Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman stopped a reporter who said it was “obvious” the Vikings had no interest in Notre Dame middle linebacker Manti Te’o, a player many considered to be a first-round target of the Vikings.
“I wouldn’t say we didn’t have interest,” Spielman said. “I would say Te’o is an extremely talented football player who is going to have a great NFL career.”
Spielman passed on Te’o three times in the first round. Te’o slid past the team’s picks at Nos. 23 and 25 and again when the Vikings traded back into the first round to take Tennessee receiver Cordarrelle Patterson at No. 29.
Te’o, whose embarrassing Internet girlfriend hoax story was among his many pre-draft concerns, was taken in the second round, 38th overall, by the Chargers.
“After being around Te’o, he’s an even better person than a football player,” Spielman said. “It just didn’t work out, but we were able to get some significant needs filled with some players on our board who we felt were very talented. I don’t have any question in my mind that Manti Te’o is going to be a heck of a football player in the NFL.”
Call me, maybe?
Patterson was starting to think the promises weren’t as sturdy as they seemed. Having struck up an instant bond with Vikings receivers coach George Stewart during a visit to the team’s facility in early April, Patterson remained in close contact with Stewart throughout the month. Then on Wednesday, a night before the NFL draft began, Stewart called with a vow.
“If you’re there,” he told Patterson, “I’m going to come and get you.”
At pick No. 23, the Tennessee receiver was still there. Yet the Vikings drafted Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. Then, 10 minutes later, Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes became the team’s pick at 25.
“The picks came up and it seemed like he was passing on me,” Patterson said. “I was like, ‘Come on now Coach. It’s getting a little weird now. Where you at?’ ”
To kill time, Patterson decided to go to the bathroom at Radio City Music Hall and then got a call that the Vikings had traded back into Round 1 and were taking him in the 29th slot.
“I took three steps out of the bathroom, I got the phone call and I got so happy,” Patterson said.
Floyd grew up basically on the streets of Philadelphia. Living without his parents, he stayed with his grandmother when he wasn’t bouncing between offers to stay with his high school coaches, teachers and others.
In September 2011, Florida suspended Floyd for the first two games for receiving $2,500 in cash over several months from someone outside the university. It was declared a violation of NCAA preferential treatment rules and Floyd had to return the money.
Floyd later was adopted by Kevin Lahn, the man who gave him the benefits.
Spielman said he was impressed that Floyd reached the NFL from such a humble beginning.
“That tells you the kind of person we chose to bring into this organization,” he said.