As we mentioned yesterday, Minnesota Vikings' general manager Rick Spielman spoke in Indianapolis prior to the NFL Scouting Combine kicking off. Now, you got a little taste of things with a little extra RICKSPEAK~! flavor, but here we have the entire transcript of the presser from yesterday. Here's the full transcript, with a few thoughts of my own thrown in for fun.
On Mike Zimmer: "For him being a first-time head coach, for him dealing with some of the adversity that we had to deal, for his leadership, his ability to develop and improve our football, even though we're not satisfied at 7-9 but feel very strong about the foundation that he was able to lay and build off that foundation as we go forward. I'll go ahead and take your questions."
The next part is pretty much the "Adrian Peterson" portion of the press conference. There isn't a whole lot of difference from what we've been hearing recently, but it's cool to hear Spielman address it anyway.
You said you wanted Adrian Peterson back: "Adrian Peterson is under contract with us. He's a very unique football player. I'm sure Adrian is doing everything he can do off the field. He made a mistake, he admitted a mistake. I'm sure he's doing everything he can to not only make himself better as a football player but also a better person off the field and that's the type of person Adrian is. He's a suspended player right now and then we'll see where it goes from there. But there's no question, I don't think any - and I've said this before - I don't think any team in the NFL wouldn't want an Adrian Peterson-caliber running back on their football team."
Anything more an NFL an NFL team can do to vet a player: "I know we're looking at that. I know here at the Combine and Jeff Foster are implementing more programs, different types of psychological testing. I'm sure just like our team, every team has their own way to psychological test, but now in the environment that we're in, the players coming out have to realize that they're going to be scrutinized even more because of the environment that we're in right now. There will be some players that are here at the Combine that have had some issues that I know you're going to have to go through that process to feel comfortable with it."
Changes with his contract: "We don't talk about our business with any of the players - not Adrian's or anyone's contract. I just know that Adrian Peterson is a pretty unique football player. I know people, and I've talked about this a little earlier, he's a 30-year-old running back. But I also know that people said that when he was coming off his ACL and had maybe one of the best seasons that a running back can have. This is a running back that's very unique from a physical standpoint and you're talking about a guy that didn't take many hits on his body last year and played only one game. I expect that when Adrian Peterson comes back that he's going to come back with a point to prove to everybody."
Now we finally get into a little bit of draft stuff, which is where we get at least a little bit of a look into how Spielman and company think.
How long does it take for NFL teams to evaluate a draft: "We personally go on a three-year cycle. A lot of times, these players that are coming out are 20, 21 and 22-year-old kids just because of the amount of juniors that are coming in. Some guys are mature enough to handle it right away. I don't think it's so much physical. Some of it is physical, but it's the maturity level and what it takes to play in this league because it's different than just relying on your skillset at the collegiate level. Here, there are some nuances of the game that they have to learn. The speed of the game is much faster. I think some guys get it early, some guys take a couple years, but we try to look at it in a three-year window and we evaluate it from that point. We grade them every year, but we just want to continue to see the progress."
You have to weigh character even more now with all the NFL problems of late: "I'm not going to speak for other teams. Every team has their own philosophy, but I know we've always tried to do the best we can to vet out any potential issues, and then you just have to decide as an organization, you know what we're going to be dealing with. Can we handle it internally, do we have enough stuff, support staff that are expert in those areas to handle it? If we can't, then you move on. But I think that's up to each individual club how they vet through that process."
After Peterson, you more leery of that stuff: "Not just us, but I think everybody in the NFL has to be with the new policy in place, the personal conduct policy, and the environment right now."
Why are running backs not drafted much in the first round right now: "I don't know that. I know there are some pretty unique running backs coming out in this draft class. I'd be surprised if a couple of these guys may not going in the first round, but we'll see how this whole process goes through. But I know our philosophy is, and you've seen it through the playoffs, you have to have a quarterback but you also have to be able to run the ball, especially if you're going to be playing in an outdoor climate, that running backs are important, and you have to be able to play good defense. So that's where we try to put our emphasis on that. We value running backs pretty significantly."
And a little more on Adrian Peterson and his issues, particularly how they affect the team's draft prep.
Peterson's issue didn't surface until late in his career, tests don't show everything: "No, and I think in Adrian's situation, I've been around Adrian his whole career. I know what type of person he is and what he stands for. He does a lot of great things in the community, a lot of great things in charity. So I know where his heart is and what type of person he is and admitted to his mistake. But also I know it's time to move on and move forward."
Mood in Minnesota if you bring him back: "There's no question. I think our ownership has made statements, I've made statements, our head coach has made statements that we want Adrian Peterson back with the Minnesota Vikings."
