Found November 16, 2012 on Fox Sports North:
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman doesn't travel as much for in-season college visits as he has in the past, having turned over some of those responsibilities to assistant general manager George Paton. Spielman has made a few changes to his schedule in the 10-plus months since he was given the position of general manager. One of those was cutting out mid-week trips to scout Thursday or Friday night college games, with Paton taking those trips now. Spielman says he designates Thursdays and Fridays as "college days," instead analyzing game film in his office before making trips for Saturday games. "What I did, that enabled me to stay in the office more, like I said, to be closer with the team, to be there with coach Frazier, to handle a lot of the other deals that come with this job besides just personnel," Spielman said this week with Minnesota (6-4) on its bye week. Pulling back even a little bit is a big concession for Spielman, who loves the college scouting and draft process. Simply look at Minnesota's last two drafts, where Spielman had his biggest influence, to see how he's succeeded. Previously, Spielman shared a lot of the responsibility for the Vikings' drafts with then-coach Brad Childress. Spielman, in his seventh season in Minnesota and first as chief decision-maker after spending six years as the team's vice president of player personnel, has set the foundation for the future of the franchise the past two drafts with a pair of impressive classes. The Vikings still have nine of the 10 players they drafted in 2011, including four starters and the hopeful franchise quarterback in Christian Ponder they've sought since 2005. This year's draft with nine of the 10 draftees still with the team has produced two starters already, including a cornerstone left tackle to protect Ponder, a nickel cornerback and a kicker who has surprised everyone except maybe Spielman and the team's personnel and coaching staffs. Spielman approached the past two drafts knowing he had to set the foundation for the future. "I think we had to because of the age of our team," Spielman said. "I know we were one of the oldest teams in the league. I think we're the fourth-youngest team right now in the league, and I think you have to continually build because if you can build that foundation through the draft and continue to have successful drafts or guys that can come in and contribute and play, you're always going to have a competitive football team." Ponder and tight end Kyle Rudolph, a second-round selection last year, highlight the 2011 group that includes starting safety Mistral Raymond (sixth round), starting right guard Brandon Fusco (sixth round), and backups Christian Ballard (defensive tackle, fourth round), Brandon Burton (cornerback, fifth round), D'Aundre Reed (defensive end, seventh round) and Stephen Burton (receiver, seventh round). DeMarcus Love is out for the season with an injury, but the team is high on the sixth-round offensive tackle. This year's draft started with a splash, with Spielman trading back one spot and still getting left tackle Matt Kalil, the player he had wanted all along. Armed with extra picks from the Kalil trade, Spielman made a move to get back into the first round and selected safety Harrison Smith. Both players have started from the regular season's first game. The third round brought cornerback Josh Robison, the team's nickel corner who plays a lot and has started three games. The fourth round brought receivers Jarius Wright, who provided a spark in his first regular-season game last week, and Greg Childs, who is out for the year after tearing both patellar tendons. But tight end Rhett Ellison was the surprise of the fourth round. Ellison, out of USC, wasn't well-known at draft time and said after being selected said he didn't think he would be drafted, but Spielman saw something in Ellison and he's become an effective blocker and shown better receiving skills than expected. "Sometimes when you take a guy like Rhett Ellison, I knew what kind of a football player he was and what kind of person, and those are the types of building blocks that you want to have," Spielman said. "I knew that he had the potential to fill a Jim Kleinsasser-type role. I knew what kind of special teams player he was. Jarius, we had a lot of similar discussions with him. He was too good of a football player on our board to pass up, regardless if you have a Percy Harvin here, because you're going to find ways to get him on the field or he's going to eventually be able to help you win ballgames. Some have immediate impacts. Some don't have an immediate impact but will have an impact some time down the road." Kicker Blair Walsh, picked in the sixth round, has maybe had the biggest impact for Minnesota. His selection also raised eyebrows because the Vikings had veteran Ryan Longwell. But Spielman and his staff had plans to replace their veteran kicker with a strong-legged youngster, and Walsh fit the bill. Minnesota's scouts and special teams coordinator Mike Priefer saw something in Walsh despite a poor senior year at Georgia. "You knew the talent Blair had," Spielman said. "But that's the fun part of; when Blair had his struggles as a senior, why did he have those struggles? And are those struggles correctable? That's the part of really honing in and digging in. Mike Priefer was a big part of that. He's going to be the expert in that area. I rely on people that are experts in their area." Spielman knows the path to sustained success starts with scouting, drafting and developing. Building through the draft is Spielman's philosophy. He said strong drafts keep the team from overspending in free agency and having to make rash decisions at the trade deadline. The GM and his staff expect the impossible, which is to be "100 percent right" in each draft. They will not only evaluate their picks, but also the picks of each other team. If Minnesota misses on a player, they want to know why. The Vikings don't seem to have missed often lately. As good as the past two drafts appear, Spielman isn't patting himself on the back yet. "I'll judge it three years down the road," Spielman said. "Some guys can be flash in the pans, but you want to make sure you see where they're at three years down the road from now." Follow Brian Hall onTwitter.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Christian Ponder regains confidence at just the right time

