Vikings

The History of Trader Rick: Evaluating Rick Spielman's History of Draft Trades

Photo Credit: Brian Spurlock (USA Today Sports)

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RANKING THE VIKINGS NEEDS
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LUKE INMAN’S MOCK DRAFTS
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In 2014 the Vikings owners Mark and Zygi Wilf made a decision that would alter the team’s future for years to come by firing Leslie Frazier after a brutal three year stretch. The move, in turn, would set off a plethora of options for their next head coach. While names like Dan Quinn, Todd Bowles and Greg Roman were shuffled through the rolodex, the Wilfs felt Mike Zimmer’s old school demeanor and defensive culture was exactly what the organization needed for both the short and long term. The team was 32nd in league defense just a few months prior and the Vikings franchise has always embodied and signified hard nosed defense dating all the way back to the “Purple People Eaters” during their run of success in the late 60s and 70s (four Super Bowl trips). 

The Wilfs did not replace their general manager, however, giving Rick Spielman and his scouting staff another chance after some said he was to blame for the drafting of Christian Ponder, setting the franchise back another three full years. 

Since connecting with Zimmer in 2014, only the Cleveland Browns have had more draft picks than the Vikings. Unlike the rebuilding Browns, who gained extra picks through the compensatory system and trading their own players away, the Vikings have accumulated extra selections every year thanks to maneuvering down and stockpiling. In fact, despite starting most years with the normal seven picks, Spielman has earned the nickname “Trader Rick” by some thanks to his frequent trade-backs.

Let’s take a look at how Spielman has wheeled and dealed over the course of the Zimmer Era and what his draft process has netted the Vikings. Click on any of the years below to see the break down of trade ups, trade backs and the end result.

2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019

 

2014 DRAFT

PREVIOUS OFFSEASON: Traded Percy Harvin to Seahawks for:
2013 first round pick (No. 25, CB Xavier Rhodes)
2013 seventh-round pick (No. 214, OL Travis Bond)
2014 third-round pick (No. 96)

VIKINGS RESULT: Drafted RB Jerick McKinnon (No. 96)

FIRST ROUND: Traded eighth overall pick to Cleveland Browns for:
Ninth overall pick
2014 fifth-round pick

VIKINGS RESULT: Drafted LB Anthony Barr (No. 9), G David Yankey (No. 145)
BROWNS RESULT: Drafted CB Justin Gilbert

FIRST ROUND: Traded up to 32nd overall pick with Seattle Seahawks for:
2014 second-round pick (No. 40)
2014 fourth-round pick (No. 108)

VIKINGS RESULT: Drafted QB Teddy Bridgewater (No. 32)
SEAHAWKS RESULT: Traded No. 40 to Lions, who drafted Kyle Van Noy; Drafted DE Cassius Marsh (No. 108)


FIFTH ROUND: Traded 148th pick to Carolina Panthers for:
2014 fifth-round pick (No. 168)
2014 seventh-round pick (No. 225)

VIKINGS RESULT: Traded fifth round pick to Atlanta Falcons (below); Drafted CB Jabari Price (No. 225)
PANTHERS RESULT: Drafted CB Bene Benwikere (No. 148)


FIFTH ROUND: Traded 168th pick to Atlanta Falcons for:
2014 sixth-round pick (No. 182)
2014 seventh-round pick (No. 220)

VIKINGS RESULT: Drafted DB Antone Exum (No. 182); Drafted DT Shamar Stephen (No. 220)
FALCONS RESULT: Falcons draft LB Marquis Spruill (No. 168)


TOTAL DRAFT WEEKEND TRADES: 4
TRADE DOWNS: 3
TRADE UPS: 1


FINAL HAUL
(*acquired pick via trade)

1) Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA (#9)*

1) Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville (#32)*

3) Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State (#72)

3) Jerick McKinnon, RB, Georgia Southern (#96)*

5) David Yankey, OG, Stanford (#145)*

6) Antone Exum, S, Virginia Tech (#182)*

6) Kendall James, CB, Maine (#184)

7) Shamar Stephen, DT, UConn (#220)*

7) Brandon Watts, LB, Georgia Tech (#223) 

7) Jabari Price, CB, UNC (#225)*


OUTCOME: Not including the 2013 Percy Harvin trade that netted the Vikings a 2014 third-round pick (Jerick McKinnon), in total they made four trades, including three trade downs and one move up. 

