teams contributor at this point.
Both appear to be less than ideal scenarios.
"We've got some guys on our roster," who can play that spot, Frazier said, "but the draft is not over. I probably can answer that a little bit better on Sunday or Monday, but we have some guys on our roster who will compete for the position and we still have some time to maybe bring in a young guy as well."
As for the potential the Vikings could package some of their remaining picks to get back into the second or third round to grab a middle linebacker, Frazier said: "I'm sure we'll have it up for discussion. We'll talk about a lot of things between now and (Friday) and try to figure out what's best as we go forward."
Frazier said that if the Vikings don't get a middle linebacker out of this draft the team has "thought about some different scenarios" for how they would address the issue.
"We do have an idea for what direction we'd go if it doesn't work out in the draft," he said.
One possibility is that the Vikings could pursue veteran free agent Brian Urlacher, who was let go by the Chicago Bears.