Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Spielman on the draft, Ponder and Bradford rumors

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: May 6, 2014 - 3:12 PM

Vikings general manager Rick Spielman met with the media today to discuss Thursday’s NFL draft, something he says can’t come any sooner.

“I know all weekend I’m in here shooting more holes in these players,” Spielman said. “How many more times and how much more film can you see?”

Spielman did say the draft getting pushed back two weeks was beneficial in that it gave him extra time to catch up on the scouting process after a throughout coaching search that led to the hire of Mike Zimmer.

“It’s been so long this process, and you guys have got to be tired of writing about this draft and the mock scenarios,” Spielman said. “And we’re tired, too. It’s been an extra-long time but [we’re] also very prepared.”

Before the afternoon media session, Spielman and members of the brain trust had gone through four hours of mock scenarios, including trading up and trading down. Spielman says the Vikings don’t know who they will select with the eighth overall draft pick, but he has a hunch that he hasn’t shared with anyone and certainly wasn’t going to share with us today.

Spielman, who admitted “I love to be active on draft day,” has started getting calls about his first-round pick. Some teams have asked about his second-rounder and fourth-rounder, too.

“I know there’s been a lot of calls coming in just on feelers,” Spielman said. “I had three yesterday. I already had two texts today. So everybody is just now starting to line up their dance partners.”

Spielman talked a lot about quarterbacks, including the two on his roster and one who currently plays football in St. Louis, and he mentioned that this quarterback class is deep.

Spielman said the decision to pass on Christian Ponder’s fifth-year option was to keep the team’s options open heading into 2015 and to maintain financial flexibility. He also emphatically said that the Vikings have no plans to trade Ponder before or during the draft.

“Christian is a still a very young quarterback,” Spielman said. “He has shown flashes but he just hasn’t been consistent as you wanted yet.”

He also shot down the rumor/report that the Vikings talked to the Rams about Sam Bradford.

“That is not true,” Spielman said. “I have not had any specific talks with the Rams.”

As for the quarterback class, Spielman said selecting Ponder with the 12th pick in 2011 won’t deter him from taking a chance on a quarterback or any other player if he feels they are worth the risk.

“You can’t be afraid,” he said. “Regardless of position, if there is a guy there you have strong feelings for whether it’s [pick] eight or 40 or wherever it is or 16, then you take him. The one thing you cannot be afraid of in this job is to take chances and take risks on guys you feel strongly about.”

Spielman did not unveil his draft board to us unfortunately, but he did acknowledge that linebacker is a position the Vikings will likely address.

And asked specifically about Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who is being linked to the Vikings in mock drafts, Spielman said that the presence of 2013 first-round pick Sharrif Floyd, whom he gave a vote of confidence to, “does not preclude us from taking another in-line pass rusher.” Spielman pointed out that you can never have enough pass rushers, especially considering how often teams are in nickel and other sub packages in today’s NFL.

So who will the Vikings pick eighth overall? We’ll mercifully find out in a little over 48 hours.

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Cleveland - LP: C. Carrasco 6 FINAL
Detroit - WP: K. Lobstein 8
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Arrieta 5 FINAL
Cincinnati - LP: A. DeSclafani 2
Washington - LP: G. Gonzalez 2 FINAL
Miami - WP: D. Haren 6
Toronto - LP: M. Buehrle 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: C. Archer 5
Atlanta - LP: T. Cahill 4 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 5
Boston - LP: W. Miley 7 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: B. Norris 18
St. Louis - LP: L. Lynn 3 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: M. Blazek 6
Kansas City - LP: K. Herrera 2 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: D. Robertson 3
Kansas City - LP: E. Volquez 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Danks 5
Texas - WP: N. Feliz 5 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: J. Alvarez 4
Houston - WP: T. Sipp 7 FINAL
Oakland - LP: T. Clippard 6
Los Angeles - LP: S. Baker 1 FINAL
San Diego - WP: B. Morrow 3
Pittsburgh - WP: F. Liriano 8 FINAL
Arizona - LP: J. Hellickson 0
San Francisco 0 Postponed
Colorado 0
Minnesota - WP: C. Fien 4 FINAL
Seattle - LP: T. Olson 2
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 4 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: C. Shreve 6
Cleveland 101 FINAL
Boston 93
LA Clippers 114 FINAL
San Antonio 105
Toronto 94 FINAL
Washington 125
Houston 109 FINAL
Dallas 121
St. Louis 1 FINAL
Minnesota 4
Montreal 2 FINAL
Ottawa 0
Los Angeles 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 1
Toronto FC 2 FINAL
Orlando City 0
Portland 0 FINAL
Seattle 1

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