For a lot of Vikings fans – casual fans and dyed in the wool alike – the names of the seven players the Vikings selected in the final four rounds of the draft aren’t necessarily household names. Nobody in the media room at Winter Park was able to identify where on a map Newberry College is located, so even the seasoned football reporters had to do some digging to get information on some of the Vikings’ Day 3 draft picks.
But General Manager Rick Spielman and his staff not only knew who these players were, they knew what roles they envision them having with the organization.
Spielman broke down those expectations and hopes when he addressed the local media following the end of the draft early Saturday evening. Here are some of the Spielman Sez moments as he explained the value of the players fans are just now getting acquainted with.
T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh: ”Everybody is questioning the injury part. We found out about (the foot injury) at the Combine. We did a lot of calling on him, double-checking and triple-checking today. We feel that it was an old injury that was there. It was discovered at the Combine. He did not miss any practices during the year at Pitt. He did not miss any practices down at the Senior Bowl. He worked out at the Combine. We had our offensive line coaches at Pitt and he worked out there at Pitt as well. We’re very excited that we were able to get a guy of that caliber, of that talent, that we were able to get him in the fourth round. He has the athletic skillset to play both sides, and I know our coaches, offensive coaches and offensive line coaches were very excited to get an opportunity to work with this kid just because of the tremendous upside that he has.”
MyCole Pruitt, TE, Southern Illinois: “He’s a very athletic H-back type/fullback. They put him out on the slot and he played sometimes on the line of scrimmage as a tight end. I know when we talked about him, he ran very fast at the Combine and he showed up at the (Senior Bowl) all-star game. He has a lot of the traits that we’re looking for, especially in Norv Turner’s offense, being able to do multiple things. He has very good hands, he’s aggressive as a blocker, and Norv, as we sat there and talked about him through the draft meetings, felt that we can do a lot of different things with him and play him at a lot of different positions.”
Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland: “He’s a very gifted athlete with the ball in his hands. He was a guy that when we got there at that point, he can do so many things – he’s played outside, he’s played in the slot, he’s done some return stuff, probably had a little bit of a year that was down for him and his standards. With the multiple things that he can do, any time we see an athlete and ability to develop these guys, and we felt that he’d fit right in that mold.”
Tyrus Thompson, OT, Oklahoma: “(Vikings offensive line assistant) Hank Fraley went down and worked out all of the Oklahoma kids. He was a left tackle at Oklahoma and we’re projecting him to potentially be a swing tackle or also move inside to guard. He’s a guy that has great length, great size, and he’s a very mature kid – he’s married with two children. We could project him inside as a guard as well. When Hank came back from the visit, we went through our meetings. He’s extremely sharp and felt that he could play multiple positions for us.”
B.J. Dubose, DE, Louisville: “He was another guy that’s a multi-position player. He can play end, when you watch him inside, he can rush a passer as an inside guy and has a 3-technique. We had him here on a top-30 visit. He pulled a hamstring at the Combine, I believe on a second 40. He was unable to work out the rest of that so that’s why we brought him in to sit down and get to know him a little bit. He has good tape all around and he’s another guy that has a lot of position flexibility that can play base end or slide inside as an inside nickel rusher.”
Austin Shepherd, OT, Alabama: “He played right tackle at Alabama. He can slide inside and we’ll probably start him out at guard once our coaches get their hands on him. He played some guard at the Senior Bowl as well. He’s a very tough, physical and aggressive kid. He comes from a big-time program, he’s a kid that’s well-coached and we felt like we got great value with where he was at in the seventh round.”
Edmond Robinson, LB, Newberry: “He’s another very talented athlete that’s a little raw. (Vikings linebackers coach) Adam Zimmer worked him out after the South Carolina pro day. He went over to Newberry to work this kid out. He’s played outside and you don’t see him a lot in the film at a stack position, but he has great length, he has great speed, range, and he’s going to be another guy that has a lot of athletic tools to work with, but it’s going to be a little bit of a learning curve. But you can’t teach his length, you can’t teach his speed and you can’t teach his athletic ability. So we’ll look at him as a guy that can maybe play multiple positions at the linebacker spot, maybe do some pass-rush off the edge, but we’re very excited from his standpoint. From the athletic skill set, he has a lot of tools to work with. We’ll definitely look at him and see how quickly he comes along.”
Spielman Sez: Vikings GM explains Day 3 picks
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