It’s crazy to think this draft was already six years ago, the first of the Spielman and Zimmer era. 

In what would prove to be a loaded class with names like Odell Beckham Jr., C.J. Mosley, Aaron Donald and Zach Martin all on the board when the Vikings were on the clock, it’s hard to begrudge the pick of Anthony Barr, who was a raw ball of clay in which Zimmer took extra pride in molding as his first pick ever. When you add in the fact they stole an extra fifth-round pick from the Browns in the process, who took big bust Justin Gilbert, it’s a much easier pill to swallow. 

If you’re a draft nut like me then you know seeing the “TRADE” ticker on the bottom of your flat screen is one of the most exciting moments of draft weekend. When Spielman traded back into the first round at pick 32 you just knew it was going to be for a quarterback. The only question was which one: Derek Carr or Teddy Bridgewater? Looking back, there probably was no wrong answer, although it’s easy to say now Carr has had the more rounded career, in large part because he’s been able to stay healthy where Bridgewater has not. There was a time not long ago when everyone — from the Vikings brass to the fan base — was ready to crown Teddy as their franchise signal caller after showing much optimism and growth heading into his third year before a horrific knee injury. 

If I were to go back and do it all over I’m still not sure I wouldn’t take a stab at Scott Crichton. Young and ultra productive Crichton showed great promise and left early as a junior but never developed as he was soon leapfrogged by guys like Danielle Hunter. 

McKinnon was a fan favorite during his time in purple, and despite Adrian Peterson being the focal point of the running game, McKinnon proved his worth of a Day 2 pick in the passing game and a change of pace threat in the backfield. Despite his small school label and lack of one true position (he played defensive back, quarterback and running back at Georgia Southern) McKinnon lived up to the pre-draft hype after one of the best combine performances you’ll ever see.

Exum and Price showed promise early on but never stuck, while Stephen is still on the roster and starting at defensive tackle to this day.

2015 DRAFT

THIRD ROUND: Traded the 76th pick to the Kansas City Chiefs for:
2015 third-round pick (No. 80)
2015 sixth-round pick (No. 193)

VIKINGS RESULT: Traded third-round pick to Detroit Lions (below); Drafted DL B.J. DuBose (No. 193)
CHIEFS RESULT: Drafted WR Chris Conley


THIRD ROUND: Traded the 80th pick to the Detroit Lions for:
2015 third-round pick (No. 88)
2015 fifth-round pick (No. 143)

VIKINGS RESULT: Drafted DE Danielle Hunter (No. 88); Drafted TE MyCole Pruitt (No. 143)
LIONS RESULT: Drafted CB Alex Carter (No. 80)


FIFTH ROUND (acquired via QB Matt Cassel trade): Traded 137th pick to Atlanta Falcons for:
2015 fifth-round pick (No. 146)
2015 sixth-round pick (No. 185)

VIKINGS RESULT: Drafted WR Stefon Diggs (No. 146); Drafted OT Tyrus Thompson (No. 185)
FALCONS RESULT: Drafted DT Grady Jarrett (No. 137)


OFFSEASON: Traded fifth-round pick (No. 149) for:
WR Mike Wallace
2015 seventh-round pick (No. 232)

VIKINGS RESULT: Drafted LB Edmond Robinson (No. 232)
DOLPHINS RESULT: Drafted RB Jay Ajayi (No. 149)

Net Result: Dolphins select Jay Ajiay with the 149th pick. 


TOTAL DRAFT WEEKEND TRADES: 3
TRADE DOWNS: 3
TRADE UPS: 0


FINAL HAUL
(*acquired pick via trade)

1) Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State (#11)

2) Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA (#45)

3) Danielle Hunter, DE, LSU (#88)*

4) T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pitt (#110)

5) MyCole Pruitt, TE, Southern Illinois (#143)*

5) Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland (#146)*

6) Tyrus Thompson, OT, Oklahoma (#185)*

6) B.J. Dubose, DT, Louisville (#193)*

7) Austin Shepherd, OT, Alabama (#228)

7) Edmond Robinson, LB, Newberry (#232)*


OUTCOME: In total the Vikings made four trades. However, one of those was prior to the draft that included the acquisition of Mike Wallace. 

