Spielman: Research not same as interest

So as you probably know by now, I whiffed Tuesday on my attempt to sneak middle linebacker Manti Te'o into the mythical second round of our 2013 #bloggermock draft.

My plan was to select players at other positions with the No. 23 and No. 25 overall picks, based on the educated assumption that the Vikings are the team most interested in taking Te'o in the first round. Under that scenario, Te'o would be available at or near the top of the second round, where the Vikings could use some of their nine remaining picks to move up and draft him there if they were so inclined.

Alas, AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley blocked the move by drafting Te'o for the Baltimore Ravens with the final pick of the first round. (Revenge will be mine, JH!)

There are widespread projections about Te'o's aptitude for top-level play in the NFL, and some believe there isn't much difference between him and the next tier of middle linebackers, many of whom could be available late in the second round and into the third.

With that said, I remain convinced that Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman has significant interest and might well draft Te'o in one of the spots where I passed. Spielman didn't directly address Te'o during a news conference Tuesday, but he did attempt to claim that significant effort on researching a player does not indicate interest.

The Vikings spoke with Te'o at the NFL scouting combine and hosted him on a visit to their practice facility. Spielman attended his Pro Day at Notre Dame and took him to dinner as well.

Spielman said there are "a lot" of players whom the Vikings have visited with "three or four times" this spring. He added:

"So just because you guys read out in the paper that, 'Hey they must be very interested in this guy because they've visited with him or went to dinner with him or went to do this or that,' that has nothing to do with whether we're going to take a guy or not. It's more honing in and making a decision on if this guy is the right fit or not the right fit."

It's not physically possible to put that much work into every top-level prospect. So at one point this offseason, Spielman was highly motivated to find out everything he could about Te'o. The guess is that he liked what he saw and heard.