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Wilfs Don’t Know GM’s Draft Favorite

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May 6, 2014

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Rick Spielman knows who the Vikings’ likely first round pick will be on Thursday night in the NFL Draft but no one else in the organization does yet.

At a news conference to discuss the draft this afternoon the Vikings general manager said he knows who he favors with the No. 8 selection but not even the owners know his preference yet.  The final decision on that player will be Spielman’s.

On Thursday night what communication will there be with owners Zygi and Mark Wilf? Spielman answered the Wilfs will sit next to him that evening and be told prior to the selection.  They are already aware of draft options.

Spielman accepts his leadership role and the accountability that comes with this week’s three day, seven round draft.  He also accepts responsibility for drafting controversial quarterback Christian Ponder at No. 12 during the first round of the 2011 draft.

“I take full responsibility for Christian Ponder.  Is he a bust?  Or is he not a bust?”

Spielman said he wouldn’t consider trading Ponder during the 2014 draft because the former Florida State star is along with Matt Cassel one of only two quarterbacks on the roster.  “But Christian is still a very young quarterback,” Spielman said. “He showed flashes but he just hasn’t been as consistent as you wanted yet.”

Spielman gave every indication the Vikings will draft at least one quarterback before the draft ends on Saturday.  But, of course, he offered no clues who the Vikings will choose at No. 8.  “You guys (the media) are missing some names on our spot (in mock drafts) at eight,” he said.

The Vikings could move down in the first round, trading their No.8 for multiple draft positions in the early rounds.  Spielman said he’s already received calls from teams interested in acquiring the Vikings second and fourth round picks.  “Everybody is just starting to lineup their dance partners.”

Spielman has shown a willingness not only to be accountable but aggressive in the draft.  He believes taking risks is mandatory in the process to improve a team.  Part of his preparation and for those who work with him is spending hours anticipating different draft board scenarios.  “You’ve already kind of experienced the worst thing that can happen to you on draft day and how you would react,” Spielman said.

There are plenty of variables throughout the three days including who other teams will choose and trades that will shake-up the best of plans.  It sounds like this is to Spielman’s liking.

“I love to be active on draft day.”

Worth Noting

ESPN and the NFL Network will both televise the NFL Draft Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The first round will be Thursday starting at 7 p.m. Minneapolis time. Rounds two and three are Friday beginning at 6 p.m.  Saturday’s draft starts at 11 a.m. and consists of rounds four through seven.

NFL Network will offer a record 51 live hours of draft coverage starting Thursday, according to a story yesterday on Cynopsis.com.  Programming will include reports from a minimum of 15 team “War Rooms.”

At noon today StubHub.com listed 515 tickets, starting at $103.65, being available for tonight’s 8 p.m. game between the Wild and Blackhawks at Xcel Energy Center.

The Wild, trailing 2-0 in the series, practiced this morning. The starting time for game four on Friday night at Xcel Energy Center will be8:30 p.m.

Sportsmedianews.com reported yesterday that last Friday night’s telecast of the Wild-Blackhawks game had an 11.1 household rating in the Minneapolis area, best ever in this market for the Wild on NBCSN.  Sunday’s game had a 12.8 rating here, the best ever in Minneapolis for the Wild on NBC, according to the website.

Seldom has a potential Wild off-season acquisition been more anticipated than Thomas Vanek signing with Minnesota.  The Wild need an upgrade in goal scoring but Vanek turns 31 in January.  He has three goals and two assists in six playoff games for the Canadiens this spring, the kind of production the Wild could use.  However, given a choice including payroll considerations, the Wild might be better off spending money on a quality goalie.

Kyle Gibson, the Twins starting pitcher with the best ERA, has already won more games than last year as a rookie.  Gibson, who joined the Twins on June 29 last year, was 2-4 with a 6.53 ERA in 2013.  This season he is 3-2 with a 3.50 ERA.

Last night Gibson pitched seven innings while giving up only two hits and no runs in a 10 inning 1-0 win against the Indians.  Twins starters have only allowed six earned runs in their last five games and Minnesota has won three consecutive games.

Second baseman Brian Dozier, who was hitless last night, has hit safely in 19 of his last 23 games.  Close observers have to wonder how much longer the Twins will have Dozier, who leads the team in home runs with eight, batting leadoff.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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