Feel that among fans: "I think as you go through this this, time heals things. People judge right away, but you have to look at what type of person Adrian is and look at the whole picture and a lot of the great things he has done off the field and for charities and our organization."
Spielman then took some questions about Teddy Bridgewater.
What impressed you about Teddy Bridgewater: "I'm thankful the media did him a disservice, in my opinion, last year by judging him in on his pro day. But we spent six different occasions with Teddy last year. One thing that we try to do, our process, is that we had our draft meetings before we came down and we put all the player on a board and graded him purely off what seen off tape or what we seen live as football players. All this other stuff that will accumulate here and over the next couple months will start to add into it, but it's not going to be a situation where a guy having a sixth-round (grade) goes all the way up to the first round because he comes out here and he runs fast in his shorts. Or it's not going to be a situation where a guy has a bad pro day where all the sudden we're going to forget the 47 games that he was productive on the tape if you've watched him play the last three or four or years. You've just got to be careful. It's part of the process. All the information to gather that you use to make your decisions, but it has to come back to what he is, not only as a character but what he is as football player."
That first line? That's some A-level trolling from ol' Rick. But, you know what? He's earned the right to do it. TEDDY RULZ!
You surprised he fell that far: "To be honest with you, we've been pretty active over the last couple years in the draft so nothing really surprises you anymore. That's what's so fun and exciting about the draft and that's what so exciting for the fans because you never know what's going to happen. Last year you have a big draft party and everybody went home and we moved up in the 32nd pick and people didn't realize what we were going to do, so that makes great reality TV and that's why I think the draft is so important."
And now onto some random questions about the team.
Can Mike Zimmer sustain calling plays and be a head coach: "Yeah, you'd have to ask Mike that, but I thought he did an outstanding job for the first time handling the head coaching duties but also having a pretty significant say on what we're doing on defense. I think you saw pretty drastic improvements in our defense from what you saw the year before under Zim's system and how him and his coaching staff handled our players. We feel very strongly about the core of young players, talented young players that we have. You saw the development of those guys and what our staff was able to do with Xavier Rhodes, with Sharrif Floyd, how Harrison Smith is. Even Anthony Barr, who we think is going to be a very unique talent. Now if we can continue to add to those pieces that we have built in already, we're very excited about the direction of this team."
Your defensive needs: "I usually let you guys determine that and we'll determine it internally. I don't believe in going out and spending a huge amount of money in free agency unless it's something unique. We found Tom Johnson last year later in the UFA market and he did a great job coming in for us as a nickel pass rusher, so we'll monitor the process and then also build in what I think is going to be a pretty good group of defensive linemen in this draft as well."
Can you gauge durability in running backs: "You try to project that, guys that are hurt you sometimes have a history of staying hurt, but is it just one year or, OK, I've been playing four years and all four years he's never been able to complete a season. But I think you just look at that on an individual basis. Then a lot of it is we'll get a medical report from our doctors and he may not have had any injuries but they may tell me, ‘His knee is still shot. Don't expect him to last more than three years.' I wouldn't have known that. I think you just look at it on an individual basis and what your doctors tell you."
Carries college matter: "Adrian had a pretty good number of carries, but we weren't concerned about the number of carries he had."
Can you justify spending more than one-tenth of your cap on Adrian Peterson: "It depends on who the player is and where your cap situation is. But Adrian Peterson, like I said earlier, is a pretty unique talent."
What do you expect out of Charles Johnson in his second year: "I give credit to our pro scouts and our pro director Ryan Monnens and George Paton. We followed him during the preseason. Scott Turner had actually coached him in Chicago. Norv (Turner) had familiarity the year before when he was on their (the Browns') practice squad and there was an opportunity to go out and get him. But it was a pleasant surprise. I wish I could tell you we got a guy off their practice squad that ended up having a significant of an impact on our offense, especially a young player like that that's only been in the league for his second year and his first year playing, so we're very excited about his potential and his ability and where he's going to end up and his ability to ascend."
Well, Norv Turner did say yesterday that Johnson was "far and away" the team's best receiver, which is pretty awesome. Can't wait for him to have a fully healthy offseason, as well as more time working with Bridgewater.
See the linebacker group changing in 2015: "That's an area that we'll look at. We have a couple guys that are unrestricted free agents. We'll weigh in on that position to see. We're very excited about where Anthony Barr is, but we want to continue to build in that area."
Gerald Hodges: "Gerald is a very unique athlete. Made some plays for us, learning the scheme, but very talented football player."
And there's your transcript of Rick Spielman's press conference from the NFL Scouting Combine. Head coach Mike Zimmer is set to speak today, and we will hopefully have his transcript up either today or tomorrow.