Top to bottom this class is the best to date from the Spielman and Zimmer duo. Zimmer started out his second draft with three straight defensive players to help the overhaul from what was the league’s 32nd ranked defense just a year prior and hit two doubles and a home run with Waynes, Kendricks and Hunter. 

T.J. Clemmings was well worth the risk at a position of need who had the highest ceiling of any offensive lineman remaining at that point. Meanwhile, Stefon Diggs is the cherry, whip cream and nuts on top of a glorious draft sundae for this front office. 

Diggs always had the potential and game changing abilities at Maryland. However, the laundry list of injuries on top of his small and slender frame was too tough to swing on for teams early on. I’ll never get over the fact the Vikings took MyCole Pruitt three picks before Diggs, making me ponder: What if that Diggs got sniped within those three selections (like we saw with Blake Cashman in 2019)? 

Their 2019 haul has some serious potential down the road, but for now, with three legitimate Pro Bowl players and one rock solid starter in Trae Waynes, 2015 will be a nearly impossible draft to top for this front office. 

2016 DRAFT

THIRD ROUND: Traded 86th overall pick to the Miami Dolphins for:
2016 sixth-round pick (No. 186)
2017 third-round pick
2017 fourth-round pick

VIKINGS RESULT: Traded No. 186 to Miami Dolphins (below)
DOLPHINS RESULT: Drafted WR Leonte Carroo (No. 86)


SIXTH ROUND: Traded 186th overall pick to Miami Dolphins for:
2016 sixth-round pick (No. 196)
2016 seventh-round pick (No. 227)

VIKINGS RESULT: Used No. 196 in trade-up (below); Drafted LB Stephen Weatherly (No. 227)
DOLPHINS RESULT: Drafted WR Jakeem Grant (No. 196)


SIXTH ROUND: Traded up to No. 188 with Philadelphia Eagles for:
2016 sixth-round pick (No. 196)
2016 seventh-round pick (No. 240)

VIKINGS RESULT: Draft TE David Morgan II (No. 188)
EAGLES RESULT: Drafted CB Blake Countess (No. 196); Drafted DE Alex McCalister (No. 240)


PREVIOUS SEASON: Traded Gerald Hodges to San Francisco 49ers for:
C Nick Easton
2016 fifth-round pick (No. 180)

VIKINGS RESULT: Drafted WR Moritz Bohringer (No. 180)


TOTAL DRAFT WEEKEND TRADES: 3
TRADE DOWNS: 2
TRADE UPS: 1


FINAL HAUL
(*acquired pick via trade)

1) Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss (#23)

2) Mack Alexander, CB, Clemson (#54)

4) Willie Beavers, OT, Western Michigan (#121)

5) Kentrell Brothers, LB, Missouri (#160)

6) Moritz Bohringer, WR, Germany (#180)*

6) David Morgan, TE, UTSA (#188)*

7) Stephen Weatherly, DE, Vanderbilt (#227)*

7) Jayron Kearse, S, Clemson (#244)


OUTCOME: In total the Vikings made four trades when including a player-for-player swap with the 49ers in the Gerald Hodges and Nick Easton trade. 

We can sit here and grade out Treadwell as a bust and Alexander as a hit, but the real identity of this draft should be Spielman’s ability to set the team up for the following year in a trade with the Miami Dolphins. While at the time losing their third-round pick sucked some fun out of the weekend for fans, getting three picks in return including a third and fourth rounder in 2017 proved to be the catalyst for a majorly impactful draft in a year the Vikings would find themselves *SPOILER* without their first and fourth round picks. 

Spielman cemented himself in history on the same weekend as the first team to ever draft a German player into the NFL. While the Moritz Bohringer test ultimately failed, the notoriety and good publicity earned him some points. 

This is when you can get a real taste for just how impactful those day three picks can become as you see three major role players that have all had an impact on the team at some point. The team traded up for David Morgan, who proved himself as the best blocking tight end on the team inside a run-heavy offense until a knee injury foiled the end of his Vikings tenure.

