Feb 20, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman speaks during a press conference during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Rick Spielman and Ted Thompson: A Comparison


It’s widely been speculated that Rick Spielman is on the hot seat in this year’s upcoming draft. If he fails to deliver with a viable quarterback, he’s likely out at the Vikings general manager.

Meanwhile, Ted Thompson is preparing to add some young talent that could help push his team over the hump and to the second Super Bowl of his tenure.

There’s hardly a football mind out there who doesn’t sing the praises of Ted Thompson and his “best player available” approach. He’s seen as one of the best general managers in the league despite putting almost all his eggs into the draft basket and ignoring free agency and trades.

These two men are polar opposites in terms of their job security and their frachises’ goals for 2014.

But are their results in the draft really that different? In an article up on the MMQB, Greg Bedard provided an interesting statistic: since taking over as Packer’s GM in 2005, approximately 9 percent of the players Thompson has drafted have gone on to make the Pro Bowl (note: the article says 8 percent but I counted eight Pro Bowlers in Thompson’s tenure, not seven). Spielman’s Pro Bowl percentage is 13.

The two men have drafted an equal number of Pro Bowlers by my count, at eight apiece. The interesting thing is that it’s taken Spielman 26 less picks to get to eight.

Since taking over as manager of the Vikings draft room in 2006 according to Bedard, Spielman picks Chad Greenway (’06), Adrian Peterson (’07), Sidney Rice (’07), Percy Harvin (’09), Kyle Rudolph (’11), Matt Kalil (’12), Blair Walsh (’12) and Cordarrelle Patterson (’13) have all made the trip to Hawaii.

Note: I say according to Bedard because he says Spielman was in charge on draft day starting in 2006. While Brad Childress had final say over the roster at that point, if Bedard said Spielman was in charge of the draft that means it’s fair to hold him accountable for the team’s failures and successes on draft night starting then.

Ted Thompson’s Pro Bowlers are Aaron Rodgers (’05), Nick Collins (’05), Greg Jennings (’06), AJ Hawk (’06), Josh Sitton (’08), Clay Matthews (’09), BJ Raji (’09) and Eddie Lacy (’13).

Of those eight Pro Bowlers, each general manager has managed to retain six on their current roster. Spielman let Rice walk after 2009 and traded Percy Harvin last year for a first, third, and seventh round pick. Collins was forced to retire due to injuries for the Packers, and they let Jennings sign with the Vikings in free agency last year.

One could make the argument that Spielman deserves to have one more Pro Bowler in this discussion as well when it comes to the draft. While not a Spielman draft pick, Speilman did use a first round pick and two third round picks to acquire Jared Allen from the Kansas City Chiefs.

The two men have used the draft to obtain an equal number of All-Pro players as well if Allen is factored into the equation.

Peterson, Allen, Walsh, Patterson, and John Sullivan (’08) have made the All-Pro team for Rick Spielman. Rodgers, Collins, Matthews, Sitton and Lacy have made the All-Pro team for Thompson.

With Collins’ retirement and Allen’s departure in free agency, both men have an equal number of All-Pro picks remaining on their roster.

While measuring draft success by Pro Bowl and All-Pro appearances is by no means a perfect system (plenty of quality picks were excluded from both sides), but if Spielman is this close to Thompson in results in fewer draft picks, why are the two men is such opposite league standing?

The answer, of course, is painfully obvious: Aaron Rodgers.

Thompson scooped up the falling Rodgers in the 2005 draft and his team has only strayed from contention for one year (2008) since then. Rodgers, as the team’s franchise quarterback, has covered up the team’s roster flaws and carried the Packers to victory year in and year out.

No Pro Bowlers or All Pros have emerged from Thompson’s drafts in 2010, 2011 or 2012, but despite average drafts the Packers contended each of those seasons. They were even crowned league champions in 2010.

