I received some cordial flak -- as well as some not so cordial flak -- in re my posting the other day about former Indianapolis Colts President Bill Polian's comments concerning USC left tackle Matt Kalil while on the ESPN Sportscenter special "On the Clock." The reason I deemed it interesting enough to post about is because of Polian's connection to Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier.
Polian was responsible for hiring Tony Dungy as head coach of the Colts in 2002. In 2005, Dungy hired Leslie Frazier as his defensive backs coach and, as well, anointed him as Special Assistant to the Head Coach. Dungy and Frazier have remained tight ever since and Frazier has mentioned on numerous occasions that he not only patterns his coaching style after his former boss and current friend, but that he also tries to emulate Dungy's football philosophies in general.
Now, just because Rick Spielman has been granted final say on personnel decisions his authority should not be construed as Leslie Frazier having no say in those matters. No head coach is going to be shoved into a corner or locked out of the war room on draft day.
With that in mind, once again Bill Polian took to the airwaves in yet another episode of "On the Clock" (segment two of a 86-part series to be aired between now and when Mel Kiper accompanies his hair to a raised stage in Radio City Music Hall on the evening of April 26) tonight on the deuce (ESPN2). In discussing the Vikings No. 3 pick, Polian mentioned the possibility of several teams trading up so as to get Alabama RB Trent Richardson (in an earlier post today, I commented about Tampa Bay seemingly having incentive to do so). Polian went on to opine that if the Vikings remain at No. 3, he believes the Vikings will -- as is now suddenly the popular sentiment -- select LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. But unlike other media sources who just seem to be running with Adam Schefter's tweets, Polian injected a unique perspective as to why he believes this to be the case.
In reflecting on his preparation for the many drafts he spearheaded for the Colts over the years, Polian referenced how Dungy would perpetually pound the table for more play- makers on the defensive side of the ball. Dungy, having risen through the ranks as a defensive innovator, believed that whether it be a ferocious pass-rushing defensive end or a ball-hawking defensive back, the rarity in finding either always justifies taking one if and when you are presented the opportunity to do so. Polian believes that Frazier, having been a pupil as well as a colleague of Dungy's all those years shares a similar mindset.
Morris Claiborne is believed to have outstanding ball skills to go along with "plus" cover ability. Frazier personally accompanied Spielman to Mo-Borne's pro day, praising his efforts thereat (at 1:35 here). There have been some unconfirmed reports that he and Spielman are at odds in who they ought to select with the third overall -- Frazier wanting Claiborne, Spielman wanting Kalil. That very well might be the case, but it is unlikely to have anything to do with what Spielman witnessed at LSU's Pro Day since Spielman exuberantly lauded Claiborne for putting on a performance like he had never seen before.
Thus, it should not come as a surprise to the media, or anyone else for that matter, that the Vikings might prefer Claiborne over Kalil. The tea leaves were always there to be read... the real surprise is that it has taken the media this long to read them.