Every human being on the planet has something they look forward to once a year. For Santa and his elves, it's Christmas. For egg laying rabbits, it's Easter.
For Linguistic Ninja Rick Spielman, it's the NFL Draft. It's where Spielman is most in his element, much like suburban husbands when they enter Menard's, or The Home Depot. It's where football fortunes are made or lost (the draft, not Menard's. Come on man, keep up), and it all hinges on one thing:
The Browns being the Browns. Sad!
The art of language. What to say without really saying it, and getting other teams to act on what you said but didn't really mean. And with a team that had high expectations but stumbled and struggled to 8-8, what Spielman and the Vikings do in this upcoming draft might make it the most important draft since he became full time GM.
Earlier today, Spielman met with the local press to discuss the upcoming draft, and he wrapped himself in Rickspeak much like St. Nick wraps presents for kids.
What is Rickspeak?
Rickspeak isn't so much a language unto itself as much as it's a Way Of Life.* Much like the major philosophies of the world teach us to basically not be a walking penis**, Rickspeak does the same...only while telling you to, in fact, be a penis while not being one.***
*It's just a post on a sports blog. Literally nothing more.
**Don't be a dick, man.
***Seriously, be a nice person.
See, it's subterfuge at it's best,* and if you know what you're looking for,** you can infer the true meaning of what Rickspeak is telling you.***
*Literally dick jokes.
**There's nothing to look for.
***There is not true meaning. It's 100% made up.
As always, what Rick literally said is in block quotes, and what he really meant will be interpreted by me immediately below.*
*Seriously, the 'what he actually said' part is 100% fake and made up. My lawyer said I couldn't stress that enough or she would no longer represent me.
Rick started the presser with an opening statement, and then took questions.
What Rick Said: First off, just like to thank the staff, the coaches, and especially the scouts for all their effort and energy they put into this every year. I'd like to recognize Jamaal Stephenson for his leadership as he kind of guides us through the process, all the way back when we had our first meetings in December, through our February meetings and as we all come together as one group and finalize our draft board. Feel very strong about this draft.
I think the depth of this draft class, especially in some of the areas we'll be looking at are very significant, I think through the mid rounds, and for us to have an extra third, an extra fourth this year, is going to pay dividends for us. Other thing I would like to point out is just working and seeing Coach [Pat] Shurmur at the end of the season with a new offensive coaches coming in, sitting down and with Coach Zimmer and Coach Shurmur and identifying the traits we're looking for on the offensive side of the ball and what's going to fit his scheme.
I know we are very in tune to what we are looking for on the defensive side, and I think we feel very strongly that we can identify those players in this draft that are going to fit the specific skill set that we are going to need to perform in Coach Shurmur's offense. I think it will be a big weekend for us. I know we're going to add a lot of quality players and there will be a lot of new faces going into this next season. So I'll open it up for questions.
What Rick Meant: If this draft class sucks, it's Jamaal's fault. From December up until about 14 seconds ago, he did everything. I can't tell you how lucky we are that this is a deep draft class because we don't have a first round pick. We need a fair amount of help on both sides of the ball, and if Jamaal doesn't ace this baby I'm gonna need a new gig by this time next year.
Q: Is it more of a challenge, less of a challenge, when you don't have a first round pick?
What Rick Said: I wouldn't say it's more or less. I think you approach every round, and we approach the board the same way every year. So we just put as much emphasis into the first round as we do into the fourth and fifth round, and I know probably over the weekend and finishing up yesterday, we really honed in on the sixth, seventh rounders.
I know I have to do a better job of college free agency. We will be much more aggressive in that area, something we haven't been in the past. I know with how we planned our roster going into 2017 and losing a lot of our backup-type depth players, that players from last year's draft class and this year's draft class coming in are going to have to play a significant role on this roster.
What Rick Meant: It's totes easier trying to find a starter at 48 as opposed to 14. Come on man, where's the challenge in the top half of the first round? As a matter of fact, I'm just gonna trade all my draft picks, minus my sixth and seventh round picks, for lockers and office equipment for the new team headquarters and just assemble a draft class of seriously bad ass undrafted free agents. Gonna be epic, Edward R Murrow.