Spielman has done a remarkable job in the draft, averaging almost a Pro Bowler per year. That’s remarkable consistency with the draft being as unpredictable as it is.

But the one thing he has not done is find a man who can start under center. And if he fails to do that soon he’ll be busy making copies of his resume to send to other teams.

In reality, the only major difference between Spielman and Thompson is one draft pick back in 2005.

The problem for Spielman is, that pick made all the difference in the world.

What do you think Vikings fans? Is it fair that Spielman is on the hot seat right now, or does he need to get the quarterback pick right to earn your respect? Sound off in the comments below or talk to me on Twitter @Goatman102!

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  • Daniel Laxen

    While the numbers appear to be similar you can’t say that all of those guys for the Vikings were named starters to the Pro Bowl. Looking at the who’s who that you mention there is 1 distinct difference. The Packers players are multiple Pro Bowl selections, while the Vikings were added after the fact…AP is the only player for the Vikings that is truly and ALL PRO!…Walsh and Patterson were special teams players…My contention is that AP and Rodgers being equal which set of the remaining players would you take? Not to mention what team is a perennial playoff/Super Bowl contender…Sorry, but Spielman is on his last legs and had it not been for AP’s 2000 yard season he would be with his buddy Mayock this draft instead of conducting the Vikings…

    • Tyler Erhardt

      Solid points about the PB player comparisons but again, is it RS or the head coach responsible for exploiting talent? One could argue that all of Rick’s picks were all pro potential but the coaches didn’t do their job.

      • David Mallow

        Its more on the coaching than Spielman. The last crew was horrible in every aspect… wheen the new staff gets this team turned around and theystart dominating their division people will be like “I knew Spielman was not the problem….” people are always quick to judge, and are usually wrong

        • Todd Robinson

          How will Rick look when this news staff gets our special teamers and back-ups performing like perennial starters. It is Rick’s responsibility to evaluate players based on the recommendations of the scouts, and the coaches. He has to work with the coaches to insure a players talents/skills meet the needs for the scheme that will be employed. Yes, Rick has the final say, but don’t think he doesn’t lean heavily on coaches for advice. In short, it’s not one man who makes these decisions. Staff has to be able to work in concert to find the best talent, and to get the absolute most out of the players acquired.
          As far as RS losing his job…….I doubt it.

        • Daniel Laxen

          Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the Vikings have the best 2nd half record in the NFC North? That horrible coaching staff got a less than mediocre 2012 team to the Playoffs, by limiting how bad Ponder could damage them with his horrendous decision making. Last time I checked the players still make the plays, not the coaching staff. Last season when the shell of a defense experienced a plethora of injuries; the depth that the Vikings lack from substandard drafts shone through like light streaming in from an open window. They still have NO real option at QB and should the new regime fail, then who will you pin it on,Troy Aikman and Jack Buck? Get your head out of Rick Spielman’s anus and breath the clean air of realism sometime soon…

    • David Mallow

      Spielman isnt even CLOSE to losing his job.. he has done a phenominal job adding talent to this team, hes missed on 1 pick and everybody says hes a terrible GM… its laughable… not only has he drafted well since having all the power, he has put together his very first staff, and a really good one at that… Zimmer, Turner, Edwards, and Gray are really good at what they do and will make this team a contender this season and I dont care who the QB is, they know how to get the best out of any player… Spielman is a great GM and I can almost guaantee that even if AP didnt get 2000 yds he would not have been fired nor will he if he misses again this year on a QB… he is good at what he does and the Wilfs know this…. If he gets fired this team will suffer from it…