Stephen Weatherly and Jayron Kearse both departed in free agency in March, but both outplayed their seventh round value tenfold and stepped up in occasional starting roles and flashed when guys like Andrew Sendejo and Everson Griffen were out. When fans roll their eyes at yet another inevitable Spielman trade down this year, these are the late-round picks you should be quick to point to as the glue between the cracks of an ultra competitive 53-man roster. 

2017 DRAFT

You got a small taste of Spielman’s draft day dances in 2016 with three trade backs. However, after losing Teddy Bridgewater two weeks before the season the front office chose to acquire Sam Bradford from the Philadelphia Eagles for their first and fourth-round picks. This set the Vikings front office behind the eight ball right out the gate, and as you’ll soon be reminded, forced Spielman to move around even more to try and gain his draft capital back.  

PREVIOUS SEASON: Vikings acquire QB Sam Bradford for:
2017 first-round pick (No. 14)
2018 fourth-round pick (No. 130) 

EAGLES RESULT: Drafted DE Derek Barnett (No. 14); Drafted DE Josh Sweat (2018, No. 130)


The common trend for Spielman is clearly trading down and stockpiling day three picks. However, here we see a rare move up for Spielman, who was well aware Dalvin Cook would not last another seven selections. Moving up with the Bengals for an extra fourth-round pick was well worth alleviating the stress of Cook making it down that far.  

SECOND ROUND: Vikings trade up with Cincinnati Bengals for 41st overall pick for:
2017 second-round pick (No. 48)
2017 fourth-round pick (No. 128)

VIKINGS RESULT: Drafted RB Dalvin Cook (No. 41)
BENGALS RESULT: Drafted RB Joe Mixon (No. 48); Drafted WR Josh Malone (No. 128)


We had another rare trade-up one round later as a big run on offensive line quickly dropped the depth at Minnesota’s position of need. Spielman decided to move up nine spots, giving an extra fifth-round pick to select Rimington Trophy winner Pat Elflein. 

THIRD ROUND: Vikings trade up with New York Jets for 70th overall pick for:
2017 third-round pick (No. 79)
2017 fifth-round pick (No. 160)

VIKINGS RESULT: Drafted C Pat Elflein (No. 70)
JETS RESULT: Drafted WR ArDarius Stewart (No. 79); Traded No. 160 to Cleveland, who drafted OT Roderick Johnson


*Pause it here and let’s collect our thoughts. 

At this point the Vikings had given up their first and fourth picks for Sam Bradford eight months prior. Then, with their first two selections, they actually traded up to pluck Cook and Elflein. 

Remember, though, the previous year Spielman gave up his third rounder for an extra third and fourth rounder in 2017, giving him more flexibility to move around when he saw the opportunity present itself. 

Unpause. 

With little ammo left, Spielman got the itch and knew he was willing to do what he needed to in order to gather more picks on day three. So Spielman took his extra pick in the third round (from the trade back with Miami in 2016) and partnered with the Chiefs, moving all the way down 18 spots. A huge fall but one that gained him an extra fourth (104) and seventh-round pick (245). 

THIRD ROUND: Traded 86th overall pick to Kansas City Chiefs for:
2017 third-round pick (No. 104)
2017 fourth-round pick (No. 132)
2017 seventh-round pick (No. 245)

VIKINGS RESULT: Traded No. 104 to San Francisco 49ers (below); Traded No. 132 to Philadelphia Eagles (below); Drafted DB Jack Tocho (No. 245)
CHIEFS RESULT: Drafted RB Kareem Hunt (No. 86)


When he finally got back on the clock at No. 104, Spielman moved back five more spots to gain another seventh rounder with the 49ers. 

THIRD ROUND: Vikings trade 104th overall pick to San Francisco 49ers for:
2017 fourth-round pick (No. 108)
2017 seventh-round pick (No. 219)

VIKINGS RESULT: Drafted DT Jaleel Johnson (No. 109); Drafted WR Stacy Coley (No. 219)
49ers RESULT: Drafted QB C.J. Beathard (No. 104)


With that extra fourth round pick he just acquired with the Chiefs in the Kareem Hunt trade, Spielman took that and moved back seven more spots from 132 to 139 in order to gain an extra seventh round pick, yet again. 

