WAHKON, MINN. – The Vikings have eight picks in the NFL draft. General Manager Rick Spielman wants to add at least two more.
Spielman said the team’s annual goal is to compile at least 10 draft selections. The Vikings have a pick in every round with an extra third-rounder received from Seattle in a trade for receiver Percy Harvin.
“We have eight right now, and a lot of that [movement] doesn’t happen until you’re on the clock,” Spielman said Saturday during the 19th annual Arctic Blast snowmobile rally to benefit the Vikings Children’s Fund. “Heck, last year they pulled me out of a press conference to go get [Cordarrelle] Patterson because you never know. But I really, really think we’re going to do a lot of movement in the draft.”
Spielman said he thinks the Vikings have a lot of flexibility with the eighth overall pick and plans to be aggressive in the draft with the idea of trading down for more picks, or up for a certain player.
“Everything is a possibility; we’re in February,” Spielman said.
One option with the eighth pick could be a quarterback. Spielman laughs at mock drafts in February because with the draft three months away, he doesn’t know yet who the Vikings will pick.
He does, however, likes the depth at quarterback in this draft and he doesn’t necessarily think the eighth overall pick has to be a quarterback.
“There’s so many things that can happen, but we have to get to the bottom of it first where we’re homing in on guys,” Spielman said. “Once we home on specific traits we’re looking for at that position and we say, ‘These are three guys that we are really want,’ I’ll have a pretty good indication of where we’ll be able to get those guys at what point in the draft, but all that will play itself out.”
Zimmer, others attend
Among those with Spielman at Arctic Blast this weekend included coach Mike Zimmer, who suggested to Spielman that they should make the trip to Lake Mille Lacs, and three future free agents: running back Toby Gerhart, wide receiver Jerome Simpson and defensive end Everson Griffen, who all expressed some interest in returning to the Vikings.
“I’m just trying to show my love to the Vikings and basically tell them that I want to be here, and I want to be a Minnesota Viking,” Griffen said. “I’ll just let the chips fall where they may, and whatever I did last year on film hopefully is enough that they want me back here.”
Griffen and Gerhart got their first chance to meet Zimmer in a relaxed environment while on the trip, but Simpson is very familiar with Zimmer during his four seasons with the Bengals.
“I just wanted to be around my teammates and have fun with this Arctic Blast and be around seeing people from Minnesota,” Simpson said. “It wasn’t like I was trying to do, I guess, a suck-up move. I know Zimmer already.”
Gerhart said he’s interested to see how many teams pursue him in his first experience as a free agent. While he’d like to become a lead running back, Gerhart said he also understands the league is about longevity.
“You see all the health stuff coming out, and I know my parents and my wife are like, ‘Hey if you stick around Minnesota, you can play longer and walk when you’re 40,’ ” Gerhart said. “There’s two sides to it. We’re going to weigh everything, see what happens and make a decision.
GM on Henderson, Cassel
Spielman touched on two rosters moves that happened the week with the decision to release linebacker Erin Henderson and quarterback Matt Cassel opting out to become a free agent.
He said Henderson’s release was a difficult decision but said the franchise will continue to support him. He was arrested twice in a little more than a month on drunken driving charges.
“He’s done a lot of great things for our organization,” Spielman said. “I know he’s had a rough stretch down here, and those are tough decisions to make, but that doesn’t mean we don’t care about Erin Henderson the person.”
Spielman also said the Vikings are open to signing Cassel again, but the move made sense for him from a business standpoint.
“We’ve already been in contact with his agent,” Spielman said. “I talked to Matt two nights ago on the phone. Technically, he’s a UFA now, and I’m sure we’ll be visiting with his agent down the road as we go.”