  • Tyler Erhardt

    I quit reading after the first sentence. The notion that the Wilfs are as dumb as Mr. Gotz is ludicrous. The Wilfs, along with anyone who has half a brain knows there are always circumstances surrounding success and failure. It’s the ability to identify the causes of failures and successes and remove or emphasize them. What was the biggest offseason move? The coaching staff. Was it because he didn’t like Frazier? I doubt it. It was most likely because LF and coaching staff weren’t getting the most out of the players. Not to mention, not playing the right players. The second biggest move; getting rid of the players that were no longer producing up to their contract or the potential of the players behind them or in the draft. To suggest RS is responsible for player performance is just plain dumb. I would use a more polite word but it’s crap articles like this that are written as pure attention getting garbage. RS is not on the hot seat. What the author is suggesting is, because of one arguable failure (Ponder – which I don’t agree with) all of his successes are forgotten. Lets forget about his brilliant moves and harp on his one choice of a Qb who had/has very good potential. Lets also forget the state of the team as a whole during the same time frame. We were lucky to be winning and if you noticed, we weren’t dominate. Again, RS is not on the hot seat and the Wilfs would be fools to let him go if he misses on another QB this year. QBs are a crap shoot except in cases like Luck. Before Luck, I can’t recall there ever being a sure solid First round QB. Unless you listen to all the post draft experts, then they can find all of them.

  • Tyler Erhardt

    Show me one article where the Wilfs have indicated RS is fighting for his job this year and I’ll take back my criticism of the article. Show me where they are so unhappy with Ponder that they are holding RS’s feet to the fire.

    • TichoB

      You are absolutely right. Wilf doesn’t seem to be a knee jerk unintelligent guy. A smart person would recognize how good a job Speilman has done and that getting that franchise QB is always a high stakes gamble.

  • Red Kelly

    I’ll be surprised if Harrison Smith doesn’t tilt that balance further. I won’t be surprised if Toby Gerhart factors in this year, now that he’s getting a chance to start. And Sullivan should have been a pro-bowler already.

  • Hinterliggettkid

    Ponder had a playoff season and then injuries and a very suspect Offensive approach to the game under Frazier and Musgrave took over……. Rudolph was hurt…. and for whatever reason Patterson was held out….. Wright was hardly ever thrown the football in the open spaces and Peterson was not 100 %…. all that considered despite scoring over 28 points a game for the early part of the season, they went 5-10-1 and lost 4 games by less than 4 and a tie….. turn a few games around and they tie or win the Division ….RS is in no way on the hot seat

  • Gordon Guffey

    This is all crazy talk ~ Spielman had no more control over the draft than I did ~ He had to get Chilly’s OK before making any pick ~ I’m not saying Rick didn’t have any say but as Fran Foley found out what happens when you try to stand up to Chilly ~ It even happened when Favre first come to the Vikings ~ Once Chilly got his new contract he started coming down on him for changing the plays at the LOS and they got into it when Chilly once again tried to force TJ on the field in the Cards game ~

    That being said Rick faced the same kind of BS in Frazier first year when he had Rob. B. the cap guy who held 1/3 of the vote as did Frazier and Rick ~ It wasn’t until after the Ponder draft that included the trade for McNabb who Rick didn’t want ~ But what is he to do when he only has 1/3 of the vote ~

    But guess what happened in 2012 ~ Rick was made GM ~ Who lost their voting power ~ You guessed it ~ Frazier and Rob ~ So how did Rick pull off that draft with Ponder being one of the worse picks ever by many Vikings fans and then make one of the worse trades ever for McNabb ~ ??? Then Rick is named GM ~ ???? How did he pull that off ~

    Also this is Ricks first hand picked coaching staff ~ Maybe we will get to see this roster finally hit its stride ~ If Zimmer and Norv are really the fixers they and most everyone else seem to think they are who knows whats really hidden on this roster ~ And lets not forget it make that a little while for players to adjust to the new systems being installed starting in this early mid camp starting Monday ~

    I for one believe Rick has done what he could when others had the power to out vote him and Rob has always seem to side with the HC ~ So what other reason with the Wilf’s have to yank Frazier and Rob power away ???? No one seems to be able to say ~ But somehow Rick always gets the blame ~ I for one dont get it ~