Q: The quarterback position, how does that look to you overall?
What Rick Said: We looked at the quarterbacks. We didn't spend a lot of time on first couple up there. We're going to treat the quarterback position just like any other position as we go down through the draft, and if there's, you know, we spent time on a lot of those guys. I know Kevin Stefanski, who is now coaching the quarterbacks and Pat Shurmur spent a lot of time down at Senior Bowl. We spent a lot of time with them at the Combine. So I'm not going to say, we're not going to take one or we're going to take one. I think we will just see how the draft unfolds and who is there and who is not there.
What Rick Meant: About as impressive as a 1977 Pinto. Pick one and it's gonna blow up in your face, and leave you scarred for life. If you guys still think I was a moron for pulling the trigger on the Sam Bradford trade, think about this: if we didn't make that trade, come draft night we're going after a terrible QB with a top 10 pick, and afterwards, we'd all end up knifing each other in the chatrooms debating Teddy versus Terrible New Guy. So be glad I made that trade, and we're debating about two good and hopefully healthy quarterbacks in the near future. At least we're not the Bears QB depth chart. Woof.
Q: When you talk about needing to fill in some of the depth and what-have-you, does that affect the draft from a standpoint that maybe you might be looking for some more ready-to-play players than down the road guys?
What Rick Said: We've always had the philosophy if I of just following our board. Where we are picking in the second round, we've already pounded it and we're going to do it again this afternoon, the potential scenarios that are going to be looking at us. Whether that's -- whatever position, we'll be prepared. We also talked about potentially any of those guys that may be developed in the first round, for some reason falling to us in the second round. And is that -- may not be a need but is that talent too great to pass up, because he's going to eventually be on a field and would hopefully be able to come on a field early his rookie year, if you're picking that high. So we are not going to box ourselves into saying, well, we have this need, so we have to take this position in this round. I think as you go down through the draft, you have to understand the depth of each position, so if you know, potentially you can get a position in the fourth round that may equate to that same value in a third round, then you may wait and take that position in the fourth round; where if you look at your draft board and you see the depth after the first seven or eight players, is not there, and they are equal in ability, then you are going to address a need that way.
So you just have to really understand where the depth of each position is in this draft and where you can hold and where you know you have to probably take that position, if it's on your draft board at that time and you have that evaluation on him.
What Rick Meant: We will pick nothing but offensive linemen in this draft. Maybe a running back.
Q: You've often in the past grabbed guys in the first round if you like them. Will you look into that again, or will you hold onto some of those picks for the depth?
What Rick Said: I think just looking at where this is, for one, it's a pretty significant jump and pretty costly to go from where we are picking in the second round all the way back into the first. Two, I think there are a lot of quality players through the second, third and fourth rounds that can be significant players for us next year coming in. But you never know if something falls out of the sky that's just too good or you make that happen. But I would say as I'm standing here today, that's an unlikely scenario at this point.
What Rick Meant: I'M GONNA BE DOING SO MUCH TRADING IT'LL FEEL LIKE THE FLOOR OF THE NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE BABY WOOOOOO!!! I might trade up. I might trade down. But regardless of who I pick, and where I pick him, half of you will hate the pick immediately and bitch about how much better your mock draft was.
Q: Would you like to get a contract extension done with Sam Bradford or are there still answers you're looking for from Teddy Bridgewater before you commit?
What Rick Said: One, I'm never going to talk about contracts and who we are extending and not extending into the future. We always keep that in-house. I know I sat with Rob Brzezinski looking at those scenarios and we already have some plans in place because I know we have some significant young guys coming up here in the future. So that process we've already started planning for but I won't get into specifics of who or what.
What Rick Meant: OH HEY LOOK AT THE TIME DRAFT IS ALMOST HERE GOTTA GO BYE SEE YA NICE TALKIN' TO YOU FINE FOLKS