NFL Combine 2013: Vikings GM Rick Spielman Transcript

Greg Smith-US PRESSWIRE

During his presser at the NFL Combine, Vikings GM Rick Spielman spent more time deflecting trade questions regarding Percy Harvin.

Opening statement:

"Just like any other general manager here, probably very excited about the process that’s getting ready to take place. It’s our first opportunity and our coaches’ opportunity to get in front of some of these kids that weren’t at the Senior Bowl or some of the all-star games. It’s an opportunity to get to know some of these juniors. I think this is going to be a very significant class of juniors that truly impact the depth of this draft. We come in full force down here and this is where we build our roster. And this is the starting point of us building from some of the stuff that we were able to accomplish last year and get done, and hopefully we’ll continue to have the success of building through the draft."

On the status of Percy Harvin …

"I wasn’t sure if I was going to get through this with without a Percy Harvin question or not in this process. As I stated earlier, we have no intent to trade Percy Harvin. Anything related to his contract or any discussion will all be kept internally. I think everybody understands what type of player Percy Harvin is. He’s a dynamic playmaker, not only on offense but at different position. But also what he brings us as a kickoff returner."

On the process of evaluating prospects …

"We put every prospect through the arsenal. What we do from a character background check, but how we interview, our psychological profiling on each player. We make our determinations and I rely on our experts in the area to tell us if potentially we can handle a player like, if he’s going to be a good fit in our locker room or if this is a guy that we want to stay clear of because it’s going to be an issue for us if we bring him into our building. Along with those opinions and sitting there face to face with that player and getting to know that player and having our coaches get to know those players, we’re a very big believer in the interview process. Down at the Senior Bowl, we have our coaching staff interview everybody at their position. All our scouts, myself and Leslie will try to hone in on as many guys as we can. But to make sure we’re bringing in that type of quality person, not only as a football player but as a fit in the locker room and what we’re looking for off the field. Those are the things that we try to uncover and determine."

On the DT position of the draft …

"We just got out of eight days of draft meetings and preset our board as we come down here and feel this is, at least in my opinion, one of the strongest defensive tackle classes that have came out in a while. And with the defensive ends and some pretty good offensive linemen also. I think this draft is – I don’t know if I want to say sexy, but how splashy it’s going to be from a media standpoint or from the fans’ standpoint, but there is a lot of very, very good football players in this draft that are going to have a major impact on a lot of teams that may not be those recognizable names or those splash positions per se."

On how involved are his coaches in the draft process …

"The one thing I think that helped us last year and where we had some success with the kids that we brought in last year was our scouts and our coaches had a huge meeting and identified what it takes from a characteristic standpoint and skill set standpoint to function in our schemes, offensively and defensively. By getting everybody on the same page, we identified guys as a Viking fit. Is this guy going to fit what we need him to do in his particular position? There are guys that are very good football players but they may not fit from a scheme standpoint. Our coaches get very heavily involved. We’ve got the initial board positioned right now. Those will get maneuvered as our coaches go out and get to know these kids here at the combine, if they go out to a couple spring workouts here and there, as we bring them in on the top-30 (visits) and as they go through their film evaluation, we will really hone in with the coaches opinion on whether he’s going to fit what we need the coaches to do from a schematic standpoint or not, along with character and everything else."

On whether coaches concentrate on the scheme fit or evaluating a player …

"He’s evaluating a player. He’s not going to know if he’s a scheme fit if he’s not evaluating a guy. He’s got to know his strengths and weaknesses and I really rely on not only what I’ve seen but what our scouts have seen, but what our coaches have seen too. If there is a discrepancy between the coaches, we’ll sit down and do a group study and actually watch them together to come up with a consensus."

On Tavon Austin comparisons to Harvin …

"Generally, he is a very explosive football player. It’s amazing that for his size, and I don’t know his official size yet, but what he does from a return standpoint, what he did from a receivers standpoint, what he did in that Oklahoma game from a running back standpoint, he’s a pretty unique football player."

On the value to prospects like Manti Te’o dealing with media scrutiny …

"We’re going to find out if he can handle the media or not. I’m sure he’s going to be up at this podium one day and people will have some questions for him. But he’s getting a lot of experience in handling the media scrutiny per se. We’ll have him in our room. We’re going to spend a lot of time with him because he’s a very talented prospect. People have asked why he didn’t play so good in the Alabama game. I don’t know the answer to that, but I’m sure there will be a lot of questions thrown his way. But from the view of the overall big picture, he is a very talented football player."

