Current GM Rick Spielman was hired by the Vikings as Vice President of Player personnel in 2006, on the heels of the Fran Foley debacle. Spielman, who had been a studio analyst with ESPN and the Dolphins GM prior to that, came to Minnesota with a spotty track record in Miami.
Why? His signature move as Dolphins GM was trading a second round pick for quarterback A.J. Feely, who bombed on South Beach. That set the wheels in motion for Spielman to leave the Dolphins, and he landed in Minnesota a little over a year later as one of the corners of the 'Triangle of Authority'.
He's been partly responsible for some big time players drafted, to include Adrian Peterson in 2007, Percy Harvin in 2009, and five first round picks in the last two years. And those trades/picks in 2012 and 2013, which came after he had full control of the roster, have won him and the team almost universal praise. In two years, he's added five guys that are going to be top line starters in the NFL, and no matter how you slice it, that's impressive. According to this story from the Boston Globe, Spielman has one of the better track records as a GM in the NFL:
The Bengals and Vikings surprisingly appear at the top of most categories. The Bengals are tied for third in the league with 25 draft picks on the roster, are tied for third with 15 starters, T-3 with six first-rounders, T-3 with seven Pro Bowlers, and T-4 with two undrafted starters, including Pro Bowl linebacker Vontaze Burfict. The Vikings are T-3 with 25 draft picks, T-9 with five first-round picks, and second with four starters from the fifth-seventh rounds.
He's also drafted more Pro Bowlers than Ted Thompson, GM for the arch rival Packers.
I included the Bengals info because of the hiring of Mike Zimmer, naturally, which leads me to my second point--although the Vikings probably hired Zimmer because of his defensive resume, his ability to scout and mine for talent was probably a key selling point as well. He's also swung some major trades, including the acquisition of Jared Allen just prior to draft day in 2008, and somehow getting a first round pick for disgruntled WR Percy Harvin last year. He also re-acquired Randy Moss in 2010 for what seemed like a paltry price at the time (third round pick), and I was as happiest I had been in a long time. Yet, that blew up when Moss couldn't get along with Brad Childress, or caterers, and he was cut by the former head coach...without anyone else knowing about it until after the fact...one month later.
Good times, good times.
In free agency, he's been able to help land some big time players, to include Steve Hutchinson, Chester Taylor, Greg Jennings, Captain Munnerlyn, and Linval Joseph. When you look at that body of work, it's hard not to be impressed with what Spielman has done in Minnesota, and bringing up that Feely trade some ten years after the fact seems almost unfair.
Yet, it isn't unfair. Rumors are swirling that Spielman might be on the hot seat, for one over riding reason: quarterback. From his Feely trade to drafting of Christian Ponder in 2011, his track record with quarterbacks is bad. Soooooooo bad. Christian Ponder was a big swing and miss in 2011, and here we are, three seasons later, looking at drafting another quarterback of the future. Drafting a franchise quarterback is the most important yet at the same time the riskiest pick a GM or a coach can make. If it works out, you've got job security for a decade.
Miss, and you're picking another QB within five years and your seat starts getting warm. That's one of the reasons I linked the Ted Thompson comparison. Thompson is largely considered a draft guru in the NFL because of one player, Aaron Rodgers. The rest of his drafts have been okay, but nothing spectacular. But he hit a home run with Rodgers, and it's given him job security going on 10 years now.
All in all, Spielman has done a good job as GM, with the exception of one position.
So what's your Spielman Approval Rating?