FOURTH ROUND: Vikings trade 132nd overall pick to Philadelphia Eagles for:
2017 fourth-round pick (No. 139)
2017 seventh-round pick (No. 230)

VIKINGS RESULT: Traded No. 139 to Kansas City Chiefs (below); Traded No. 230 to Washington Redskins (below)
EAGLES RESULT: Drafted RB Donnel Pumphrey (No. 132)


At this point Trader Rick was just in the zone. If playing NBA Jam, no doubt Spielman would’ve heard “HE’S ON FIRE!” from the PA announcer by now. “Shooters shoot,” he probably said. 

Rick took that fourth round pick (No. 139) he had already moved down twice with, and this time moved out of the round completely. In return got two selections in the fifth round with picks 170 and 180. 

FOURTH ROUND: Traded the 139th overall pick to the Kansas City Chiefs for:
2017 fifth-round pick (No. 170)
2017 fifth-round pick (No. 180)

VIKINGS RESULT: Drafted WR Rodney Adams (No. 170); Drafted G Danny Isidora (No. 180)
CHIEFS RESULT: Drafted WR Jehu Chesson (No. 139)


By this point Spielman was just showing off. He sealed the night off by moving his sixth-round pick (No. 199) down just two spots with the Washington Redskins (No. 201) in order to swap seventh-round picks and move up from 230 to 220. 

SIXTH ROUND: Traded the 199th overall pick and 230th pick to the Washington Redskins for:
2017 sixth-round pick (No. 201)
2017 seventh-round pick (No. 220)

VIKINGS RESULT: Drafted TE Bucky Hodges (No. 201); Drafted DL Ifeadi Odenigbo (No. 220)
REDSKINS RESULT: Drafted G Chase Roullier (No. 199); Drafted S Josh Harvey-Clemons (No. 230) 


TOTAL DRAFT WEEKEND TRADES: 7
TRADE DOWNS: 5
TRADE UPS: 2


FINAL HAUL
(*Acquired pick via trade)

2) Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State (#41)*

3) Pat Elflein, C, Ohio State (#70)*

4) Jaleel Johnson, DT, Iowa (#109)*

4) Ben Gedeon, ILB, Michigan (#120)

5) Rodney Adams, WR, USF (#170)*

5) Danny Isidora, OG, Miami (#180)*

6) Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech (#201)*

7) Stacy Coley, WR, Miami (#219)*

7) Ifeadi Odenigbo, DL, Northwestern (#220)*

7) Elijah Lee, LB, Kansas State (#242)

7) Jack Tocho, S, NC State (#245)*


OUTCOME: When including the Sam Bradford deal the Vikings made eight draft trades in all with two of the eight being trade ups. 

When I look at that weekend as a whole I’m still astonished at what Spielman was able to do given he started with no first and fourth-round pick. Looking back, his gutsy move to trade his 2016 third rounder to the Dolphins gave him that extra ammo needed to move up and secure their draft targets. It’s clear to me without the extra third and fourth-round picks from the Dolphins the year prior, there’s no way the front office would’ve been able to be as flexible and aggressive early on. 

Trader Rick took his game to a whole new level in 2017 and showed just how many layers there are in his scouting team’s draft process, and just how well Spielman knows how to play the game in a league where draft picks are the only real currency. 

After the Bradford trade if you were to tell me the Vikings would still leave the weekend tying a league high 11 draft picks, I would have to wonder just how much coffee and chew the war room went through during those 72 hours to pull off such an astonishing feat. 

Cook remains the top prize by a landslide and proved his worth as a trade-up draftee despite a fading positional value at running back. In a run-first offense under Gary Kubiak, all 31 teams know the engine of the Vikings offense is the 41st pick in the 2017 draft. 

Elflein has struggled mightily with injuries and being unable to put on the proper strength and weight to hold up against bigger defensive tackles, thus far making him a likely candidate to be replaced after 2020. Three major defensive contributors in Ben Gedeon, Johnson and most recently Odenigbo helped round out the class. 

