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NFL.com Ranks Rick Spielman by Draft Success Among Peers

During this time of year, football brains are so “used to” studying mock drafts and scouting reports that it seems odd when any other form of football-related rankings hit the wire. For instance, who really cares about NFL QB Power Rankings in the middle of April? Nobody. April is about the draft.

But NFL.com aptly combined the worlds of the draft, general managers, and “ranking things” on Thursday. The guys and gals at NFL.com delivered a list of general managers in terms of drafting supremacy.

On the list, the Minnesota Vikings were represented by Rick Spielman — and Trader Rick, as he is affectionately labeled by Minnesotans, fared quite well.

Gregg Rosenthal at NFL.com considers the Vikings general manager the sixth-best drafter of talent in all of the business. He is only outdone by Chris Ballard (Indianapolis Colts), Kevin Colbert (Pittsburgh Steelers), Jason Licht (Tampa Bay Buccanneers), Brandon Beane (Buffalo Bills), and Mickey Loomis (New Orleans Saints).

The rankings did not adjudicate the “new” general managers to the business like George Paton from the Denver Broncos. It’s simply “too soon” to give a fair judgment. For context, the combination of Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock checked in as dead last among those executives that were eligible.

What’s more, Rosenthal’s rankings imply that Spielman is the best drafter of personnel in the NFC North. Brian Gutekunst of the Green Bay Packers ranked at #13. Ryan Pace from the Chicago Bears was near the bottom at #20. And then Brad Holmes in Detroit is allowed a few years to prove himself like Paton in Denver.

On Spielman, Rosenthal wrote:

“Spielman has quietly been with the Vikings since 2006 and received the general manager title in 2012. Selecting Justin Jefferson last year was the latest in a string of big draft hits (Stefon DiggsDanielle HunterEric Kendricks and Dalvin Cook). Plucking five Pro Bowlers over the past six drafts is impressive, though Spielman’s getting further removed from the 2015 bounty that landed Diggs, Hunter and Hendricks. The Vikings GM would rank even higher if not for a few first-round misfires (Laquon TreadwellMike HughesGarrett Bradbury) and a general struggle to solve the offensive line despite investing a lot of draft capital.

He maintains that Laquon Treadwell was the worst pick issued by Spielman — and Rosenthal is not wrong. The best pick to date per NFL.com is Justin Jefferson, although several Vikings heads could argue that Harrison Smith is a better or equivalent choice for the distinction.

Curiously, Bradbury is coined as a”first-round misfire,” and the Vikings center hasn’t even played his third year of football. Players take time to mature, so this classification of Bradbury is a bit shortsighted — or, Rosenthal can predict the future.

Spielman is generally applauded for most of his deeds as the Vikings general manager. This list confirms his approval rating. Nevertheless, some folks laser-point to Treadwell in efforts to decry Spielman’s body of work. And that is strange because it is, quite frankly, one bad pick.

On the whole, Spielman can be commended for his draft acumen — but then properly held accountable for routinely failing to solve the Vikings longstanding offensive-line woes. Particularly via pass protection.

Dustin Baker

Writer. Host of Bleav in Vikings Podcast w/B-Mac & Baker.

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23 days ago

Yes this is very fair. #6 is a pretty good ranking for Rick Spielman, and he deserves a lot of credit for what he has built since 2006. The team is a perennial contender and winner every odd season…. Every even season there’s reason for optimism… Until that stops , I see no reason to can the guy, it’s not easy to win in the en ef el. Lots of perennial loser franchises….. I’d rather root for the perennial heart breaker and have a reason to go, rather than try to drink enough to go root for a lions team…

23 days ago

What makes spielman terrible is his decision making when it comes to bring in pieces that will help the team like he is terrible at drafting QBS, lacks the insight on when to draft things of need, and always leaves the team lacking something it needs to get over the hump when he has the chance to fix it. Which is why the Vikings always just barely fall short of contention.

23 days ago

It’s kind of odd that Rosenthal wrote about “five Pro Bowlers over the past six drafts” when if he had just included the first draft of the Zimmer era, he could have said seven Pro Bowlers in seven drafts, but then maybe he doesn’t want to remind folks that Barr probably went to at least two Pro Bowls too many, and Bridgewater was only an alternate when he was named to the 2015 season’s Pro Bowl.

The single best pick of the entire Spielman era, from the 2007 draft forward, was the 5th rounder we spent on Stefon Diggs, even if Adrian Peterson is the single best player drafted by Spielman (Smith is probably #2, with Jefferson still on probation in my book).

I would argue that Treadwell is not the single worst pick of Spielman’s tenure, since he was picked roughly where the consensus was he should have been picked. There’s a difference between a bad pick (“What were they thinking drafting him there?”) and a busted pick (“Well, he should have been great, but boy did he turn out to be a stinker.”). Kalil and Treadwell were busted picks. Reaching for Christian Ponder and trading up for Cordarelle Patteson were bad picks, and Ponder was the single worst pick of Spielman’s Vikings career.

Cullen Dillard
Cullen Dillard
23 days ago

It’s apparent that several individuals believe that their insight in how an NFL franchise should be built is based on hindsight more than foresight!

To hire the right personnel for any “business’ an owner must be willing to make the tough decisions.

This current version of the Vikings has top notch leadership in every aspect of football management.

As fans we have no real clue on how to take a raw college drafted kid and turn him into an All Pro, Hall of Fame type.

I enjoy this time of year, because this is when the excitement starts to build for what the season can be.

Honestly, who knew that the ’98 Vikings were going to be that good prior to the draft that year?

Let’s pump the breaks on how good or bad things are until history proves it.

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