Vikings GM Rick Spielman 'wanted to stay patient' on draft's 2nd day
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings fielded plenty of calls about moving into the second round of the NFL Draft to address another of the team's most glaring weaknesses, general manager Rick Spielman said on Friday night.
But Spielman liked the way the board was falling, with only four cornerbacks selected in the first 61 picks and depth remaining at receiver. So, the Vikings stood pat and took speedy Central Florida cornerback Josh Robinson with the third pick of the third round, No. 66 overall.
"I wanted to stay patient," Spielman said. "I don't want to lose all the ammunition that we have for (Saturday) and we have a lot of picks.
"We did get a lot of calls about trading into the second round, and when you see the board develop, you sit there and you see you have three or four options still and you're holding your breath."
The options narrowed as the Vikings' pick drew closer, beginning when Green Bay traded into New England's spot at No. 62 and selected Vanderbilt defensive back Casey Hayward. The Giants rescued LSU receiver Rueben Randle from his freefall at No. 63.
But then Indianapolis selected Clemson tight end Dwayne Allen, ensuring the Vikings could select Robinson or Montana cornerback Trumaine Johnson, who had visited Minnesota earlier this month but was swiped by St. Louis at No. 65.
"As you get closer to your pick and you get within 10 picks of you, you kind of start putting names on the board and this is the direction we would go," said Spielman, who still has nine picks remaining in Rounds 4 through 7 on Saturday.
"But sometimes I get a little superstitious and won't touch a card, will just leave it sit there because usually if I touch it, the guy's gone."
Robinson (5-10 1/8, 199 pounds) became the second potentially significant addition in as many days to a Vikings secondary that fell apart last season. And like safety Harrison Smith, the No. 29 overall pick out of Notre Dame, Robinson comes from a zone-based defense that incorporates similar concepts to what he'll be asked to do in Minnesota.
He primarily was an outside corner in UCF's quarters scheme, which is designed to take away inside routes with mirror techniques, recording 10 interceptions and 36 pass break-ups over 38 games (35 starts) in three seasons.
"I have a quick reaction, and of course everybody has speed at the next level, so I never really say that as a strength," said Robinson, who was timed as low as 4.29 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine in February.
"But I always tell everybody I'm versatile. I can do whatever you want me to do, whether it be safety, whether it's guard the slot, whether it's man, zone, anything -- that's something I've done at UCF, the ability to play all the special teams, and that's just something that's really helped me throughout my career."
Spielman pointed to Robinson's 38½-inch vertical, quickness, recovery speed and tackling ability as further evidence he can flourish in coach Leslie Frazier's Tampa-2 scheme.
"Everybody needs some cleanup," Spielman said. "But we really stressed in our meetings this year on, is this guy a willing tackler? Is he able to do the things that we need to do on defense? And one of the things we really wanted to hone in on was our scouts and coaches all being on the same page.
"As we watched this tape, and especially we went through the DBs, both in coverage and his ability to (run) support, and we got on the same page as far as everybody agreed this kid was more than willing enough to come up and hit you."
Robinson also has return ability, which is something the Vikings will be looking for on Saturday as they try to ease the burden on Percy Harvin.
Receiver tops the list of target positions the Vikings have yet to address, although the signing of split end Jerome Simpson earlier in the week potentially mitigates some of the emphasis there. Thirteen receivers were selected in the first three rounds, leaving Wake Forest's Chris Givens and Wisconsin's Nick Toon among the top players still available.
"I think it's a deeper receiver class," Spielman said. "There's going to be some quality receivers I think coming up (Saturday). So, we'll look and see where they stack up. ...
"There's some other quality defensive linemen out there. There's some quality linebackers out there. ... There's some quality offensive linemen still."
A tight end, a running back and perhaps another safety could come as well before the draft concludes on Saturday afternoon. The Vikings' first pick on Saturday is the 23rd of the fourth round (No. 118 overall), which they acquired from Cleveland on Thursday.
They also two fourth-round compensatory picks (Nos. 128 and 134); two fifth-round picks (Nos. 138 and 139, the latter from Cleveland); a sixth-round pick (No. 175 from Cleveland); and three seventh-rounders (No. 210, No. 211 from Cleveland and No. 223 from Philadelphia through New England).