2018 DRAFT

Nearly impossible to top the year prior when Spielman traded a ridiculous eight times. However, he couldn’t stay docile for long. Spielman moved back eight spots with the Buccaneers from round three to round four, netting an extra sixth-round pick in the process, which (stop me if you’ve heard this before) would go on to get traded. 

THIRD ROUND: Traded 94th overall pick to Tampa Bay Buccaneers for:
2018 fourth-round pick (No. 102)
2018 sixth-round pick (No. 180)

VIKINGS RESULT: Drafted DT Jalyn Holmes (No. 102); Traded No. 180 to New York Jets (below)
BUCCANEERS RESULT: Drafted OT Alex Cappa (No. 94)


Spielman coveted Tyler Conklin in the fifth round so much he was willing to part with a seventh rounder to move up the 10 spots to go get his guy. 10 picks later Speilman traded up with the Jets to get his original fifth rounder back and selected kicker Daniel Carlson. Carlson, out of Auburn, was one of the best kicking prospects to come into the draft in the last few years. 

FIFTH ROUND: Traded up to 157th overall pick with the New York Jet for:
2018 fifth-round pick (No. 167)
2018 seventh-round pick (No. 225, acquired in Trevor Siemian trade)

VIKINGS RESULT: Drafted TE Tyler Conklin (No. 157)
JETS RESULT: Traded No. 167 and No. 225 back to Minnesota (below)


The Carlson move ultimately cost him two sixth round picks. However, after wheeling and dealing for two straight drafts, Spielman had at one time four sixth-rounders to play with, leaving him with still two more remaining.

FIFTH ROUND: Traded up to 167th overall pick and 225th pick with New York Jet for:
2018 sixth-round pick (No. 180)
2018 sixth-round pick (No. 204)

VIKINGS RESULT: Drafted K Daniel Carlson (No. 167); Drafted LB Devante Downs (No. 225)
JETS RESULT: Drafted DT Folorunso Fatukasi (No. 180); Drafted RB Trenton Cannon (No. 204)


OFFSEASON: Traded 2019 fifth-round pick for:
QB Trevor Siemian
2018 seventh-round pick (No. 225, detailed above)

VIKINGS RESULT: Drafted LB Devante Downs (No. 225, after trading and reacquiring)
BRONCOS RESULT: Drafted LB Justin Hollins (No. 156, 2019)


TOTAL DRAFT WEEKEND TRADES: 3
TRADE DOWNS: 1
TRADE UPS: 2


FINAL HAUL
(*acquired pick via trade)

1) Mike Hughes, CB, UCF (#30)

2) Brian O’Neill, OT, Pittsburgh (#60)

4) Jalyn Holmes, DL, Ohio State (#102)*

5) Tyler Conklin, TE, Central Michigan (#157)*

5) Daniel Carlson, K, Auburn (#167)*

6) Colby Gossett, OG, Appalachian State (#213)

6) Ade Aruna, DE, Tulane (#218)

7) Devante Downs, LB, California (#225)*


OUTCOME: This might have been Spielman’s quietest draft to date with just three trades. It’s also one of the only times you’ll see this front office with more trade ups than trade downs as the Vikings have now shown in two straight drafts they aren’t afraid to go up and get their guys. Spielman just prefers to have the needed ammo first. 

Leading up into draft day the fan chatter was heavily focused between offensive line targets like UTEP’s Will Hernandez or taking the best player available on the board. 

The latter was ultimately chosen when Mike Hughes fell into the laps of well known cornerback guru Mike Zimmer. While some still-bitter fans like to compare Hughes to Hernandez, who landed in New York, the addition of Brian O’Neill in round two should all but silence every known critic. 

Even though I was a hater after watching O’Neill get bullied down at the Senior Bowl, here he is starting nearly every game while giving up just two career sacks, per PFF. Well-rounded fans of the team knew the Vikings needed to nail a cornerstone offensive lineman in the worst way. It just happened to come one round later thanks to Spielman and his staff. 

Outside of those two, this class has been relatively weak and unproductive. Holmes and Conklin still give this group the potential to be above average as a whole if they can pierce through a deep lineup as consistent contributors. 