Christian Ponder is in the middle of his second season, and all the ups and downs one can handle. The product of Florida State University showed flashes in his rookie year, but in his second, he’s made the leap to leader of the offense. The Vikings are in the hunt for a playoff spot. However, they won’t get there without Ponder raising his level of play. After a very good start...

Standing up for Guy, Kluwe rips HOF voters

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. Chris Kluwe is out supporting another cause, but this one hits a bit closer to home for the outspoken Minnesota Vikings punter. Kluwe has written an open letter to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee, which was posted on Deadspin.com, and admonished voters for continually ignoring former Raiders punter Ray Guy, considered by many the best-ever...

STATS MAN: Adrian Peterson has 2,000 Yards in His Sights

Entering the 2012 season, not only was Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson coming off a devastating knee injury, but his career arc before he blew out the ACL and MCL in his left knee appeared to be heading downward.Peterson led the league in rushing in his second season (2008) with 1,760 yards.  He has not surpassed 1,383 yards in a season since then; in fact, his season rushing totals...

Donovan McNabb Would Still Like To Play Poorly For Your Team

A bunch of starting quarterbacks were injured in Week 10, meaning this coming weekend is going to be littered with unprepared rookies and substandard retreads as starters for a slew of NFL teams. It’ll be amusing at first and then just mostly depressing. One of the people who is sad to not be one of those retreads is Donovan McNabb. This ****** tweet comes from a recently created...

Peterson wins weekly rushing award

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson was honored with the FedEx Ground Player of the Week, sending a $2,000 donation to the Minneapolis Junior Achievement cause.

Jeff Garcia questions Donovan McNabb’s work ethic

Donovan McNabb was one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL during his prime with the Philadelphia Eagles. He was a six-time Pro Bowler who led the Eagles to a whopping five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl during his 11-year career in Philly. If McNabb focused more and tried a bit harder, Jeff Garcia says he could have been even better. Garcia, who served as a backup for...

Two Vikings fined for hits against Lions

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. Several Detroit Lions were upset about what they felt were cheap shots in last week's game against the Vikings, and the NFL apparently agreed, fining Minnesota linebacker Jasper Brinkley and safety Mistral Raymond this week. Brinkley was fined 21,000 and Raymond 7,875 for hits that came three plays apart during Minnesota's 34-24 win. The Lions were also...

Donovan McNabb Thinking Of Making Comeback & Erin Andrews Has Pottery Barn Fetish

• Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in Yankees hat • 2013 NFL Cheerleader Calendar Overload • Donovan McNabb thinking comeback? • SMH! Samantha Steele riding a horse • Erin Andrews has a Pottery Barn fetish • Huh? Auburn fans asking Obama for help • NEW: Gisele bra/underwear pics to peruse • Best of Bond Girl Berenice Marlohe Filed under: Daily Dump

Vikings likely to pursue reasonable PSLs

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- A top state official overseeing the new Minnesota Vikings stadium said Friday she expects personal seat licenses to be priced in line with fees charged at the Twins' Target Field and the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium -- if the team pursues the fees to help pay its share of the 975 million construction cost. The Minnesota Sports Facilities...
Vikings News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.