While folks you know may spend most of their Rick Spielman thoughts decrying suspect trades involving Chris Herndon or Kaare Vedvick, those transactions don’t tell the whole story.
Not by a longshot, in fact.
The Vikings fired Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer in January after back-to-back playoff-less seasons. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was hired to replace Spielman along with Kevin O’Connell from the Los Angeles Rams as head coach.
Well, Adofo-Mensah has a big act to follow, at least per plucking talent from the NFL draft. With Spielman in charge, the Vikings drafted more players than most teams who would have staying power in the league, evidenced by a statistic posted by Jason Fitzgerald on Monday, the founder of OverTheCap.com.
What does this mean? Well, 104 players drafted or signed in undrafted free agency by the Vikings are competing for roster spots as of August 29th, 2022. If they began a career with the Vikings, that player is a part of the ‘104’ number.
To the tune of the third-best in the NFL, Spielman “knew how to pick them.”
Of course, this does not mean that Minnesota made a mistake in changing the guard last January. The franchise had hit a standstill, seemingly content with seven and eight-win seasons. But the mark from Over the Cap indicates Spielman was an adept drafter of talent. Men he found in April and subsequent UFDA transactions have staying power in the league.
Frequently amid the last eight months, Spielman — and Zimmer especially — are used as posterboys for “all that was wrong with the Vikings.” Indeed, both men deserve ample blame for the recent descent to mediocrity. But that denunciation shouldn’t wholly blanket everything associated with the Vikings.
Spielman knew how to draft players. Either that — or Fitzgerald made up the stat, which is not the case. The former Vikings boss could scout draft talent. But because the franchise encountered recent losing ways, it’s tempting to assert that Spielman was incompetent.
How do you think the Vikings wound up with Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, Kyle Rudolph, Harrison Smith, Everson Griffen, Xavier Rhodes, Adam Thielen, Eric Kendricks, Danielle Hunter, Stefon Diggs, Danielle Hunter, Dalvin Cook, Brian O’Neill, and Justin Jefferson?
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 Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).