INDIANAPOLIS - Listen to Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman talk about the upcoming NFL draft and it's easy to identify a trend. Spielman wants everyone to know he'll seriously consider trading the No. 3 pick, open to moving back if the right deal materializes.
On Thursday at the NFL combine, Spielman made his most public declaration yet on that front, saying directly, "We're definitely going to be looking to move out."
Sure, some of the rhetoric might be the requisite poker bluffing that can be used to improve draft leverage. But the new GM has also made it clear he believes the Vikings' roster is in a state that will require a large stockpile of talented players to upgrade.
So while Spielman remains confident in the kind of difference-maker he could land if the Vikings keeps the third pick, he's also entertaining his desire to accumulate as many picks as possible.
"In order for you to sustain a roster and a competitive roster year in and year out, you have to fill that roster with young draft picks," Spielman said.
At present, the Vikings expect to have 10 picks for April -- until further notice.
"The thing you have to be careful of is if you do trade back, how far do you trade back before you get a very good player compared to a difference-maker?" Spielman said. "So as this process continues, we'll definitely home in on that."
Game of tag
Spielman also confirmed Thursday that the Vikings will not use their franchise tag this year.
Still, the team's conversations with agents of their in-house free agents continued heating up in Indianapolis. Eighteen Vikings are set to hit the open market March 13. But the list of notable players with expiring contracts is small, including tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, linebackers E.J. Henderson and Erin Henderson, safety Husain Abdullah and receiver Devin Aromashodu.
The best since AP
It's quite possible that no running back present at this year's combine will be selected in the first round. Alabama's Trent Richardson, widely regarded as the best back in the draft class, had arthroscopic knee surgery earlier this month and will not participate in combine drills. And plenty of skepticism exists regarding the elite talent of the rest of the running backs.
As for Richardson? Draft analyst Mike Mayock of the NFL Network believes the Crimson Tide star is the best running back prospect to come into the league since the Vikings took Adrian Peterson at No. 7 in 2007.
"His size-speed ratio is great," Mayock said. "He's got tremendous feet for his size, really good balance and good vision."
Straight outta Compton
South Dakota offensive tackle Tom Compton, who played his high school ball at Rosemount, hopes his experience this week at the combine will enhance his draft stock.
Before Thursday's assembly line of measurements, medical exams and psychological testing, Compton spent Wednesday night talking with as many NFL teams as possible.
"Kinda like speed dating," he said.
The 6-6, 314-pound Compton needs to show teams he can handle a big step up in class, jumping from the Football Championship Subdivision to the NFL. He believes he has a good understanding of the game and solid athleticism. He had a strong showing at the East-West Shrine Game last month and believes he's currently a mid-round prospect looking to climb up the draft board.
The next big chore will be tackling Saturday's drills, something Compton has been preparing for in Orlando the past few months with the help of sports performance trainer Tom Shaw.
"I just want to get out there and do it already," Compton said. "I'm anxious to get going. I'm confident I'm ready to perform well."