Q&A: With Scouting Department's Jeff Robinson

Vikings coordinator of pro personnel Jeff Robinson has been busy scouting colleges but is ready to go full tilt now with pro scouting for the rest of the season.

Jeff Robinson was promoted to coordinator of pro personal last year after 11 seasons with the Vikings. Robinson took over some of the duties previously performed by Paul Wiggin, the director of pro personnel, who cut back on his time commitment with the Vikings.

Robinson spent the previous five years as the team's pro personnel scout, where he assisted in league-wide evaluation of players and advance scouting of teams. He worked two seasons as a public relations assistant after interning in that department for a year. He also spent three years as an operations assistant. Since Robinson joined the personnel department, the Vikings made the playoffs the last five years.

Robinson was a three-year starter at cornerback for Northwestern University and a team captain as a senior. He played part of the 1989 season with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League and spent two years as an assistant coach at North High School in Minneapolis.

Q: Have you been focusing on your college or NFL scouting duties so far?

A: Because (coordinator of pro scouting) Paul Wiggin and I rotate the pro games, I try to get in my college games early in the pro season and get that all done before Thanksgiving, which is basically when the college season winds up. Then I'll do more traveling as far as pro games after that.

Q: When you scout the colleges, how closely do you watch the underclassmen who you think might come out or do you just focus on the seniors?

A: Just the seniors. Until they declare it's our policy not to even look at them or talk about them. It kind of puts you behind the 8-ball if they do declare, but you are better off just not fooling with them because the emphasis is to encourage them to stay in school.

Q: Where have you been focusing your scouting efforts?

A: Mostly the Big 12 and the Big Ten.

Q: Which teams around the NFL have impressed you?

A: Obviously St. Louis is impressive, Oakland has been impressive, Green Bay has been very impressive. Those would be the three that jump out.

Q: Is it just the fact St. Louis has turned the defense around from last season?

A: No, I think they were impressive going into last year. Everybody talked about how poor their defense was, but at the same time their record still said they were winning a lot of games. I think they tweaked a few things to enhance their defense, but if you can recall the year they won the Super Bowl (in 2000) they were very good on defense that year. I think it's more just a continuation what they had going the year they won the Super Bowl. They have gone on from there.

Q: What has impressed you about the Raiders?

A: I think more so than anything is they are so physical on both sides of the ball. They have had to overcome a lot of injuries, but they play smart. I don't know if Rich Gannon has thrown any interceptions to this point in the year (he has two), and they are very good in the secondary and up front on defense. They do a lot of things as far as using their speed to work to their advantage.

Q: In a season like this one for the Vikings, when roster moves are being made on a semi-regular basis, do you change how you look at things as far as who might be available, or do things pretty much stay the same?

A: That doesn't change because you are still looking for the same intangible factors and you are still looking for the same athleticism. So the only thing that changes is the fact that this year, more so than in the past, you are dealing with a lot more younger players on our roster.

Q: Have you seen a shift in the power of the NFC Central this season?

A: No. I think it's really too early to tell at this point. Right now, you would have to say that Green Bay, just based upon their overall record, is probably the cream. I think people are surprised by what Chicago has done, but if you go back a year everybody said they were going to be a playoff team then and they were strong on defense last year. I don't think there have been any really big surprises. Maybe the biggest surprise is the fact Detroit hasn't won a game yet. That might be the biggest surprise up to this point. But I think the rest of it, everybody knew there was a lot of parity in the NFC Central.

Q: It seems like it only takes a few moves for a team to turn things around in the NFL these days. Is that the way you see things?

A: Yeah, because of the fact that you are never as good as your record looks or you're never as bad as your record looks. With Detroit being 0-9 right now, a few receivers or defensive backs that are healthy and things could be totally different for them. When you are talking about not playing with Herman Moore and Germane Crowell and Bryant Westbrook, that can change the picture of your team in a hurry.

Q: Brett Favre appears to finally be healthy in Green Bay. Does he look better to you?

A: He's healthier than he has been the last two years, and I think you can see in his style of play that he's back to wheeling and dealing. That and the fact their defense is playing very well has done tremendous things for them. VU

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