Ladies and gentlemen, the time has come. It is officially draft week in the NFL. The ramp-up to this year’s draft has already seen quite a bit of drama, and that likely won’t end until the conclusion of Day 3. In fact, it seems as though the Minnesota Vikings could be getting in on some of the excitement on Day 1.
This comes after NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that multiple teams, including Minnesota, were looking into moving up into the top 10. Per Pelissero, general manager Rick Spielman would attempt to trade up if one of the top tackles falls.
Assuming “top tackle” means either Penei Sewell or Rashawn Slater, both would be home-run picks and Week 1 starters. After months of neglecting the offensive line, fans would be able to breathe a half-hearted sigh of relief. At least Spielman would be looking to improve the unit.
There’s also the chance that either Trey Lance or Justin Fields could be available towards the tail end of the first round. Spielman could have some interesting options if he decided to trade into the top 10. But before the Vikings get the chance at any of those guys, they’d have to figure out how you put themselves in position to draft one of them.
If we take a look at the value of each pick at Spielman’s disposal, any trade up is going to require at least one, if not both, of Minnesota’s third-round picks. This may seem like a hefty price to move up a handful of spots, but it’s one worth paying if you pick up an elite prospect at a position of need.
Looking at the different trade partners Spielman could call up, one stands out above the rest. Per Adam Schefter, the Carolina Panthers have been fielding calls to move back from the eighth-overall pick. Looking further into what their draft arsenal looks like, it makes even more sense to partner up with Minnesota.
First off, Carolina only holds seven picks in the draft. The Sam Darnold Panthers aren’t in full rebuild mode, but they definitely need many more pieces before they’re sniffing the playoffs. Picking up some extra draft assets would go a long way towards replenishing the roster with some young talent. Not to mention that, at pick 14, they could have the chance to nab either a weapon for Darnold like Devonta Smith or solidify the defense with a Micah Parsons or one of the many options at edge rusher.
A marriage between the two teams actually seems mutually beneficial. The Vikings would likely have to give up the 14th, 78th, and 90th-overall picks to move up to No. 8. If we use the draft-pick value chart, Carolina gets the slightly better end of the deal from a numbers perspective. The deal could be almost identical if Minnesota also received the 151st-overall pick, but given that multiple teams will likely be looking to trade up, I’m not sure they could work that into the deal.
This trade looks good on paper if you get either Sewell or Slater, but it comes at a great cost. You lose multiple third-round picks, and with no second-round selection, the Vikings wouldn’t be on the clock again until pick 119.
Then again, this is the sort of move Vikings fans have been waiting for. Spielman is known for his obsession with collecting as many picks as possible but has never used them to make big moves. Last year fans wanted to trade for Trent Williams, but that didn’t happen. This year it seemed as though an Orlando Brown Jr. trade could work, but alas, nothing came to fruition. After all the near deals, this could finally be the one to inject some energy into the fanbase.
Based on their free-agent acquisitions, all signs point towards the Vikings believing they can contend this season. Whether you agree with that or not, Spielman has no interest in blowing this team up. If they truly think they’re a contender, this deal makes all the sense in the world. Cash in on assets to pick up someone who will help the dilapidated offensive line.
Like I said earlier, though, that’s not the only direction the Vikings could go. NFL teams are notorious for deploying smoke screens by releasing reports to the media to fake out other GMs. So while an offensive lineman would be great, what if Spielman is trying to weasel his way into drafting a quarterback?
It would stray away from the contender idea a bit, but I think it’s no secret that Minnesota could use a successor to Kirk Cousins. Both Fields and Lance have franchise quarterback potential, and putting them in a position where they don’t have to start right away could be extremely advantageous.
In short, the Vikings will have options if they move up. Either grab your franchise left tackle and build for this season or draft your successor to Cousins and secure the team’s future. Both are wildly different trains of thought, but either could prove to be successful. Needless to say, Thursday night will be appointment viewing for the Minnesota faithful. Spielman may finally stack his chips and go all in.