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Does Rick Spielman have a conference bias?

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Let’s break down his picks since becoming GM

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE: I did have to adjust the numbers slightly to move Stefon Diggs to the B1G list rather than the ACC. Maryland joined the B1G in 2014, which would have been Diggs’ final year with the Terrapins. Thanks to viking22 for the tip.


Since the Minnesota Vikings made Rick Spielman the full-time General Manager, the team has made 66 NFL Draft selections. Recently there have been some suggestions as to whether or not the master of RickSpeak has a pronounced bias towards particular college conferences and whether that will affect his tendencies in the 2019 NFL Draft, which is now six days away.

So, I’ve broken down all 66 of the picks that the Vikings have made in the Spielman era and what conferences they played their college football in. To make things a little easier, I’ve given each of the “Power 5” conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12, and SEC) their own heading, and sort of put everyone else into an “others” category. Let’s see what we have.

Atlantic Coast Conference (18)

  • 1st Round (2) - Xavier Rhodes (2013), Teddy Bridgewater (2014)
  • 2nd Round (3) - Mackensie Alexander (2016), Dalvin Cook (2017), Brian O’Neill (2018)
  • 3rd Round - None
  • 4th Round (1) - T.J. Clemmings (2015)
  • 5th Round (1) - Danny Isidora (2017)
  • 6th Round (3) - Antone Exum (2014), B.J. Dubose (2015), Bucky Hodges (2017)
  • 7th Round (8) - Audie Cole (2012), Everett Dawkins (2013), Travis Bond (2013), Jabari Price (2014), Brandon Watts (2014), Jayron Kearse (2016), Jack Tocho (2017), Stacy Coley (2017)

Big Ten Conference (9)

  • 1st Round (1) - Trae Waynes (2015)
  • 2nd Round - None
  • 3rd Round (1) - Pat Elflein (2017)
  • 4th Round (4) - Gerald Hodges (2013), Jaleel Johnson (2017), Ben Gedeon (2017), Jalyn Holmes (2018)
  • 5th Round (1) - Stefon Diggs (2015)
  • 6th Round - None
  • 7th Round (2) - Michael Mauti (2013), Ifeadi Odenigbo (2017)

Big 12 Conference (2)

  • 1st Round - None
  • 2nd Round - None
  • 3rd Round - None
  • 4th Round - None
  • 5th Round - None
  • 6th Round (1) - Tyrus Thompson (2015)
  • 7th Round (1) - Elijah Lee (2017)

Pac-12 Conference (10)

  • 1st Round (1) - Matt Kalil (2012), Anthony Barr (2014)
  • 2nd Round (1) - Eric Kendricks (2015)
  • 3rd Round (1) - Scott Crichton (2014)
  • 4th Round (1) - Rhett Ellison (2012)
  • 5th Round (2) - Jeff Locke (2013), David Yankey (2014)
  • 6th Round (2) - Jeff Baca (2013)
  • 7th Round (2) - Trevor Guyton (2012), Devante Downs (2018)

Southeastern Conference (11)

  • 1st Round (3) - Sharrif Floyd (2013), Cordarrelle Patterson (2013), Laquon Treadwell (2016)
  • 2nd Round - None
  • 3rd Round (1) - Danielle Hunter (2015)
  • 4th Round (2) - Jarius Wright (2012), Greg Childs (2012)
  • 5th Round (1) - Kentrell Brothers (2016), Daniel Carlson (2018)
  • 6th Round (2) - Blair Walsh (2012)
  • 7th Round (2) - Austin Shepherd (2015), Stephen Weatherly (2016)

Other Conferences (16)

  • 1st Round (2) - Harrison Smith (2012), Mike Hughes (2018)
  • 2nd Round - None
  • 3rd Round (2) - Josh Robinson (2012), Jerick McKinnon (2014)
  • 4th Round (1) - Willie Beavers (2016)
  • 5th Round (4) - Robert Blanton (2012), MyCole Pruitt (2015), Rodney Adams (2017), Tyler Conklin (2018)
  • 6th Round (5) - Kendall James (2014), David Morgan (2016), Moritz Böhringer (2016), Ade Aruna (2018), Colby Gossett (2018)
  • 7th Round (2) - Shamar Stephen (2014), Edmond Robinson (2015)

So. . .a few takeaways from this.

  • Rick Spielman sure does hate the Big 12, doesn’t he? I thought it was just a bit of a running joke around the comments, but there could be something to it, I guess. The Vikings, under Spielman, have drafted just two players from the Big 12, and they came in the final two rounds. Incidentally, neither of them wound up making the team. I’m not totally sure why, exactly, Spielman appears to have been so anti-Big 12, but I hope that it isn’t completely intentional. . .after all, we did take Cody Ford in the SB Nation Writers Mock, and he’d be an awfully nice fit for the Vikings. So would Dalton Risner, for that matter.
  • The only “Power 5” conference to be represented in each of Spielman’s seven drafts is the ACC. That conference also seems to be the place for the Vikings to spend seventh-round picks on, as they have nearly as many seventh-round picks from ACC schools (8) in the Spielman era than all the other conferences combined (9).
  • Spielman also seems to like players from the B1G in Round 4. He’s only drafted eight nine players from the Big Ten in seven years, and just under half of them have come in the fourth round. Given his Midwestern roots, I’m surprised that number isn’t higher.

What are your takeaways from this, folks?