Q&A: With Scott Studwell

How much of an influence does the Combine play in the Vikings' draft-day decisions and what do NFL scouts really take away from it? How do the Vikings prioritize different aspects of a player's makeup, and how much does his level of college competition factor into their analysis? We ask those questions and more of the Vikings' director of college scouting in part two of our interview.

Q: Can a player's performance at the NFL Combine really change your scouting department's analysis?

A: What we really use the Combine for, at least the way it was established, is for the medical information we get, which can affect a star player's status. If there are huge major medical concerns, that would affect their status more than how fast they ran or how well they interviewed or how high they jumped.

Q: If not the Combine, what is your scouting department's most important analysis?

A: The most important thing we do is the film evaluation. The most important thing we look for, the most important thing is what kind of people they are. Everyone looks at it differently, but our priorities in order are production, personality and measureables.

Q: The NFL Draft is the most celebrated, hyped and most highly covered draft of any of the professional sports leagues. But with so much information available that covers the draft, do fans think they know as much as you and your scouts?

A: It's good for people to be able to follow the draft and want to play the draft game. It's probably no different than an armchair quarterback thinking he can step on the field and play. But during the draft, when the time comes to step up and pick a player, it's easy for people to second guess. There is so much more to it than reading something in a publication and all the sudden he becomes your favorite player.

Q: Last year George O'Leary was the Vikings' defensive coordinator. This year Ted Cottrell is. Does that coordinator change affect your draft?

A: It's basically the same system. They'll tweak it some hopefully to fit our personnel, and maybe Ted has a different philosophy with primary coverages, but good football players will adapt to any system. You're better off having the players adapt to the system versus vice versa.

Q: When looking at film of a Division I-AA or Div. II or III player, how much do you look at the level of his opponents versus his raw ability?

A: It's certainly a factor. They have to be above average to a dominating player at that level of competition. We like to see them take their game up to the I-AA level and I-A level to showcase their abilities. But a perfect example is Jimmy Kleinsasser, who came through a Division II program and went to the Senior Bowl and he was a very efficient player at that level. They are fewer and farther between, but they play good football at the Division II level and there still are a lot of good athletes at the D-II level who ended up there for a variety of reasons. There are always some diamonds in the rough at that level.

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