Vikings hold 'Top 30' event, will begin final draft meetings on Monday
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Prospects began arriving on Tuesday afternoon for the Minnesota Vikings' annual "Top 30" event, which will bring the bulk of the team's pre-NFL Draft preparation to a close by Wednesday night.
However, vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman told reporters on Tuesday morning team officials plan to take "a few" late trips to spend more time with potential targets before the draft kicks off on April 28.
"There's a lot of stuff that we go out to do as well, and so some guys we have a very strong interest in aren't here or won't be here with us," Spielman said, shortly before an Athletes in Action charity luncheon in the Vikings' fieldhouse.
"When you're putting your plan together to prepare for the draft -- hey, these are the guys we want to make sure we're bringing back here, because we have a few questions here or there, and there's other guys that we won't bring back that we have already been out there or have already done our due diligence. Because there are so many bodies that you are trying to get to know, there is, again, a method to the madness."
The Vikings have been attending pro days and conducting private workouts for more than a month trying to fill in whatever holes existed after campus visits in the fall, the Senior Bowl, the scouting combine and other events. Area scouts participated in two weeks of meetings before the combine and will be back on Monday, when coaches take on a larger role in the process of setting the draft board during nine consecutive days of meetings.
Though the late visits might end up being most telling -- in 2009, for instance, the Vikings visited receiver Percy Harvin and his family shortly before drafting him No. 22 overall -- the "Top 30" event can help answer questions the team has about players personally or medically.
"Each and every guy that's here, I'll sit down with him and just try and get a feel for how they would fit on our football team," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "That's important. It's more than just talent. We try and tell kids that. But we have to determine whether or not it's a fit."
The Vikings differ from many other teams in using most or all of their 30 allotted visits to the team's facility at once.
Players reported to be participating this year include: Tulsa fullback/tight end Charles Clay, South Carolina cornerback Chris Culliver, TCU quarterback Andy Dalton, Abilene Christian receiver Edmund Gates, Georgia defensive end Justin Houston, Troy receiver Jerrel Jernigan, Connecticut linebacker Scott Lutrus, Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett, South Florida safety Mistral Raymond, Southern California tackle Tyron Smith, North Carolina linebacker Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina tight end Ryan Taylor, Portland State tight end Julius Thomas and Temple defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson.
"We have just about as much time as we need from a coaching standpoint," Frazier said, "where not only can our coordinator talk to him but his position coach can sit down with him in a different setting, in our setting and go into great detail about what we do and also what he did in college. We have a little bit more time in this environment."