Spielman is good at spiels.

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Vikings.com Insider
August 23, 2006

Vikings.com: How does your department break down to cover college football? Do you follow Arena League Football, Canadian League and NFL Europe? How does that work?

Spielman: Basically we have two departments, a Pro Personnel Department and a College Department. Our college department consists of Scott Studwell as the Director. We have seven scouts and divide up the country amongst those scouts to go out and cover all the potential draft picks for the upcoming year. We will do that all fall and then we'll come together one time in December to have an initial meeting. Then we get into our All-Star games and the combine. We will have initial draft meetings in February then finalize our draft meetings as we get into April. So those guys are pretty much working from training camp all the way through the draft on the college thing. The one thing about college scouting you have to make sure that you're covering all your bases. One of the reasons is there are a lot of talented players in the smaller schools and for whatever reason they couldn't get into a big school because of grades or other issues. It is the scout's responsibility to make sure that we identify all the players that are potential draft players at all levels of college football.

We have four guys in the pro department and they have numerous responsibilities. They are responsible for writing-up all 32 teams in the NFL. So every player that's on a roster by the end of the year will have a written report on them. We're going to be very active in the Canadian League and the Arena League because there are a lot of different avenues where you can find players. There have been some success stories as far as players coming out of those other avenues to make NFL rosters and contribute. Just like the college, it has to be organized and everybody has x-amount of responsibilities but again if you're not out there turning over every stone to find players, then you're not doing your job.

Vikings.com: Tarvaris Jackson has played well in practice and in two preseason games. Can you talk about why he's having success at this level?

Spielman: I think when he came out of college it was never about ability. When I was working at ESPN and breaking him down he had the arm strength. He has enough athletic ability. The biggest question was his ability to adjust to the NFL coming from a smaller college. He has very good work ethic and he's improving each week. He still has a long way to go but he's shown signs that he could potentially be a pretty good quarterback in this league.

Vikins.com: What intrigued you about S Dwight Smith?

Spielman: I think it's not just Dwight Smith, but any player that comes across the wire that we think can potentially help our ball-club win ball-games we have to be aggressive to try to go get those guys. We will be very aggressive going through this preseason as far as the 75-man and 53-man cut-down dates. We are in preparation right now comparing those players that will eventually get cut to the current players we have on the roster. If there are players out there that we think will upgrade our ball-club and help us win ball-games than definitely we have to do that.

Vikings.com: What's the number one skill set that an NFL scout needs?

Spielman: I think the number one skill set is work ethic. There is not one set way to become an NFL scout. It's not, ‘you have to have a football background.' There are some guys that don't have a football background and become very good NFL scouts. There are no short cuts on the way to become a good NFL scout. You have to go and evaluate players and build up a library in your head on what happened to these players. A lot of times you don't know what happens to players until three years down the road. I remember my first year out it took me nearly three hours to write my one report and it was because I know what I saw on film but who do I compare him to? I had no comparisons. Or, ‘where is this guy going to go in the draft?' Well, I don't know, I've never seen anyone go in the draft. It's a matter of just the work ethic and grinding out tape. People think it's a glamorous job but it's a job where your scouts are out on the road, you're in a hotel by yourself, you're traveling from city to city, you're driving, you're eating fast food, you're writing reports at night and then you're up the next morning doing the same thing at the next school. It all comes down to just watching players and then watching how they progress through their careers so the next time you go into for example a small school and you say, ‘hey this guy reminds me of so and so, boy he ended up making it and being a pretty good player.' Or you're in a major school and I thought this guy was going to be a good player but for whatever reason he failed, why did he fail? What did I see? It's a learning process as you go and you just can't learn it in one year. I don't think you can ever stop learning in this job. The more and more players you see and the more and more scenarios you see the more educated you become when you have to make decisions.

Vikings.com: Can you evaluate the 2006 Draft class?

Spielman: No, it's too early to evaluate now. It's funny when you're in the media and people put a grade on you right after the draft. You have an A, B or C grade. I think it's ridiculous because these guys haven't even lined up or played yet. It's all speculation. I think the proper way to evaluate a draft class is two or three years down the road and how many guys are playing and contributing to your ball-club and how many guys are out on the street. To me that's when you put an evaluation and a grade on what your draft class is.

Vikings.com: How did your time in the media help you for this role with the Vikings?

Spielman: Being out of it for a year and getting in the media side was a very educational process. Sometimes when you're with a team, you're so focused on your team and what's going on. It was great to kind of sit back and see how other teams operate and issues that other teams go through and how they deal with it. The other aspect of it was just learning what the media is about and how hard and difficult of a job that is. People just think you go on TV and talk but there is a lot of preparation work into that, there is a lot of preparation into writing articles for dotcom. It just gave me a whole new sense of appreciation for the media side.