As one of the best kicking prospects I had seen over the past few draft classes, I still stand by moving up to select Carlson with the idea being, if you hit, you take the position off your to-do list for the next 15 years. But, we don’t talk about that around here anymore. 

2019 DRAFT

PREVIOUS SEASON: Acquired OL Brett Jones from the New York Giants for:
2019 seventh-round pick

GIANTS RESULT: Drafted OT George Asafo-Adjei (No. 232)


After tracking the Vikings draft classes over the past six years, it’s clear one of their favorite draft partners is someone inside the division, the Detroit Lions (along with the Seahawks and Falcons). 

The trend continued in 2019 when the Vikings moved down from 81 to 88, but this time only netting just a sixth-round pick (No. 204) as the Lions moved up to draft Will Harris. A shockingly low value given the round placement and drop. Makes you think word on the street is that Spielman will take anything he can get to stockpile extra picks after showing his hand over the last five years. 

THIRD ROUND: Traded the 81st overall pick to the Detroit Lions for:
2019 third-round pick (No. 88)
2019 sixth-round pick (No. 204)

VIKINGS RESULT: Traded No. 88 to the Seattle Seahawks (below)
LIONS RESULT: Drafted S Will Harris (No. 81)


But instead the Lions just poked the bear and made Spielman angry. He was very aggressive this round, taking pick 88 and moving down four spots just to swap his sixth-round pick for the Seattle Seahawks’ fifth-round pick. 

THIRD ROUND: Traded 88th overall pick and 209th pick to Seattle Seahawks for:
2019 third-round pick (No. 92)
2019 fifth-round pick (No. 159)

VIKINGS RESULT: Traded No. 92 to New York Jets (below)
SEAHAWKS RESULT: Drafted LB Cody Barton (No. 88)


Typically when you see trades this early in the draft you’ll see teams netting more for the amount of spots the Vikings moved back. However, it’s clear that Spielman and his team are so comfortable with the board at this juncture and their gameplan moving forward. 

And if Spielman and his scouting staff are that confident the player targeted will be available later on, then why not gain every extra pick you can on the way there. Those seemingly meaningless late day three picks Spielman loves to acquire often end up being the glue between the cracks of a deep roster. For example, guys like Stephen Weatherly, David Morgan, Jayron Kearse, Ifeadi Odengibo and Stefon Diggs were all found on day three.

Spielman hit the hat trick four picks later, taking that 92nd pick and moving down just one spot, showing the rest of the general managers just how active he was willing to be. By moving down just one spot the Vikings took the Jets’ seventh-round pick (No. 217) and drafted Kris Boyd, who would turn out to be arguably their best special teamer. 

THIRD ROUND: Traded 92nd overall pick to New York Jets for:
2019 third-round pick (No. 93)
2019 seventh-round pick (No. 217)

VIKINGS RESULT: Traded No. 93 to Baltimore Ravens (below); Drafted CB Kris Boyd (No. 217)
JETS RESULT: Drafted OT Chuma Edoga (No. 92)


Then Spielman set a new personal best when he traded that same pick for the fourth time in just one round, moving down from 93 with the Ravens for pick 102, where the team finally landed the player they were coveting all along in Boise State running back Alexander Mattison. 

THIRD ROUND: Traded 93rd overall pick to Baltimore Ravens for:
2019 third-round pick (No. 102)
2019 sixth-round pick (No. 191)
2019 sixth-round pick (No. 193)

VIKINGS RESULT: Drafted RB Alexander Mattison (No. 102); Drafted S Marcus Epps (No. 191); Drafted T Oli Udoh (No. 193)
RAVENS RESULT: Drafted WR Miles Boykin (No. 93)


The very next round Spielman used some of that ammo to move up six spots from No. 120 to No. 114 so they could land Dru Samia. With a big run on offensive line before him, Samia was the last consensus big name left on the board before a significant drop. Again, without the proper ammo garnished from four trade backs the round prior, this front office may not have had the luxury to be as aggressive as they needed to be to go get their guy. 

