Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said character concerns and off-the-field issues were not the reasons Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes fell to Minnesota at the 23rd and 25th picks of the NFL draft on Thursday night.
“No,” Spielman said. “[They’re] very clean. We met with both of them numerous times. There were no personal issues, no off-field issues when it comes to what we look for in bringing [players] into our building.”
Spielman said he must have gone through “a thousand different scenarios with the 23rd and 25th picks, and I can tell you honestly that [Floyd] was not in one of them.” Of course, Spielman never imagined eight offensive linemen would be picked ahead of him.
Five of the top 10 picks were offensive linemen, and the biggest surprises were the Giants taking Syracuse tackle Justin Pugh No. 19 and the Bears taking Oregon guard Kyle Long at No. 20.
“It worked in our favor because a lot of our needs that we were trying to fill were on the defensive side of the ball,” Spielman said. “I think the run on the offensive linemen had an [big] part of those guys falling to us.”
The Vikings now have two corners who are 6-2 in veteran Chris Cook and Rhodes, who is even a little heavier than Cook at 217 pounds.
“I know we’ve really tried to emphasize getting bigger corners,” Spielman said. “That was kind of our criteria. We got a lot of calls on trades for the 25th pick and then Xavier Rhodes was sitting there — a big, press, shutdown corner that, we feel, is going to be a great matchup with the type of receivers that we have to face in [the NFC North].”
The Vikings play Detroit’s 6-5 Calvin Johnson and Chicago’s 6-4 Brandon Marshall a combined four times a year.
“[Rhodes] has the instincts to play zone, but he plays a lot of press and he’s a shutdown press corner,” Spielman said. “He’s as big a corner as you can get and he can run and he has ball skills.”
Floyd has flexibility
There’s little doubt Floyd will be expected to replace veteran under tackle Kevin Williams as the full-time starter in 2014. Williams, who turns 33 in August, is in the final year of a contract that’s guaranteed for $4.9 million.
For this season, it’s possible Floyd could slide to the nose position and replace Letroy Guion as the starter.
“I think he has the flexibility to play inside at nose,” Spielman said. “But I think his true position is the three-technique just because of his natural quickness and athletic skill set. … He can play the run, he can rush the passer. He played some end his junior year and when they moved him back inside to his natural position, he really flourished and showed what he can be as a defensive tackle.”
Floyd is the first defensive tackle the Vikings have selected above the fourth round since Williams was taken ninth overall in 2003.
Big Pat back … for a day
In a ceremonial move, the Vikings re-signed former nose tackle Pat Williams, who has been out of football since his Vikings contract expired after the 2010 season.
The idea for the one-day contract, Williams said, came from Spielman, who called him last month.