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Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman Talk Draft, Senior Bowl Experience, Player Personnel

Ladies and Gentlemen, your new starting LT and Safety.
Ladies and Gentlemen, your new starting LT and Safety.

It's been a good couple of days for the Vikings in the 2012 draft. A relaxed and upbeat Frazier answered some questions about a range of topics regarding the Vikings, and his expectation is that Matt Kalil and Harrison Smith will be week 1 starters.

And although Smith has high expectations, they're still waiting to see whether or not Hussain Abdullah will be with the Vikings in 2012. If he isn't, it's not because the Vikings haven't offered him a contract.

"We have an offer on the table", said Frazier, "but he hasn't moved on it."

For Harrison, though, the Vikes thought they might be able to get him after they left Mobile, but because of the lack of depth in the draft, they didn't want to let on about their feelings towards him.

"You don't want to tip your hand on certain guys, and for him, it worked out perfectly. We knew there were some teams later in the first round and for sure in the second round that were looking at him, and it worked out great for us."

As for round 2 and 3, the Vikings are keeping a close eye on how things play out.

"We have some positions we need to target: linebacker, wide receiver, and maybe even taking a look at someone else in the secondary, either a corner or safety position as well," said Frazier. "We still have some areas we need to address, and those 10 picks will help us do it."

But at this point, the Vikings are leveraging whether or not to move up and use a lot of those picks in the trade, or hopefully get 10 more quality guys that can provide help to a team in full on rebuilding mode.

"We have talked about moving back up into the second round, but you really have to weigh that against the expense of (trading some of) those picks as well. We need to get a number of players, but we'll see what happens. If there's somebody that we really think will be good for us and we have to go get, we'll consider it. But at this point, we'd like to be able to keep those picks."

I was able to ask Rick Spielman about draft day trades and the trade value chart. I was wondering if the Vikings used that, or if it was just more of a guideline for them.

"We use the trade value chart more as a guide, because we also like to take team history into consideration."

In other words, they'll look at how a team has traded in the past, and use that when determining a trade as much as they use the trade value chart, which I found interesting. And yeah, the rookie wage scale has really made it much easier to make trades with top 5 picks.

But this draft really started for the Vikings in Mobile, at the Senior Bowl. The Vikings coaching staff took full advantage of their time coaching down there, and Frazier felt it really gave them an advantage in draft day preparation.

"It was immeasurable in so many ways," said the head coach. "We made some changes on our staff, and we were able to use that almost like a minicamp. And then to be able to spend time with all the players participating, and get first hand knowledge, it put us so far ahead of the curve than last year. I told our coaches that hopefully we'll look back and say that the Senior Bowl was the period that jump started our 2012 season."

It really helped in their evaluation of players as well. I actually asked him a question without peeing myself. Let's go verbatim for this one, kids:

Q: Going down there, did it change any pre-conceived notions of any players? Maybe you weren't too keen on 'player A', but after seeing him you thought you needed to take a closer look at him?

"It did, and it also had the reverse effect. There were some players we had rated pretty high from our scouts that we said mmm, I don't think so. So it worked both ways, and the Senior Bowl was a big plus for us."

From there, the conversation moved to the current roster, and the status of some veteran players. When asked about linebacker, Frazier said:

Well, we're short there as far as depth at the position. With Jasper at the 'Mike", we're not sure about E.J's situation. We were able to get Erin (Henderson) re-signed, of course Chad (Greenway) being there, but after that Larry Dean is the one guy I think that's coming back with some experience. So we're thin at LB. We need a guy that can not only play linebacker, but help us at special teams.

Right now, the Vikings haven't committed one way or the other on the return of E.J. Henderson, but it seems that they want Brinkley to step up, and it sounds like Henderson really isn't in their plans.

"We'll see what happens (with E.J. Henderson). We're hoping that Jasper can get it done for us, but we'll see what happens with E.J."

As for any more trades today, Spielman didn't rule it out, but my hunch is that they are content to sit where they are and play the 'Best Player Available' strategy.

Frazier Q&A