Rick Spielman, the Vikings vice president of player personnel, and his staff are busy making their final preparations before leaving for the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis early next week.

Spielman said the organization will send about 60 representatives to the combine. The contingent includes coaches, scouts, executives, medical personnel and two officials who handle psychological testing.

“Basically everybody has a role and a responsibility,” Spielman said. “All the people that go have a function there. The position coaches, the scouts, the medical staff, the people that are doing the psychological testing. So it is a pretty big project as far organization and making sure everyone is on the same page and when everyone gets down there knowing what we have to get done and what we have to get answered from all those aspects.”

 In addition to the physical and medical testing, Spielman said the team will interview 60 prospects. They get 15 minutes with each prospect during formal interviews but they also can talk to players informally throughout the week.
“Our coaches, scouts will try to interview every player down there and get in front of them at some point while they are down at the combine because you can grab them during the day if they are not scheduled for night interviews,” he said. “I know our psychological testing people will get a hold of them. They are all scheduled to see all those kids at the combine. Our coaches didn’t go to the Senior Bowl but our scouts and myself got down to the Senior Bowl and interviewed every player down at the Senior Bowl this year so we have … we interviewed all these players at the East-West game so we have a pretty good jump as far as interviewing these guys. That’s one of the things that’s very, very important to us is getting in front of these kids and getting to know these kids.”
As far as the psychological testing, Spielman said the team actually added a second person in that capacity this year. He called those tests a “tool” in their evaluation process.
“I think sometimes the success of a player may not always have to do with just his physical ability but his mental makeup,” Spielman said. “You can have a guy with great physical ability but if he doesn’t have the heart or the want-to or the passion, then sometimes those guys aren’t successful. Hopefully that kind of stuff will be identified through this psychological testing.
“I don’t want to call them a soothsayer, but there are questions in there that are specific to positions. So the mental makeup of a corner should be different than the mental makeup of a quarterback or an offensive lineman compared to a linebacker. There are questions in there about how combative they are, how competitive they are. To me, if you’re a corner and you get beat, you better not be thinking about it for three of four more plays. For some guys maybe you can pull that out in the psychological testing, that he’s hard on himself or gets down on himself. Some guys it’s like water off a duck’s back. They just keep going. Those are some of the things you try and pull up. How does he handle pressure situations? Just a bunch of different areas that you try and pick.”
Spielman did not hide his displeasure over the fact that prospects often decline to take part in the physical testing at the combine, whether it’s running the 40 or quarterbacks not wanting to throw.
“When someone from the West Coast tells you that he’s not going to run because of the time change to me he’s hiding that he can’t run,” he said. “I just remember Adrian Peterson didn’t have any hesitation going down there and doing everything that he had to do. Then you get into some of these quarterbacks [saying] ‘Well, they’re not going to throw at the combine because they’re not familiar with the receivers.’ But sometimes you can’t always blame the kid. Sometimes they’re taking advice from their counsel and their agents. You look at that too. There are agents out there who I won’t mention who have a history of not having their players do stuff at the combine so you have to take that into consideration too. Which I don’t understand because they spend all this money getting them prepared for the combine and then not doing anything at the combine.”
Spielman and his staff are still in the process of breaking down the entire prospect pool, but he thinks it will be a deep draft. He mentioned offensive line, cornerbacks and defensive line specifically.
“I think it’s going to be a really strong draft,” he said. “There are a lot of talented juniors that came out in this draft and it’s going to add a lot of depth in this draft. To me, I feel it’s one of the stronger drafts than it’s been in a while. … It bodes well for us. To pick 30th [overall in first round], and still be able to get quality players is a huge plus for us."