Last-minute change? Speak now or forever hold your peace

This is tweak time for each NFL team's top talent evaluator.

This is when college statistics and workout performances give way to what a prospect being considered for selection in the 2011 NFL Draft from Thursday through Saturday has going on between the earholes.

Draft boards are, for all intents and purposes, set. All 32 clubs pretty much know who they are targeting with their picks. Now, it's up to the man with the final say to take one last look at the collective input of scouts and others in the organization involved in the assessment process, and see if, based on all of the research at his disposal, any last-minute adjustments are needed. Are there any obvious ties that need to be broken, and if so, how will it be done?

Rick Spielman, general manager of the Minnesota Vikings, spent his Easter weekend doing exactly that.

"I've heard all the opinions, I've given my opinion on these players, and now if we have two guys (with the same rating) at (a particular) position, which way are we going to go?" Spielman told me recently during an interview on Sirius NFL Radio. "Now I'm looking at the medical. How clean are they medically? How clean is their character? I'm reading through all of their psychological profiles. Is this guy a for-sure thing from a psychological standpoint? Does this guy have some risk to him?

"This guy may be ready to step in and play now, but the guy right next to him might not be as good now, but three years from now he could be better."

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These are the types of decisions that usually go a long way toward making or breaking each team. And they're even more complicated this year because of all of the uncertainties generated by the labor dispute.

Some of what teams do during the draft, according to Spielman, will be influenced by the very real possibility that coaches won't be allowed to work with draft picks for weeks, if not months. Other decisions will be driven by the fact that, with no free agency and trading during the lockout, the draft is the only means of acquiring new talent for the foreseeable future.

"Maybe if we had free agency and the trade period, maybe you'd fill two of four (areas of need) and you'd be down to two specific guys you're looking at," Spielman said. "But I think it's going to be a lot more wide open because now you're going to be looking at all four of those guys."

Follow Vic Carucci on Twitter @viccarucci.

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