Scott Studwell, who has been in the Vikings organization in various capacities for 38 years, stepped down as the team’s director of college scouting, a position he held for 12 years, following the NFL draft that concluded Saturday.
Studwell said he wanted to spend more time with his family and cut back on some of the extensive travel that comes with trying to scout each year’s draft class.
General Manager Rick Spielman said Studwell would remain with the Vikings in a smaller capacity.
“Scott has informed us that he is going to step down as the college director after the draft,” Spielman said. “But we will definitely carve out a role where he will be still a major part of this draft process. Then we’ll promote Jamaal Stephenson to his position.”
Stephenson, who played at Brown and was on the All-Ivy League team twice, has been with the Vikings for 13 years and has been the assistant director of college scouting since 2009. Stephenson was also named the NFC Scout of the Year in 2012.
Studwell said taking a smaller role suits him well now because he still wants to be a part of the Vikings’ scouting and decision-making process but just couldn’t maintain the heavy amount of work of his former job.
Studwell first came to the Vikings in 1977 as a linebacker drafted in the ninth round from Illinois and went on to play 14 seasons, collecting a team-record 1,981 tackles. He led the team in tackles in eight different seasons and was named to two Pro Bowls.
Since retiring as a player in 1990, Studwell held a number of different positions within the organization. He was assistant to the president and in player relations in 1991 and player personnel coordinator from 1992-2001 before becoming director of college scouting in 2002.
Here’s just a small sampling of players Studwell scouted and helped bring to the Vikings: Bryant McKinnie, Kevin Williams, E.J. Henderson, Chad Greenway, Cedric Griffin, Ray Edwards, Adrian Peterson, Sidney Rice, Brian Robison, John Sullivan, Percy Harvin, Phil Loadholt, Everson Griffen, Christian Ponder, Kyle Rudolph, Matt Kalil, Harrison Smith, Sharrif Floyd, Xavier Rhodes, Cordarrelle Patterson and the Vikings’ 2014 draft class.
A fitting reminder of Studwell’s longevity within the organization will come when Anthony Barr, the UCLA linebacker who will be one of the two final first-round picks by the Vikings under Studwell, wears his No. 55 jersey this season.
Some draft analysts said the Vikings gave up too much to Seattle — a second- and fourth-round choice — to move up to the 32nd overall pick and land Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who will likely be No. 3 behind Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder this season, but Spielman disagreed.
“The second turned into a first, so all you did was give up a fourth-round pick,” Spielman said. “So no, it was a deal that we felt was very important to try to get back into the first [round] to get one of these quarterbacks, and a lot of it had to do with not only do we like the player, but getting that fifth-year option. You only get four-year deals after the first round.”
What was Seattle’s reaction when the Vikings talked trade to them?
“We talked to everybody,” Spielman said. “We usually, the last three years when we’ve been able to trade back up into the first round, we start usually around pick No. 20 and start calling teams to see if anyone would be interested. There was some previous conversations with a lot of teams, and once Seattle was on the clock, we were able to finalize the deal.”
• Vikings coach Mike Zimmer on what positives he sees in Bridgewater: “His character is so high. I keep talking about the kind of players we want to come in here and to represent the Vikings and the fans. He is a guy who is going to be here all of the time, he is going to study, he is going to work, he is going to be a great advocate of the community and I think the Vikings are going to be very proud of him.”
• Spielman said UCLA football coach Jim Mora had high praise for Barr, the Vikings’ top draft choice: “Coach Mora said: ‘You’ll love this kid. He’s an extremely hard worker, he does everything to try to get better.’ He said, ‘There won’t be a better athlete that these coaches will have to work with.’ But not only what he does on the field and where he’s going to be able to go with his athletic ability, but he’s a great kid off the field and works extremely hard and wants to be the best he can be.”