NFL teams average eight draft picks per year – seven rounds plus what equals an additional round with 32 compensatory picks handed out to teams that are deemed to have lost more in the previous year's free agency than they gained. The Vikings have had only 10 draft picks over the last two years combined.
They surrendered a first-round pick and two third-round picks to the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008 to acquire Jared Allen. This year, they were without picks in the fourth round (Sage Rosenfels) and sixth round (Kelly Holcomb) because of trades for quarterbacks.
At the conclusion of this year's draft, Spielman was already looking forward to a bumper crop in 2010.
"What you would like to do is keep all your picks and hopefully accumulate picks because when you're in the draft and have a specific player that you like, you have to have the ammunition or firepower to go up and get him," Spielman said.
As it turned out, the Vikings were fortunate that tackle Phil Loadholt, a player most figured to be drafted early in the second round, was still available with the 54th pick. If the Vikings entered the draft with a full complement of picks, they may have surrendered a late-round pick to get Loadholt. As it turned out, they did trade a seventh-round pick back to the Washington Redskins to move up in the fifth round to get linebacker Jasper Brinkley.
They also received offers to move up elsewhere and surrender a pick or two for next year, but Spielman wanted to save those picks.
"The currency is the draft picks, and we had numerous offers (to move up for late-round picks next year). That was a situation where I felt it was very important to keep the integrity of our draft set from here on forth because of where we're at from the roster standpoint," he said. "… We had plenty of opportunity to dip into next year's and I totally would not do that. Next year we have a full draft class and potentially more as you go through potentially compensatory picks."
By not re-signing center Matt Birk, safety Darren Sharper, and only adding CB Karl Paymah and WR Glenn Holt in 2009's free agency to date, the Vikings figure to be in position to have one or two compensatory picks awarded to them next year. As it stands now, they are scheduled to have one pick in each of the seven rounds.
While Spielman values his draft picks, he felt the team had a couple of unique situations with the opportunities to trade for Jared Allen last year and Sage Rosenfels this year.
"Unless it's something that can't be helped or something that is part of winning next year, we will definitely keep all our draft picks and hopefully accumulate a couple more," he said.
MORE FAVRE NOTES
What's a Vikings notebook these days without at least a few mentions of Brett Favre? So, here goes:
"Sage and T-Jack, they're going to compete for the starting job and one of them is going to be a better quarterback because of that. We're going to continue to do what we need to do, and that's hopefully repeat as NFC North champions and get deep into the playoffs," Allen said. "I think it's more – I don't want to say distracting or hoopla – but if you get a chance to play with Brett Favre, who wouldn't take it? He's a phenomenal quarterback. The dude's done everything from start to finish. I hope one day I can have a résumé even half as good as his. It still doesn't change what we're doing in Minnesota. We're pushing forward. Sage and T-Jack are going to be our guys. One of those guys is going to be the starter and we're going to roll with that."
"… The excitement is there. It's Brett Favre. It's the mystique of Brett Favre. … As a professional, the things you could learn from him are insurmountable, the things he could teach the young quarterbacks that we have. He can help you win games; there's no way around that."
"All I know is that whoever's back there, I'm going to be blocking my butt off for them."