Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman held a pre-Draft press conference Tuesday and he touched on a number of hot topics.
The whole thing can be viewed by clicking here.
I have watched it a few times now, and here are my notes:
January 20-25 - Senior Bowl
January 26 - Pro Bowl
February 17 - First day of franchise / transition player designation
February 19-25 - Scouting Combine
March 11 - Free Agency begins
March 23 - Owner's Meeting
April 7 - Off-season workouts begin for teams with new HC
April 17 - 2014 Schedule Released
April 21 - Off-season workouts begin for teams with returning HC
May 2 - Deadline for RFAs to sign offers
May 8-10 - NFL Draft
Let’s assume for a second that Rick Spielman is full of you-know-what and has had his sights on Matt Kalil since December. So, why not just come out and say so?
If this is the case, then Spielman deserves a lot of credit for successfully generating a trade market for the third overall selection despite the presumed absence of the two premier passers in this class. If he manages to finagle a trade back and still land Kalil, then the guy is going to look like a freaking genius and many of us are going to have a whole ton of crow to eat after doubting the guy all offseason long.
So, with Andrew Luck and RGIII already off the board, what kind of trade interest might the Vikings get when they pick up their phones in the war room? Let’s take a look.
The Vikings are, for a lack of a better phrase, blitzing the media with the contention that they are undecided as to whom they will select if they keep the third overall selection.
After weeks of Rick Spielman using the media to confuse anyone that knows how to read Head Coach Leslie Frazier has jumped into the action and is also putting forth the notion that the Vikings can justify passing on USC left tackle Matt Kalil.
“You’ve got to really weigh your options,” Frazier said in a recent interview. “Because the philosophy [in the NFL] has always been to get the game-changer. And left tackle is not necessarily the game-changer. Usually game-changers are the guys who can score you points. Receivers. Quarterbacks. So what are we measuring that left tackle against? It’s a loaded debate.”
See, and here is where I either imply that I think this is either all “smoke” or imply that I think the regime running this team is full of idiots.
It is not a loaded debate.
This is not about positional importance. It never should have been, and it certainly shouldn’t be now. This is about selecting the best player for your team, the prospect that your thousands of scouting hours, that you have bought and paid for, tells you is the best football player for your team.
It is that damn simple.
Spielman wants to insist that Matt Kalil, Justin Blackmon, and Morris Claiborne all have been given the exact same grades by the Vikings front office. As someone that has seen what real scouting reports (not the kind you find on the internet) look like, I find it very, very hard to believe that these three players have the exact same grade.
The reports are far too detailed, far too personalized to get me to believe the process has identified no differences between three very different individuals.
If you read our comments section and have done so recently, you have surely noticed that a new Vikings site called Vikings Draft Card has a very staunch supporter (highly unlikely to be the writer of the site, right? Right.) that loves dumping links from that site onto ours.
The site appears to have just been started this month and, by all appearances, has a main purpose of persuading Vikings fans that Matt Kalil is not worth being drafted in the three spot that the Vikings currently hold and should instead draft Morris Claiborne. I am all about opposing views and going against the grain, so I really do recommend checking out the site. However, we won’t be adding them to our blogroll until/unless the site owner decides to put his or her name (or any name) to the words they write.
Still, I have to give that site credit (and the person posting links in our comments section) for pointing us towards a report coming out of Green Bay that essentially leaks Wonderlic scores of a number of top prospects in this Draft class.
Much has been made of the reports that Claiborne scored an astonishingly low Wonderlic grade of “4” which would assuredly rank him amongst the lowest scores ever. Even Vince Young did better.
However, the latest leaks suggest that maybe Kalil isn’t the brightest bulb on the tree either.
The score is lowest amongst the reported scores for offensive tackles, and second lowest of all offensive linemen reported on. He scored 11 points less than the average score for offensive tackles, but is still 11 points ahead of Claiborne’s score which can allegedly be written off to a learning disability.
So, there you have it, some evidence that might suggest the Vikings should pass on the USC left tackle that yours truly rates as the second best player (yes, including quarterbacks) in this class. For me, this just more evidence that the Vikings instead should take any trade offers very seriously.
A Wonderlic score may or may not be any sort of indicator of a prospect’s future as a football player, but I still think the Vikings must take Kalil if they remain at the three spot.
