(Note: This is a two-part series. The second part focuses on Spielman’s worst moves. For part one, an analysis of the best moves, click here.)
I came into this exercise fairly objectively—while I’ve always been a fan of Spielman overall, I don’t think his work has been infallible. Just before this year’s draft I had a quick online discussion with The Sportive Podcast’s “Clarence Swamptown”—one of Minnesota’s foremost Spielman detractors (at least on Twitter)—and he made some good observations of where the Vikings GM has gone wrong. The conversation gave me some perspective and helped balance the voice of a fanbase that can be overwhelmingly pro-Spielman at times. I will say, though, in the end, I found this two-part series weighted more heavily in favor of the “Best Moves” half. Spielman’s list of worst moves, at least for me, was thinner and more difficult to scrounge together; there were far less blatant failures than there were slam dunks. Perhaps that’s the nature of personnel in the NFL—for example, if you draft a player in the first round, that probably means he’s talented and has a good shot to succeed, so hitting on first-rounders should be the norm, not the exception. Regardless, as you’ll read in the descriptions below, I struggled with this list.
I imagine Swamptown would respond with something to this effect: Spielman’s biggest failures are consistent, smaller whiffs, rather than grandiose, headline grabbing ones (please correct me if I’m wrong, Clarence). And that type of failure—ill-fated mid-round picks, smaller name free agents that didn’t work out, etc.—is probably as important in contributing to a team’s success as the big splashes. It just doesn’t translate as well to a list like this.