Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman was feeling good enough about the defensive puzzle he’s assembling to share a lighter moment from the morning after the first round of the NFL draft saw him select a penetrating defensive tackle, a shutdown cornerback, an explosive receiver and, yes, no middle linebacker. “My brother called me this morning and asked for a job,” said Spielman, referring to younger brother Chris, a four-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker who hasn’t suited up since 1999. “He said, ‘I still think I got it.’ But you know, he does have a new hip.” Older brother made a counteroffer that involved reaching even further back to 1990, the last year Vikings Director of College Scouting Scott Studwell played for the Purple. “I told Chris I’d sign him and Studwell and they could run in and out every other play to stay fresh,” Spielman said. “But that still leaves us without a third-down coverage linebacker.” Nothing was going to wipe the smiles off the faces at Winter Park on Friday morning. Not even a big hole at middle linebacker and no picks in the second and third rounds thanks to a four-for-one deal the Vikings made with New England to select Tennessee receiver Cordarrelle Patterson 29th overall. Defensively, Friday was a day to enjoy the still-incomplete puzzle that now includes three first-round difference-makers under the age of 25. Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, who many considered a top-five talent, was taken 23rd, while Xavier Rhodes, a 6-2 cornerback from Florida State, came two picks later. They join starting free safety Harrison Smith, last year’s 29th overall pick. “The draft just fell our way [Thursday],” defensive backs coach Joe Woods said. “These two defensive guys are arguably the best guys at their two positions.” Woods’ only complaint from Thursday was the delay that exists between the time picks are made and when they are announced on television. As a position coach, the only time Woods gets invited to the team’s war room on draft day is to join in the conference call of a player picked at his position. “My office is right next to [defensive line coach] Brendan Daly’s,” Woods said. “I heard him come back after we picked Sharrif. The TV still didn’t have the Colts’ pick at No. 24, so I wasn’t ready to celebrate. But I asked Brendan if he had heard what we’ll do at No. 25 and he said, ‘I think we already took the corner.’ ” At that moment, a scout knocked on Woods’ door and summoned him to the war room. The defensive celebration had spread to the back of the defense.
Vikings thrilled with their three top-tier acquisitions
Minneapolis Star Tribune | Apr 27