The Vikings are leaving no stone unturned, per usual, with their quest to gain as much information on the NFL's draft prospects.
Despite a new psychological test (the Player Assessment Tool) that was taken by prospects invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, and the remaining Wonderlic test, the Vikings continue to have players take their own psychological test.
"Just like anything else, it's kind of an indicator," Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said.
"I can look at all the (defensive backs), for example, or safeties – which guys ended up being good starters in the league, and what did their profiles look like? It can kind of paint a picture for you on guys that have this type of test results usually end up resulting in being good players in the league."
The Vikings use tests administered by the league and their own tests to supplement the information their scouts gather on prospects during and after the college season from talking to coaches, other university personnel and sometimes even friends or relatives of the prospect. They also try to have players at the Senior Bowl and other college all-star games take the test, and can follow up with questions about a prospect on campus during their pro days. By April – the draft starts April 25 this year – they hope to have as complete a picture on a prospect as possible.
In addition to having prospects take the tests, the Vikings also have their psychologists help shape questions toward individuals and evaluate their answers afterward.
"The psychologists will get the raw data. They'll write their opinions on guys. I try to match it up with what our scouts have done. If there is a difference in opinion, usually that player's going to get interviewed more than one time. There will be a lot more digging," Spielman said. "I'll tell the scout to go back to your source or we'll start digging around, because there's some discrepancy here. We have the chemical dependency psychologist that will give his indication of if this guy is definitely an issue or something we can manage in-house. I have to rely on those guys and their areas of expertise because I can't make those determinations. I can make the final decision, but I can't tell you this guy is chemical-dependent. I have to rely on (psychologists) – just like the doctors – to make final decisions."
While many focus on the 40 times and other physical drills at the combine, for NFL teams the medical and psychological exams performed there are often the most important. The film from the college games are more important than the timed speed, but oftentimes the medical information NFL teams receive from colleges is either incomplete or inconsistent. Having MRIs scheduled and the ability to request additional ones or order a recheck in early April is invaluable to teams making a decision.
"I think a lot of people focus on the 40-yard dashes or the jumps or the physical testing. Some people focus on the interviews," Packers general manager Ted Thompson said. "At the end of the day, all of us, all 32 teams, all the 32 people that are in my position at other places are going to have to, when they make that decision on the player they bring in, it's, can that player help them win games? Does he have this inside thing that allows him to go beyond what he maybe normally would do? There's an ‘it' factor.
"… I don't know how to quantify that, and you can't find it. You don't really know it until you see it, and usually it's already too late, if you know what I'm saying. It's hard to do that just from going to the school, watching tape, talking to the coaches, seeing the player practice, writing a report that night. It's hard to find that ‘it' thing. But you know it when you see it, when you have him on your team you know those guys with the ‘it.'"
Spielman said last week that he hadn't yet seen the new Player Assessment Tool so he didn't have a strong opinion of it. He also doesn't have a track record established on how accurately it can predict certain characteristics for players once they enter the league.
He knows what he is trying to get out of the test his team administers separately.
"There are a lot of different areas – coachability, social maturity, self-esteem, mental quickness. There's a lot of different areas that we really hone in and try to look at. And each position is weighed differently," Spielman said. "So the psychological profile of a corner is probably going to be different than the psychological profile of a quarterback, or a center. … Each position, as they go through the process, kind of comes out tailored to their position specifics that we're looking for."
Giants general manager Jerry Reese said those in charge of the scouting combine called several general managers to find out what they are looking for with the new Player Assessment Tool and what they felt were the shortcoming of the Wonderlic.
For now, it appears Spielman will rely more heavily on the test the Vikings administer separately.
"I like things very (predictable)," he said. "We'll see and we'll make comparisons to what we do currently."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Vikings rely on their own psychological test
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