Rick Spielman Would Pound the Table for 1 Rookie in Vikings 1st-Round Orbit

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Rick Spielman is no longer in charge of the Minnesota Vikings, but if he were, one 1st-Round prospect would jump off the page, possibly to Minnesota on draft night.

Spielman worked for the Vikings from 2006 to [early] 2022 and was officially the general manager from 2012 until his termination after the 2021 regular season.

Rick Spielman Would Pound the Table for 1 Rookie in Vikings 1st-Round Orbit

He now writes for the NFL think-tank site, The 33rd Team, and authored a list of six prospects he’d “pound the table for” during the draft. One 1st-Rounder is outside the Vikings orbit — quarterback Bryce Young from Alabama — likely on his way to the Carolina Panthers with the draft’s first pick, according to oddsmakers.

But after that, the other guy who could be on the board at Minnesota’s No. 23 pick is a popular name — Texas running back Bijan Robinson.

Rick Spielman Would
Aaron E. Martinez/American-Statesman via USA TODAY NETWORK.

Robinson is the top tailback in this year’s class and could’ve been a Top 3 pick if he owned a time machine traveling back to 2014 or so. And after Young on Spielman’s list, Robinson lived. He explained his affinity for the 21-year-old, “Robinson is one of the most talented players in this year’s class, and he might just be getting punished for his position. When you watch him on tape, it’s hard to poke any holes in his game. There is no question about his speed, vision and power as a runner. He can catch the ball out of the backfield and is solid in pass protection.”

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Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports.

“What’s even more impressive is when you sit down and talk with this young man. He is so mature on and off the field with his approach to the game. Robinson scored off the charts on some physiological and intelligence tests. From the knowledge that I have, he’s excellent in the classroom,” the former Vikings general manager continued.

Robinson is this draft’s most fascinating prospect. He’s universally considered a Top 3 football player in the draft who can, quite frankly, end up with any NFL team based on how front offices value running backs. Are you the best team in the NFL and also own a late-1st-Round pick? Who cares — you might get the Robinson for the next 4-6 years. Congrats. It’s how we do things now.

Spielman finished his Robinson speech, “When you have a player this talented to go along with all high football character and leadership qualities, to me Robinson is a can’t-miss prospect.”

Texas running back Bijan Robinson (5) celebrates a touchdown during the annual Red River Showdown against Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas on Oct. 8, 2022. © Aaron Martinez/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Vikings football inherently involves a dominant running back, or at least that’s been the gig since 2007. If Vikings current RB1 Dalvin Cook is traded or released — a likelihood — Minnesota will venture into a season without an Adrian Peterson or Dalvin Cook for the first time since 2006. Let that sink in.

It is unclear if Robinson will plunge all the way to pick No. 23 or if the Vikings leadership is enamored by 1st-Round running back. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah brings an “analytics background” to the job, and those gentlemen tend to minimize the importance of big-name running backs.

Still, Minnesota is probably headed to a running back by committee with Alexander Mattison, Ty Chandler, and Kene Nwangwu, but it shouldn’t surprise you to high heavens if the team with a history of employing Peterson and Cook continues the elite RB streak. It seems to be in the Vikings DNA.

With how the New York Giants have handled Saquon Barkley’s contract, as an example, drafting Robinson seemingly grants a team the rights to the NFL’s best running back for six years — after four years of a rookie contract, the 1st-Round fifth-year option, and a franchise tag after that.

Spielman also pounded the table for Sam LaPorta (TE, Iowa), Tank Bigbsy (RB, Auburn), Jartavius Martin (DB, Illinois) in Rounds 2-3, and D.J. Johnson (EDGE, Oregon) in Rounds 4-7 — in addition to Young and Robinson.

The NFL draft is nine days away.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.