Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Vikings' NFL draft 'big board' taking shape

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion under Vikings, NFL draft Updated: February 10, 2014 - 7:40 AM

The Vikings officially get into draft mode on Monday as they start to assemble their big board for the NFL Draft in May.

Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said on Saturday the team had a scheduled 7:30 a.m. meeting consisting of front office executives, pro scouts and college scouts with the NFL Combine nine days away. Spielman said the meeting gives head coach Mike Zimmer a chance to give a tutorial of his scheme and what type of players that can fit Zimmer's style.

­­The more we can get on the same page and see what he’s looking for, the better job we’ll be able to do to get those types of players,” Spielman said. “It’s not that hard to identify the traits, but you have to know what traits you’re looking for.”

The big board certainly won’t remain the same over the next three months. Zimmer said he doesn’t believe in judging a player just in the film room. With opportunities to watch prospects in person at the NFL Combine and Pro Days, it’ll give Zimmer a good chance to self-evaluate players before the draft.

“Until we can get around him, talk football and we can see how he interacts with the other players, see how they throw the ball, see how they move, see how they think and react, you can’t really tell anything on those [on tape],” Zimmer said.

Zimmer will have to rely on scouts however to identify the right personnel for his scheme. When Zimmer wasn’t interviewing coaches or meeting prospects at the Senior Bowl, he spent a considerable amount of time getting to know the Vikings’ scouts to establish a relationship and see where he fits in as the new head coach.

“I’ve been more impressed with this group of guys, this staff, the management, front office, pro scouts, college scouts just how professional they are, how opinionated they are,” Zimmer said. “Sometimes when you’re opinionated you can be swayed in a certain way. These guys, ‘this is the certain way I see it, this is what I’d do.’ They don’t take offense if someone doesn’t see it the same way. It is the best group I’ve been around.”

Only 86 days until Day 1 of the NFL Draft.

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