On how Teo handles the media scrum Saturday …

"We’ll watch that. I think that’s a very valuable part of the process in handling media when they have to talk in front of you guys. It’s not a be-all, end-all decision-maker, but we can tell if this guy needs some polish or technique if we do draft this guy on how to handle the media. Or this guy is pretty polished. One thing we’ve done this year, too, is we’ve done a lot of digging on social media and have a pretty in-depth picture of these players that are involved or not involved in social media, how many times they tweet or twit – I don’t know the technical; I’m not a technical guy. But it’s interesting to see the patterns on some of these social media players as well."

On whether the focus on social media has ramped up …

"I’d say a lot more in-depth this year. And probably just because of all of the highlight of what happened with the Notre Dame linebacker."

Assessment on Harrison Smith and why having a difference making safety is important …

"We were very fortunate and felt very good about Harrison last year and moved up into the first round to go get Harrison. I really believe that you have to take care of the middle of your offense and defense and Harrison made a huge difference in our defense on the back end, not only because he’s a good football player, but because he’s very intelligent. It’s going to be interesting to see with some of the things that the offensive coaches did this year on the read option and things like that how are the defensive coaches going to adjust to that. But safeties, because they’re playing against move tight ends that are almost like big receivers coming out, do they have the ability to play man coverage against those type of athletes. I think the safety position, it’s a good safety class this year as well. But it makes a difference on your back end, especially if that guy is going to be the quarterback of your defense from there. … Our scheme is interchangeable. We go free and strong, and when we’re looking for guys, they have to be able to do both."

On safety competition opposite Harrison Smith …

"Jamarca (Sanford) is an unrestricted free agent. We’ll meet with his agent down here. We feel very good about some of the depth that we have – Mistral Raymond, Robert Blanton, who had to step in and play last year, stepped in and played very well and was a core special teams player for us. He was a slash-corner that we moved to safety. We’ll look at the depth in this draft, as well, to continue to add playmakers. I think a lot of that will determine on what happens with us being able to keep our own players."

On how to evalulate safeties?

"We really try to hone in on our division and who we’re playing – against Green Bay, against Detroit, against Chicago. Those teams have very good quarterbacks and they have some pretty talented skill guys. Because those are the teams I know we’re going to have to face twice a year. So as the coaches determine the scheme we’re going to run and as we bring in those players, that’s also the determining factor on the type of personnel that we’re going to have match up, especially within the division. So yes."

On featuring Peterson and balancing that with keeping Harvin happy by spreading the ball around …

"I get paid to bring ‘em in. Coaches get paid to solve those issues. But I know it’s a tough balance. And because of Kyle Rudolph and his emergence as a tight end. But I think the more playmakers we can bring, the more it’s going to help our young quarterback continue to grow and develop. And you can never have enough talented players. I don’t want to ever say, ‘Ya know, Adrian has to get his touches. Percy has to get his touches, whether we use him some as a running back, or from the slot or from a kickoff returner. But he has to touch the ball X amount of times just because he’s that talented. So I know Bill Musgrave, our offensive coordinator and our offensive coaching staff really have to know and understand our personnel and have to get the ball into those guys hands when you have potential playmakers like that. Because those guys help you win ball games."

On philosophy of building through the draft versus supplementing through free agency.

"I’m not a real big believer in spending in free agency. We’re always going to try to build through the draft and continue to do that. Because I think that way you maintain a roster that can be competitive year in and year out. Not only on the field but also from a financial standpoint of staying within the cap and looking at the overall cash. I think you have a lot more success when you sign your own players as unrestricted free agents. Because you know them the best. And if you screw up signing one of of your own guys and he doesn’t pan out, then that’s a fault on you. I think it’s a little riskier when you go out and try to sign other team’s UFAs. I don’t know if you looked at the statistical analysis of how many of those guys have actually had success coming into new programs. And sometimes, even those guys when they come in, I don’t want to call them rookies because they’re veterans. But they take time to adjust to their new teammates, take time to adjust to their new surroundings, take time to adjust to the new offense that they’re running.

"So it’s not always as smooth a transition as people would think it would be. But last year we took the position of not spending. We spent some money on John Carlson. But other than that we spent it on one-year guys that we gave really low contracts. I don’t want to call them Rent-A-Players … And then when you draft, my philosophy is always try to have nine or 10 draft picks come in. It’s an open competition that way. So a veteran might be slightly ahead of [a draft pick] as you’re going through training camp and as you’re going through the preseason. But is that rookie going to pass him in Week 3, 4, or 5? Does he have the chance to be developed into a better player than where that current vet is? So it doesn’t lock you into the situation where you’re saying we have to keep this vet because we’ve paid him X amount. We can keep who we think is the best available player and the best player for us. And that’s the kind of philosophy we had last year."

Saying you won’t trade Harvin?

"We have no intent of trading Percy Harvin. Thank you."

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