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Rick Spielman’s Vikings Are A Draft Weekend Wild Card

This is the time a year when NFL fans exercise their well-earned right to express opinions as fact, deal only in absolutes, and show off the skills they have groomed via Madden‘s Franchise Mode for years and years. In a lot of ways, Draft season is the most exciting time of year.

Those that have been following along here at Vikings Territory for awhile now, however, might know me to be a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to these definitive projections from fans and analysts claiming to know exactly what the Vikings will do or even claiming to know exactly what they should do.

One thing that irks me most are statements about which position they should take in which round. I am a huge proponent of “best player available” or, as Rick Spielman is known to do, trading around to try and fill a need in a spot that presents the appropriate value.

What I do not subscribe to is this idea that a man actually paid to make roster decisions would actually ignore an evaluation based on career-long projections in exchange for filling an immediate need for the position at hand.

As it turns out, according to Benjamin Allbright, my ideology may not be based on reality.


I do not know Rick Spielman. He has surprised me plenty of times over the years, sometimes pleasantly and sometimes not, and I cannot claim to have any insider insight. With that being said, I think Allbright’s statement fits with Spielman’s draft tendencies in a lot of ways.

Spielman is not afraid to stress a position of need, even if it is not a popular move (Christian Ponder). He is also not afraid to exchange picks with another team to try and get value at a position of need (Teddy Bridgewater). He has also shown that he is more qualified than the masses, as he should be, to identify these positions of need and make selections accordingly (Anthony Barr).

Ryan Boser documented in great detail the tendencies Spielman has displayed in years prior to 2015 in this guest post. It is an incredibly well fleshed out piece by a very intelligent individual, but even someone that has looked that hard at the predictability of Spielman had trouble identifying what would happen.

Boser followed up the analysis with this “Rick Spielman Mock Draft” which attempted to use the identified tendencies to predict the 2015 NFL Draft. Boser predicted two trades involving the first round and ended up giving the Vikings Todd Gurley, Marcus Peters, and Eric Kendricks in the first round.

In total, one of the ten mocked picks (Kendricks) actually ended up being a Viking. The fact that he got one right is actually pretty impressive when you consider the accuracy of expert mock drafts in general (it isn’t good).

Rick Spielman has set himself up to be one of the biggest wild cards in the NFL Draft landscape this year, however, and I think a lot of people that pay very close attention to this team are going to be hesitant to make any absolute statements about their Draft Weekend intentions with any certainty.

The process already has too many variables built into it to be overly predictable on an annual basis. Teams have a different perspective than fans on their needs, their long term vision of the roster, and they have much better access to prospects from a medical and character standpoint.

When you combine those facts with a very well-built roster like Rick Spielman is currently in charge of, then anything seems possible. At the very least, everything seems to be on the table.

He has players he could deal away. He has the fire power to go trade block shopping. He used free agency to provide himself some incredible flexibility in terms of “Draft needs” and could go in any number of surprising directions.

I guess that is the ultimate purpose of this post: Casual fans and diehards alike should expect the unexpected come Draft Weekend and try not to get too upset when things don’t go the way they planned.

If you think wide out is a huge need for this team, they may very well neglect to select your favorite guy. If you think wide out isn’t a need at all, they’ll probably draft one sooner than you prefer. They’ll go linebacker when your favorite guard is still available, or select a center when your safety of choice is atop your personalized big board.

About the only thing we can all seem to agree on right now is that the Vikings should target a punter late or as an undrafted free agent.

The great unknown is what makes the NFL Draft so fun, and the point of this rambling post isn’t to put a damper on your excitement, but to prepare you for the fact that your list of personal favorites is not (and will not) be under consideration in the Winter Park War Room.

Regardless of what happens, you should rest assured that this team appears to be in very capable hands and has a lot going for it even before a fresh crop of rookies are harvested in Chicago later this month.

The Minnesota Vikings are heading into this thing with very few, if any, absolute positions of need. They’re a playoff team that has already improved (on paper) this offseason.

As such, something tells me there are big things coming this time… bigger surprises than we are used to seeing. This year the Vikings are a big Draft Weekend wild card to keep a close eye on.

[NOTE: Just to make me mad (kidding, of course) and counter the spirit of this post, please use the comments below to make one definitive prediction that you just know will come true on Draft Weekend.]

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Adam Warwas

Adam Warwas (Founder) has been writing about the Vikings for a total of eight years. Five of those years have been here at Vikings Territory where he continues to surround himself with enough talented individuals that people keep coming back. As proud as he is of what Vikings Territory has become, his real treasures are in his home... a beautiful wife and three amazing children (and a dog named Percy).

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    1. Not as uncommon of a thought as it seemed to be right after free agency wound down… I wouldn’t be shocked if they went another direction.

  1. OK, here is one crazy prediction based on the notion that the first Vikings draft rumor you hear is the true one. We will rock the draft by selecting…Derrick Henry, running back, Alabama!

    1. I’ll see your Derrick Henry pick and raise you a three way trade with Dallas and a team drafting in the teens. We trade away AD to Dallas for their 2nd and 3rd, then trade our 2nd and two 3rd round picks to jump up and grab either Doctson or Treadwell.

  2. Of the Vikings 8 current draft slots they will make a selection at no more than four of them.

    1. Ooooh… predicting a trade-heavy weekend. Certainly would provide some entertainment if you’re proven correct!

    2. I agree with this prediction! Rick is a trader and will reposition us in each round to get his target without reaching one round too far for them.

  3. I predict, with their first round pick, the Vikings will. . . . .get their pick in on time!

    1. I could see it. For some reason I’m leaning towards trading UP for a highly coveted prospect this year… but who knows.

      1. You have me incredibly curious as to whom you think that pick might be, and the trading that would be required to accomplish the task.

      2. Just asking as we are so accustomed to slick Rick wheeling and dealing to trade down just a bit to pick up picks, just to trade them to move up a bit.. The last three years they have had many holes to fill and needed as many picks as possible to improve and had the room on their roster to sign a half dozen rookies. I just don’t see that as a necessary course of action this year as they don’t have that many holes to fill, and don’t have the room to sign numerous players anyway. This just might be the first year in Rick’s tenure where fewer picks at higher value will be not only possible, but the smart move to boot.

  4. We will not pick Will Fuller in the first round. (definite). Not sold on Treadwell (would not surprise me) Doctson or Thomas seem to me to have good upside/fit.

    I think they will see who falls…So a defensive player or Conklin is a definite possibility.. And a trade back would not shock me. If Denver needs a QB and there is a top 3 (for this draft) still left on board….Would not surprise me at all