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Spielman, Paton work overtime scouting young veteran free agents before league meetings

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman and his top assistant, George Paton, arrived in Phoenix a day early for this year’s annual league meetings.

No, not to golf. To kick the tires on some more prospects they think can add value to the bottom of the team’s roster.

Spielman and Paton attended the NFL combine for young veterans that was held Saturday and Sunday in Phoenix. The combine, which had 150 players, was for free agents who joined the NFL in 2014 or later or had their most recent contract released or expired.

“We were looking at some potential guys we want to bring in to the offseason program that stood out to us on Sunday,” Spielman said Monday during the owners meetings. “We’re also monitoring some guys in free agency, doing the pro days, getting ready for the draft. Doing our top 30 dinner plans.

“So there's about 18 diff things going on at the same time. But you're always working to see if you can get another player or two to help the roster.”

Some other notes from talking with Spielman …

—He feels the team can head into the draft knowing it has five guys who can start on the offensive line. “Those five can change, obviously because we don’t know what things are going to look like after the draft. But I think our job right now is to get as many qualified and create as much competition as we can up there.”

—He said he watched quarterback Teddy Bridgewater last week as he continued his rehab from that devastating knee injury last summer. “I know he's been working extremely hard. As far as a timeline, I know he was in last week and continuing to rehab with our medical staff and [head athletic trainer] Eric Sugarman. I can tell you there is no one I've seen other than Adrian [Peterson] when he came back from his ACL. And this is more significant than just an ACL. But teddy is incredible with the attitude and work ethic that he's put in to get back on the field as quickly as we can.”

—He wishes he had a first-round draft pick, but wouldn’t change a thing about the trade that brought Sam Bradford a week before the 2016 season. “As you reflect back, to get a quarterback like Sam Bradford with the circumstance we were dealt with, I would do that again in a heartbeat because for everything Sam had to come in and do and everything that he faced and how he adapted, it helped our team to adapt. For a guy to come in eight days before the regular season and evolve into one of the leaders on the team, our players followed him and gave us an opportunity to compete every week to win.”

Updates: Vikings predraft visits, private workouts for 2017

While their moves in free agency garnered the headlines throughout the month of March, the Vikings have also quietly been gathering more information on the prospects they are eyeing for April's NFL draft.

That has included sending scouts and top decision-makers such as general manager Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer to college pro days and conducting private workouts with potential draft picks.

Soon, some of the top prospects on their draft board will be in town for the all-important "top-30" visits at Winter Park. Current Vikings players Trae Waynes, Laquon Treadwell, Anthony Barr, T.J. Clemmings, Anthony Harris and Moritz Bohringer were all brought in for official visits.

Here is a list of all of the team's known interactions, reported by us or others, with 2017 prospects. Note that this is far from a complete list, and we will continue to update this post as the NFL draft approaches.


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