Spielman has penchant for early offense

Adrian Peterson (Bruce Kluckhohn/US Presswire)

When Rick Spielman has had a big influence in the Vikings and Dolphins' drafts, it's been an offensive selection in the first round. That trend seems likely to continue in 2012.

When Rick Spielman was the general manager in Miami, the primary knock against him was that he consistently tried (and failed) to get a franchise quarterback to lead the Dolphins in the post-Marino era. He made trades. He made draft picks. None of them worked.

However, there is reason to believe that, given Spielman's draft history, it is improbable if not impossible for cornerback Morris Claiborne to be the Vikings' first-round pick. That's not how Spielman rolls.

Let's dial up the Wayback Machine and go back to 2002. Spielman had been promoted to the position of vice president of football operations/player personnel for the Miami Dolphins. He was in the position to make the draft calls for the Dolphins. However, when it came to a first-round pick, he didn't have one in either 2002 or 2003. One of the first moves made on his watch was to trade a pair of first-round draft picks to get Ricky Williams from New Orleans.

In 2004, his only season as Miami's general manager, Spielman cut a trade with the Vikings to move up one spot to take guard Vernon Carey – a player drafted to improve the offense. After Miami made a deal with Nick Saban, head coach Dave Wannstedt and Spielman were sent packing and he brought his acumen to the worldwide leader in sports in the Land of Disney. When Fran Foley proved too volatile to handle without tongs and a welder's mask, Spielman was brought in to be the de facto G.M. of the Vikings in May 2006.

Since then, he has overseen five drafts with the Vikings. He didn't have the title of general manager until earlier this year, but he was the man setting the table for the draft and bringing out the food. He may not have carved the turkey, but every draft had his fingerprints all over it. Since 2007, when the Vikings have drafted a player, it was typically Spielman that fielded the questions as to the reasons for making the pick. Why? He was the guy who had the answers.

In three years running the Miami war room, he had three first-round draft picks. He used two of them to acquire a franchise running back and the other on an offensive lineman to open holes for them. Unfortunately, Williams shot the deal by getting suspended because of his penchant for pot. Spielman moved north to Minnesota and has brought that same offensive mindset to the Vikings.

In five years, the Vikings have made three first-round picks under Spielman's guidance. The first was Adrian Peterson in 2007. The second was Percy Harvin in 2009. The third was Christian Ponder in 2011. The Vikings traded out of the first round in 2008 (the Jared Allen deal) and 2010 (there may not have been an offensive player Spielman liked enough).

In eight years as the guy who impacts the decision-making process in the war rooms of the Dolphins and Vikings, he's only made the pick four times. His first two years were forfeited for a running back. In the four picks he actually made, he selected an offensive lineman, a running back, a wide receiver and a quarterback. Detect a pattern here?

If history teaches us anything – and that's what history should do – if there was any further reason to believe the Vikings will take Matt Kalil with the third pick of the draft it would be Spielman's own track record. Every time he's been a position to pull the trigger on a first-round pick, it's been an offensive player. That may be bad news for Clairborne, but at least Justin Blackmon is still in the mix.


John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.


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