FOURTH ROUND: Traded up to 114th overall pick with the Seattle Seahawks for:
2019 fourth-round pick (No. 120)
2019 sixth-round pick (No. 204)

VIKINGS RESULT: Drafted G Dru Samia (No. 114)
SEAHAWKS RESULT: Drafted WR Gary Jennings Jr. (No. 120); Drafted RB Travis Homer (No. 204)


In the fifth round the Vikings took their extra pick from the Seahawks (No. 159) and moved down three spots to (No. 162) with the New England Patriots. This is one of the very few trade backs that ended up stinging Spielman as a potential hometown target Blake Cashman was sniped in between the three selections. The Vikings then subsequently drafted USC linebacker Cameron Smith. The trade down netted Spielman pick No. 239 at the end of round seven. 

FIFTH ROUND: Traded 159th overall pick to the New England Patriots for:
2019 fifth-round pick (No. 162)
2019 seventh-round pick (No. 239)

VIKINGS RESULT: Drafted LB Cameron Smith (No. 162); Drafted WR Dillon Mitchell (No. 239)
PATRIOTS RESULT: Drafted DT Byron Cowart (No. 159)


TOTAL DRAFT WEEKEND TRADES: 6
TRADE DOWNS: 5
TRADE UPS: 1


FINAL HAUL
(*acquired pick via trade)

1) Garrett Bradbury, C, NC State (#18)

2) Irv Smith JR, TE, Alabama (#50)

3) Alexander Mattison, RB, Boise State (#102)*

4) Dru Samia, OG, Oklahoma (#114)*

5) Cameron Smith, LB, USC (#162)*

6) Armon Watts, DT, Arkansas (#190)

6) Marcus Epps, S, Wyoming (#191)*

6) Oli Udoh, OT, Elon (#193)*

7) Kris Boyd, CB, Texas (#217)*

7) Dillon Mitchell, WR, Oregon (#239)*

7) Olabisi Johnson, WR, Colorado State (#247)

7) Austin Cutting, LS, Air Force (#250)


OUTCOME: By now it’s no secret how much Spielman likes to wheel and deal, this time making six trades, four of which came in round three alone. There were five total trade downs to garnish more ammo. Their one move up was to target Dru Samia, who was clearly the last guard left from the second tier before a big dropoff in talent. That helped make the move justifiable as Samia would have been likely plucked in between the six spots the Vikings leapfrogged from 120 to 114. 

Over the entire draft weekend the league processed 40 trades in all, meaning Spielman and the Vikings alone counted for 15 percent, a huge piece of the pie for one team in a league of 32. 

While the majority of the trades were to acquire sixth and seventh-round picks that are undoubtedly just low-yield lottery tickets, those extra picks gave them an entire new crop of talent to sift through and mold for an eventual overhaul in the 2020 off-season given their 32nd-ranked cap situation. 

Regardless of the position, day three picks like Armon Watts, Kris Boyd and Bisi Johnson all played a far bigger role than most would anticipated during the 2019 campaign. Johnson and Boyd have already shaken their seventh-round labels and look primed to take on an even bigger role in 2020 as possible starters at their respective positions — a notion fans would have scoffed at heading into the season. 

Two offenisve lineman in Odoh and Samia had the advantage of “redshirting” last season, giving them a huge advantage most rookies don’t have as they learn the nuances of the NFL while putting on more size and strength. In Week 17, the Vikings sat a majority of their starters and plugged in Udoh, Samia and other rookies. While going up against the likes of Everson Griffen is good for growth, being able to get these guys live in-game reps versus Khalil Mack and other division rivals will prove to be ultra valuable. For both coach and player, having a full game of film to break down and learn from will only speed up their development process. In what every player will tell you is a drastic and overwhelming jump from college to the pros, bringing these guys along slowly while sprinkling in some live game reps here or there is a rare luxury very few coaches and players get at this level. 

When you take all that into account and add in hopeful hits like Bradbury, Smith Jr., and Mattison, it’s easy to see why this draft class is just scratching the surface and could some day make a strong push at 2015 as Zimmer and Spielman’s best haul since working together. 

CHECK OUT THE REST OF THE ZONE COVERAGE DRAFT GUIDE:

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EXPLORING VIKINGS DRAFT TRENDS
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Rick Spielman Pleased With Vikings' Pre-Draft Process During Pandemic

Photo Credit: Brian Spurlock (USA Today Sports)

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