I can’t help but notice a trend.
Today, the trend that is glaringly obvious if you are bouncing around Vikings sites and looking at the “Twitter Thing” at the bottom of our page involves the Vikings passing on USC left tackle Matt Kalil.
Morris Claiborne is at the center of the speculation, despite weeks of media types labeling this as “smoke” and dismissing it as gamesmanship. I, myself, still find it hard to believe that this is anything but “smoke” and still believe that Kalil is the obvious choice if the Vikings stay at the three spot.
I do, however, fully buy into the idea that Rick Spielman wants to trade down. He wants that right deal to present itself so that he can load up on picks to help expedite his plan to rebuild the roster. Of late, it seems a trade partner might be more interested in jumping up to snag Trent Richardson at the three spot, and I would recommend keeping an eye on the Bengals who have a clear need at running back and are armed with two first round picks.
In our debate last week, it was clear that most of you sided with Brett’s judgment that staying at three and selecting Kalil was far better than my feeling that trading back for as big of a ransom as possible is the best route to take. For better or worse, I think Spielman’s thinking is more in line with mine and he will be eager to trade back on Thursday, if even just a few spots.
Regardless, something that has seemed like a “sure thing” since February is no looking iffy. With local beat writers and connected insiders starting to doubt Kalil as the Vikings prospect of choice, the drama for Thursday night should be through the roof.
The other day I submitted myself to the torture of re-watching the “Missing Rings” special on my DVR about the 1998 Vikings. While watching the part where they discussed Cris Carter and all of the character issues that landed him on the open market for the Vikings to snag, I couldn’t help think about current free agent Jerome Simpson.
Simpson is by far the most talented receiver available right now, but teams are mostly acting allergic to the 26 year old after a substantial amount of marijuana in his position got him 15 days in jail and a three year probation period (and a likely NFL suspension). Of course, one more slip up by the cart-wheeling receiver and would certainly face a major suspension.
Simpson has improved over his first four NFL seasons with the Bengals and 2011 was his best from a production standpoint. He had 50 catches for 725 yards and four touchdowns.
After only having received a visit invitation from the St. Louis Rams, the Vikings have decided to bring Simpson in for a visit of their own on Friday.
The interest could be a signal that the Vikings don’t actually covet Justin Blackmon with the third overall pick, contrary to what Rick Spielman said yesterday.
Or, for the conspiracy theorists in the room, it could signal that Spielman actually does want Blackmon but is trying to make it appear like he doesn’t.
Or they just want to see what this kid is all about. Plain and simple.
The Vikings as an organization are suddenly faced with very limited options when it comes to their future inside the boundaries of the State of Minnesota.
The future of the roster, however, is one week away from getting a facelift and General Manager Rick Spielman admits that his options for the third overall selection have been narrowed to three: tackle Matt Kalil, receiver Justin Blackmon, and corner Morris Claiborne.
Some might argue that Spielman listing those three players is actually an expansion of options, considering Matt Kalil is largely viewed as the only viable prospect to select at that point.
The Pioneer Press reports that the Vikings have given equal grades to all three of these prospects and have not yet decided on who they would select should they decide to stay put and not trade backwards.
“What you’re saying (to the staff) is, ‘All these guys have equal ability,’ ” Spielman said. “What do you want? Do you want the receiver? Do you want the tackle? Do you want the corner?’”
The Vikings plan to “run the cards” on Wednesday, which essentially means everyone involved will take part in one giant mock draft and see some of the different ways things could play out on Draft Weekend.
Personally, I find it hard to believe that the Vikings would select anyone other than Kalil third overall. The reason is simple: a complete lack of red flags. So, unless Kalil scored a “4” on his Wonderlic Exam or is a closet diva that got his wrist slapped by the NCAA, it should be fairly obvious who the choice is.
Still, there are some (like Adam Schefter) who believe the Vikings will choose someone other than the popular choice that has become Kalil. If this actually happens, be ready for water cooler chat time at the office to look more like a demolition derby if you work in the Twin Cities.
Spielman did say that he has received some preliminary calls from other teams (which quite possibly means he hasn’t at all) regarding the possibility of the Vikings trading backwards. Spielman, however, said he would wait until Thursday night to make any sort of decision about that topic.