EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Trader Rick Spielman, who entered this draft with 16 draft-day trades in five years as Minnesota Vikings general manager, sat patiently for as long as he could before swinging a deal with Cincinnati to go after free-falling Florida State running back Dalvin Cook with the ninth pick of the second round.
"We started making calls (Thursday night) once we knew he was going to slide to the second day," said Spielman, who traded one of his two fourth-round picks (128th overall) to the Bengals to move up seven spots to take Cook 41st overall. "As he kept coming down the board, we felt we had to get aggressive because he wasn't going to last, and was too talented of a player not to take a swing on. We got great value where we got him."
The Vikings went into the draft without a first-round pick because of last year's Sam Bradford trade. They needed a right guard and, of course, another running back after releasing 32-year-old Adrian Peterson and allowing Matt Asiata to leave via free agency. The Vikings signed former Raider Latavius Murray in free agency, but wanted another playmaker to share the load and take over as the lead back in a few years.
With his backfield set, Spielman turned his attention to the offensive line in the third round. He traded a fifth-round pick to the Jets to move from 79th overall to 70th. He passed on Indiana guard Dan Feeney, considered a possibility for the Vikings in the second round, to take Ohio State center Pat Elflein. Elflein won the Rimington Award as the nation's best center last season, but played more games at guard in his career as a Buckeye.
Elflein will either join the wide-open competition at right guard, where his top competition would be Jeremiah Sirles, or stay at center as versatile veteran Joe Berger moves to right guard.
Later in the third round, Spielman traded down from the 86th pick, getting Kansas City's compensatory third-round pick (104th) and picks in the fourth and seventh rounds. Then he traded out of the third round, getting a fourth-rounder (109) and a seventh-rounder from San Francisco.
The Cook pick also improved the offensive line, which was injury-riddled and awful last season as the Vikings finished last in the league in average yards rushing per game (75.3) and per carry (3.17). He's a three-down back who compiled 4,464 yards rushing, a 6.5-yard average and 46 touchdowns in three years at Florida State.
He was a consensus first-round pick who tumbled mainly because of concerns about the group of friends he associates with off the field in South Florida. Cook reportedly assured teams that he won't be running with the questionable crowd now that he's in the NFL.
The Vikings vetted Cook thoroughly during the draft process. Friday, just to be sure, Spielman said he spoke with Cook for another 45 minutes on the phone before the second round began.
"I think this kid has really, really matured over the last couple of years, and we have no concerns at all about him being a Minnesota Viking," Spielman said.
Asked how the Vikings could be convinced that Cook will leave all those bad influences behind him as he heads for Minnesota, Spielman said, "He told me, and I believed him. I think he has probably woken up a little bit about how important football is, and I truly believe that he is on a mission coming up here and is going to be a great football player for us. And I do believe, honestly, that we do trust him and that he will do all the right things as well."