The Minnesota Vikings were sitting pretty at No. 12 on Thursday night of the NFL draft. The first five picks were used on defensive players, and a flurry of wideouts were taken right before the Vikings were on the clock.
There were several directions they could’ve opted to go, but they traded out of No. 12 and moved back 20 spots. The most bizarre part of the deal was that the return left a lot to be desired. If NFL draft picks were currency, first-rounders are treated like gold by front offices. The price to move up the board is costly. Usually, anyway.
On Thursday night, the Vikings traded pick No. 12 to the Detroit Lions and moved back to No. 32. To put into context how big of a hike back that is, the second-biggest jump up in Round 1 this year came from the Kansas City Chiefs, who moved up eight spots from No. 29 to No. 21. The cost of doing business ended up being three picks: Nos. 23, 94, and 121, going back to the New England Patriots.
The Vikings moved back 20 slots to the last pick on Thursday. Along with giving up the No. 12 selection, they also coughed up pick No. 46 to the Lions.
Essentially, the Vikings were able to move up 12 spots in Round 2 and scoop up a third-round pick. But they slid back 20 spots in Round 1. So, really, the big gain is that they added another selection in Round 3.
Regardless of what anyone thinks of Jameson Williams, the wide receiver from Alabama who the Lions took with the pick from Minnesota, it’s hard to grasp precisely how this trade was a net positive for the Vikings. Lewis Cine, the safety from Georgia that the Vikings took with the final pick of Night 1, could very well turn out to be an absolute stud. But that’s not what this is about.
From a pure value perspective, what the Vikings gave up compared to what they got in return from the Lions felt like highway robbery. It reeked of a move that the old regime would greet with enthusiasm.
Detroit has two first-round selections next year stemming from the Matthew Stafford trade. Could the Vikings really not wheel-and-deal their way into snagging one of those? The Lions weren’t asking to scoot up just two slots like the Buffalo Bills did when they traded from No. 25 to No. 23 with the Baltimore Ravens. They were making a giant leap up the charts when and had already taken Aidan Hutchinson at No. 2 overall. How Minnesota not only couldn’t snag one of those future first-rounders but had to also give up pick No. 46 this year is baffling.
It’s hard to envision that there wasn’t one prospect on the board when the Vikings were on the clock that they didn’t highly value. Many thought they’d go with safety Kyle Hamilton out of Notre Dame or Williams, who ended up going in that spot but to Detroit. Trading back is fine. However, it’s an awfully deflating feeling for a fanbase that has to sit around all night waiting for that one moment in the spotlight. And Vikings fans are all too familiar with the old trade-back method.
To give up what the Vikings did and get back so little feels like a fleecing. To be pantsed by a division rival just adds salt to the wound.
None of this has to do with who the Lions took or who the Vikings ended up getting. It’s about the value of the picks they swapped. In no world should the Vikings have had to give up No. 46 along with No. 12 only to move up to No. 34 in the second round and get a filler pick in Round 3. While in many cases fans overreact to trades, in this case, the frustration is justified.
It’s the first big draft move for Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and this new regime. Cine can turn out to be the next great thing, and Williams could fall flat on his face. It still won’t change the fact that this trade was puzzling.
At least the Vikings will be up early tomorrow at No. 34 overall for the glass-half-full crowd. Knowing how this franchise usually works, they’ll trade with a quarterback-hungry team, give up No. 34 and No. 46, collect a few sixth-rounders, and chalk it up as a win.