“Oh, no. I was serious about it,” Studwell said. “One hundred percent.”
As it turns out, Spielman and the Vikings danced gracefully through the draft’s first night. Not long before the draft began, Spielman convinced Cleveland GM Tom Heckert that another team was scheming its way up to the Vikings’ slot at No. 3 to nab running back Trent Richardson, the player the Browns most coveted.
We might never know whether that was a legitimate possibility or sly posturing. But somehow Spielman plucked four picks from Cleveland without giving up anything at all. The Vikings simply slid from No. 3 to No. 4 while gathering additional selections in Rounds 4, 5 and 7.
In a draft full of exhilarating moments, that might have provided the biggest jolt.
Said assistant GM George Paton: “That started us off with really good energy.”
The Vikings had gained more than just a good feeling, however. They had collected valuable draft currency, enough to buy flexibility and peace of mind.
So after picking Kalil, they zeroed in on the player they always had coveted with their second pick: Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith.
The Vikings debated holding still until their next pick — at No. 35, early in Round 2 — to grab Smith. But that selection would not come until Friday evening. And the thought of waiting frazzled Spielman.
“It would have been a sleepless night,” he said.
So the Vikings reassessed the “hot spots” where Smith conceivably could slip away, then plowed through trade offer calls to teams in the early 20s — Detroit at 23, Pittsburgh at 24, Denver and Houston at 25 and 26.
Eventually, Baltimore latched onto an offer that enabled the Vikings to jump from No. 35 to 29 while surrendering a fourth-rounder.
Harrison Smith was all theirs.
“I’m not sure we make that move back up without those picks we got [from Cleveland],” Paton said. “But we all started talking. Why even risk losing Harrison? We have the ammo. Let’s go get him. Because after Harrison, we didn’t think there was any other safety who could come in and start for us.”
Day 2: A lesson in patience
After drafting Smith, the Vikings were left with only one Friday selection — a third-rounder, pick No. 66.
With a huge need to upgrade his passing offense, Spielman watched as the first run on receivers began. Brian Quick, Stephen Hill, Alshon Jeffery, Ryan Broyles and Rueben Randle were all taken in Round 2.
And as that receiver run continued, the Vikings began eyeing three potential cornerback targets.