For the "SPIELMAN OL-FAILURE" crowd... And a tip of the hat to Wludford and Brad Henke

Hey my fellow DN'ers!

Brad and Wludford had written wonderful articles in the past 10 days articulating how we as Vikings fans are getting to watch something truly special unfold before our eyes... with a young, talent laden roster, led by a kick-ass head coach, (that has demonstrated an incredible ability to adapt to lost personnel, and "roll with the punches" and keep fighting) poised to treat us to a competitive, and fun to watch team for the next several years, and that we should "enjoy the ride"... which I fully agree with!!

That being said, there is a lingering and negative "narrative" around here that still seeks to mitigate the joy that should be prevalent in Vikings land these days, and while I don't mean to take issue with my fellow Vikings fans, ... well... I kinda NEED to take issue with some of my fellow Vikings fans on one particular issue, lol, so allow me to shoot a few holes in the "Spielman OL Fail" narrative, and then hit me up with your comments thereafter, as I'd love to hear from those that see where I'm coming from, and I'm equally happy to listen to thoughtful counterpoints to my position, as I am fully cognizant of the fact that I might be seeing what I want to see!

That being said, here goes...

To start with, I realize that it's human nature to have "confirmation bias", and if someone has decided a long time ago that they don't want to like Rick Spielman, they are going to seek to find validation for their position, and I also totally get it that anyone with eyesight even marginally better than Stevie Wonder can easily spot that the O-Line of the Vikings is a glaring weakness on the team, and so the basis for assigning blame to Slick Rick is readily understandable.

From my perspective though, I almost feel like I'm watching parishioners shuffle back into the Sistine Chapel the day after Michelangelo finished doing his thing in there, and 2/3rds of the people are looking up at the wonderful masterpiece that now graces the ceiling, and the other 1/3rd of the people are staring down at the floor and grumbling over the mess/stains/paint droplets that are going to need to be scraped off and cleaned up now.

Guilty of hyperbole as I may be with that extreme analogy, I hope that the point still resonates... I view the defense that has been constructed over the past several drafts as the "masterpiece" that has been created, and the current state of our neglected O-Line is the "mess on the floor" that has to be addressed at some point, now that the masterpiece has been completed.

The general theme of the "narrative" that pops up repeatedly in the comments on virtually every thread on here, is that "Rick did not invest enough premium picks on O-Line in the past several drafts"...

I feel like there are 3 flaws in this narrative, and they are as follows:
1) Those that lament "premium picks" not being spent on O-line in the past few years, conveniently never seem to mention who Rick would have NOT DRAFTED if we had used said pick on offensive linemen instead!

If we had used more of our multiple 1st round picks the past several years on O-Line, does that mean that we would not have Anthony Barr right now? Or Xavier Rhodes, or Harrison Smith? If we had used more 2nd round picks on O-Line, does that mean we would not have Eric Kendricks right now? Or if we had used more 3rd round picks on O-Line, then do we have to give back Danielle Hunter? I don't want to trade ANY of those guys for an offensive linemen... do you?
(I mean, I could probably be talked into offering up Sharrif Floyd to the Browns for Joe Thomas, but even then, only because he has had injury issues, otherwise I don't know if that's something I would be willing to consider doing.)

2) Successful teams have demonstrated that you can cobble together an adequate Offensive Line without investing "premium picks" year after year.

...for my own edification, I went through the draft classes from 2012 (when Spielman took full control of draft decisions) through the 2015 draft, to see what the top teams were doing with their "premium picks" (1st, 2nd, 3d rounders... basically the top 100 picks in the draft) to see how many "premium picks" were being spent on O-Line by teams like New England, Green Bay, Seattle and Denver, (the pre-season Superbowl favorites between 2012 and 2015) and I was actually pretty shocked at the utter VOID of premium picks spent on O-Line by these teams!
New England, for example, despite being the NFL's poster child for being a model of consistent success, had invested precisely ZERO of their 13 premium picks in that time frame on O-Line.

In 2012 (The year we picked Kalil with the #4 overall pick) New England had 4 premium picks, (21, 25, 48 and 90) which they used on DE, LB, DB, DE.
In 2013 they again had 4 premium picks, (52, 59, 83 and 91) which they used on LB, WR, DB, DB.
In 2014 they only had 2 premium picks, (29 and 62) which they used on DT and QB.
In 2015 they had 3 premium picks, (32, 64, 97) which they used on DT, SS and DE.

Without the long and laborious recap like I did with New England, suffice to say that Green Bay, despite also having 12 premium picks in that same window, (2012--28, 51, 62... 2013--26 and 61... 2014--21, 53, 85 and 98... 2015--30, 62 and 94) also used ZERO of their premium picks on O-Line.

Seattle had 9 premium picks in those drafts, (2012--15, 47, and 75... 2013--62 and 87... 2014--45 and 64... 2015--63 and 69) and they, like the Vikings used one on an O-Lineman. (although they used pick #64 as opposed to us using pick #4)

All three of these teams won Superbowls in that window despite not spending much or any draft capital on O-Line, so I can understand Darth Spielman being of the mindset that he can focus on defense with his premium picks, and cobble together a serviceable offensive line with later round picks and free agents.
(and for further reference...the defending Superbowl champion Denver Broncos trotted out a starting O-Line in the Superbowl that was comprised of one "premium pick" (Michael Schofield, pick #95 in 2014) the rest of the line consisted of a 6th round Center, (Matt Paradis), along with 2 Free Agents, (Vasquez and Mathis) and a guy they signed off the street, (Ryan Harris, {born in Minneapolis, woot!} originally drafted by the Broncos back in 2007 and had bounced around to PHI/KC/HOU over the previous few years before Den picked him back up.

3) The proliferation of college offenses that do not translate well to the NFL have made it increasingly challenging to identify "can't miss" prospects on the O-Line.

This is easily demonstrable, and although I had intended to go through the draft classes from 2012-2015 again to point out the full list of names and draft positions of all the disappointments at O-Line, I think that everyone on this site follows football enough to know that Kalil has A LOT of company, on the list of O-Line disappointments from the last several draft classes... (guys like Eric Fisher, Luke Joeckel and Greg Robinson immediately come to mind.)

Anyways, that's my take... I personally want to give Spielman a few high-fives and a bro-hug for drafting Barr, Rhodes, Smith, Kendricks, Hunter, and yet many on here seem to want to kick him in the teeth instead for not drafting O-Line with those picks!

Now that the defensive masterpiece is complete, I'm expecting he will turn his focus more to the O-Line now, but jeez... cut the guy some slack for being intent on building the defense first, as it's the reason we are a legitimate threat to be a Superbowl contender for the foreseeable future, ya?

Also... Rick gets a LOT of respect from me for being the first GM to have the stones to hire the Zim Tzu (Copyright Ted Glover)... and I say "stones" because evidently many other teams were afraid to hire Zim, and I also give major kudos to Rick for having the stones to pull the trigger on the Bradford trade.

I try to empathize with what it must have meant to guys like, AP, Newman, Robison and especially Greenway, that are likely (or definitively) on their last chance to win a Superbowl, and watching that disintegrate along with Teddy's knee... only to have hope restored to see Trader Rick give up one of his prized first round picks to put the dream back on track. much as a loyal soldier as Greenway already was, imagine how much more he must want to run through a wall for this organization after seeing that they are willing to make the kind of bold moves that enabled him to have a legitimate chance to go out on top.

So yeah... this post is reaching "Arif level" length, so I'll cut if off here!

Skol Vikings!

This FanPost was created by a registered user of The Daily Norseman, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the staff of the site. However, since this is a community, that view is no less important.