Sid Hartman: Spielman impressed with draft choices
- Article by: Sid Hartman
- Star Tribune
- June 3, 2007 - 9:14 PM
None of the Vikings draft choices have put on pads yet, but the impression of Rick Spielman, the team's vice president of player personnel, is that the team became much more athletic as a result of the picks.
"Looking at these young guys, and I know we're only in shorts, we look like we have a lot better speed and athletic ability out there," Spielman said Sunday. "There still is a long way to go yet. These guys are young guys who are going to make their mistakes. There is a lot of athletic ability and speed from where we were."
Then he gave his impressions of the draft.
On first-round pick Adrian Peterson, a running back from Oklahoma:
"He is even more of a threat in the passing game than we anticipated because we never got to see it," Spielman said
"We saw in the workouts that he could catch the ball, but putting him out here and putting him in our scheme, he can do some special things in the passing game. The other thing you notice about him, everybody talks about his upright running style, but this guy has made some moves in space and on people at the second level [in the secondary] that are pretty unique. He's been pretty exciting to watch."
On second-round pick Sidney Rice, a receiver from South Carolina:
"He has gotten better. He is a tall, lanky receiver that has made some outstanding catches here," Spielman said. "He is becoming more and more comfortable in the offense. [Saturday] he made about three diving catches, and you see the uniqueness in his body control, in his range and the way he catches the ball."
On third-round pick Marcus McCauley, a defensive back from Fresno State:
"Right now we have a heck of a battle," Spielman said. "It's going to be Cedric [Griffin] and Antoine [Winfield] as our two starters," Spielman said. "Then we have a heck of a battle going on for that nickel spot, and McCauley is right in the mix.
On fourth-round pick Brian Robison, a defensive end from Texas:
"Saturday we had him and Ray Edwards rotating in with the [first unit], and we wanted to see him go up against Bryant McKinnie," Spielman said. "He held his own. The one thing that is unique about him is the high motor and high energy he brings to the defense. He has some exceptional athletic ability. All these guys we've been very impressed with how they are fitting with what we want them to do."
On fifth-round pick Aundrae Allison, a receiver from East Carolina:
"That is a kid we actually had first-day grades on. He has some potential to be our punt and kickoff returner," Spielman said. "We have a heck of a battle going on at receiver, and that's one area we wanted to address. We could have all three of these receivers making it on our 53 [roster] before it's all said and done."
On sixth-round pick Rufus Alexander, a linebacker from Oklahoma:
"He is rotating in there. He is a guy who is extremely smart and extremely instinctive," Spielman said. "The one thing we wanted this offseason was not only upgrade our depth at linebacker, but give us some help on special teams, especially the coverage unit. He definitely fills that role."
On their first seventh-round pick Tyler Thigpen, a quarterback from Coastal Carolina:
"Thigpen is rookie who is going to learn. He is 6-2, almost 230 pounds and runs a 4.6 and fits exactly what we're looking for from an offensive standpoint at the quarterback position," Spielman said.
On their second seventh-round pick Chandler Williams, a receiver from Florida International:
"He has been the surprise of the camp," Spielman said. "He's maybe as fast of a receiver as we have out there."
Spielman and coach Brad Childress have been impressed with the speed and quickness they've added to the team.
"It's just like recruiting in college," Spielman said. "It can look good on paper, but until you get them out there and get going. ... This is a business of wins and losses, and we're going to have to win some games. We're starting to gather up enough talent in order to do that."
Mauer needs work
The big reason the Twins are sending catcher Joe Mauer to Fort Myers, Fla., for rehab is they want to get him behind the plate and find out if that quadriceps problem will linger.
You see the big ads the Vikings are running pushing season tickets and no doubt there is not the interest there has been in the past. But Vikings fans seem to be upset for a time and then they come back.
Lenny Wilf, one of the owners of the Vikings, is also a stockholder with the Yankees. While visiting here the past week, he told the story of how George Steinbrenner's Yankees pledged to send a $1 million check to Virginia Tech for the families and survivors of the recent massacre. Speaking of Steinbrenner, Tommy Lewis, the son of Phil Lewis, who was the longtime general manager of WCCO radio, was telling the story at his father's funeral the other day of how good a person Steinbrenner can be. Tommy, who participates in the Big Brothers program, was attending a Yankees exhibition game in Tampa, Fla., with his Little Brother. Tommy approached George and told him he was from Minneapolis and was a friend of mine. "Just a minute," Steinbrenner said. He went into the Yankees clubhouse and brought out a Derek Jeter bat and an autographed ball for Lewis' Little Brother.
Flip Saunders, the former Gophers player and Timberwolves coach, told the Detroit Free Press after his Pistons lost in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals to Cleveland that he isn't worried about his job.
"I feel comfortable," said Saunders who has two years and $10 million left on his deal. "I think the players do too. We've got to go and get better. That's basically what you do. Every year there is only one team that's happy and all of the other teams are doing things to try to do better." Chauncey Billups, the former Timberwolf, is a free agent, and the Pistons need to re-sign him. ... Gopher Illustrated.com reports that Minnetonka basketball player Anthony Tucker has committed to Iowa. The Gophers had not offered Tucker a scholarship. ... Armstrong basketball player Alex Rubin will attend Illinois State. ... Eden Prairie's Willie Mobley took part in Colorado's football camp this past week and was so dominant that Colorado offered him a scholarship. ... Ralph Spry Jr., the Auburn, Ala., receiver who has committed to the Gophers, visited campus Sunday. Spry took part in the Alabama-Mississippi all-star football game on Saturday and caught three passes for 29 yards and one touchdown. ... The Gophers football opener against Bowling Green on Sept. 1 definitely will be played at 7 p.m. ...Brock Lesnar won his Mixed Martial Arts debut Saturday night, forcing Min Soo Kim to submit in the first round.
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