Arif Hasan's Vikings 2024 Mock Draft 2.0: What If the Vikings Traded Up For A Quarterback?

Photo Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

There has been significant discussion among the Minnesota Vikings fanbase about the utility of trading up in the 2024 NFL draft – one apparently in the cards, given Jeremy Fowler’s ESPN report about the Vikings being a candidate to trade up to the second- or third-overall pick to select a quarterback.

I wanted to model what that could look like, so we’ve got another mock draft in the cards. Last week, I used the FanSpeak simulator to generate a mock draft that simulated trades down. This week, we’ll trade up using the Pro Football Focus simulator – one that allows players to be thrown into trades.

Without a third-round pick, it was going to be difficult to trade up while also keeping enough picks to produce an interesting mock draft – one that would return value to the Vikings. But thanks to the New England Patriots eschewing quarterback in favor of Louisiana State wide receiver Malik Nabers, it was possible to organize a trade up for a quarterback of the future.

Round 1, Pick No. 6: Jayden Daniels, QB LSU

The New York Giants didn’t seem particularly interested in drafting a quarterback. Perhaps, in this world, they wanted to give their $82 million quarterback another chance. To acquire this pick without losing a second-round asset, I traded away the 109th pick and the 145th pick, and Jalen Nailor to move up from No. 11 to No. 6.

By the traditional trade chart, this would suggest that the Giants paid 240.5 points, or a second-round pick, for Nailor. That seems like a big loss for them. By the more analytically inclined “approximate value”-derived trade chart, the Vikings lost the trade without giving Nailor up, much less with the promising young receiver. They suggest that the Vikings would have struck even if they eliminated the 145th pick from the trade.

The model built by Jason Fitzgerald and Brad Spielberger at OverTheCap, using the value of second contracts for draft picks, suggests that both picks that the Vikings gave up were too much. To them, a better deal would have been giving up a sixth-round pick.

That’s pretty aggressive. I’m comfortable giving up what we did given the value of quarterbacks, especially with the knowledge that the Rich Hill historical trade chart suggests that the Giants paid about the value of a late third-round pick for Nailor.

Daniels has been an excellent quarterback at LSU. He has been inconsistent, but his big-play capability has been extraordinary. With a good arm and fantastic athleticism, he can create in nearly every capacity. His feel for the game is high-level, too. He reads defenses quickly and accurately and intuitively understands how to manipulate defenders as a passer and as a runner.

As someone who is calm under pressure, Daniels has shown a gift for feathering passes into the second level while defenders bear down on him. But he’s generally considered the third-best quarterback for a reason; his inconsistency has led to errant accuracy, with ball-placement issues magnified in some games.

That inconsistency may be a product of his footwork, and his release can lose its discipline at teams. That will need to be worked on, and at his relatively old age — he will be 24 at the end of his rookie year — it may be a bit much to treat him like a developmental prospect.

Round 2, Pick No. 42: Traded to Pittsburgh Steelers for Pick No. 52

To recoup my trade losses, I wanted to add some draft picks outside of Day 3. Given that the Steelers wanted to trade up, it was pretty easy to negotiate a way down. I added a third-round pick, which was a bit pricey on Pittsburgh’s part. It’s a loss by every chart, but it’s not unheard of, either.

The Steelers used that pick to select tackle Kiran Amegadjie from BYU, who was not a target I had. No big deal. I was more interested in either safety Tyler Nubin from Minnesota or edge rusher Chop Robinson from Penn State.

Round 2, Pick No. 52: Traded to Baltimore Ravens for Pick No. 62

No dice. Both were selected by the time pick 52 rolled around. I could select Christian Haynes or Braden Fiske, both of whom I liked enough to select last week. But Baltimore’s offer was attractive; the 62nd pick for the 52nd pick, with the 93rd and 164th pick as the price for moving up.

That’s a pretty big overpay from the Ravens. They spent about a fourth-rounder more than they needed to. We’re getting pretty lucky with trades here and have acquired more picks than become useful to write about. So we’re going to trade up pretty soon to shed the picks and take advantage of our good fortune.

Round 3, Picks No. 62: Xavier Worthy, WR Texas

A tough, physical receiver with a track background, Worthy has been a capable producer for the Longhorns. Although that track speed likely won’t translate into big plays in the NFL, it still shows up in his efficient movement profile. He’s a good route-runner with great get-off.

He’s a potentially ideal replacement for K.J. Osborn. Worthy can get deep on occasion but will also mix it up over the middle and find space where a lot of other receivers wouldn’t. As a complementary player, he’d fit in well with all-around receiver Justin Jefferson and deep threat Jordan Addison. Although he’s a smaller player, he plays bigger than his size and gives a lot more than he gets.

Round 3, Pick No. 69: Caelen Carson, CB Wake Forest

I traded up to the 69th pick by trading away the 84th, 157th, and 179th picks away to the Los Angeles Chargers. I had attempted to trade with a number of teams in this range, and nobody was biting, so I had to be comfortable overpaying. That was important because the corners that would be available later in the draft were primarily slot types, and I wanted someone to play on the outside opposite Byron Murphy.

This trade is technically even by the historical and traditional charts, but it’s a somewhat substantial loss by the analytics charts.

The Vikings need to beef up their secondary. Though they couldn’t do it in this simulation with their first several picks, they don’t need to sacrifice it to get their quarterback. Carson is an athletic and agile cornerback with size and length.

Carson has performed well as an outside corner and has been scheme-versatile, with experience in off, press, zone, and man coverage. He’s been capable in all of those situations and is particularly capable in the slot. His agility and feel for the game make him a natural fit there, though there’s no reason to think he can’t consistently play on the outside.

His speed hasn’t been up to the same standards as other corners in the draft, but it’s not a huge liability, either. Rather, concerns about his frame and physicality have dropped him to the third round. He could be a high-level corner if he can manage that, along with some technical inconsistencies.

Round 3, Pick No. 93: Marshawn Kneeland, ED Western Michigan

This is the third third-round selection of this draft, and I was hoping to do something along these lines – move up in the first and down in the second to concentrate my picks on the valuable second day of the draft.

Kneeland is an interesting prospect because his traditional statistical profile is fairly poor. He generated 4.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles-for-loss. But his advanced profile is pretty good. He has a decent pass-rush win rate compared to other draftees and extremely good marks against the run characterize his play.

Unless he shows surprising agility at the NFL combine, he primarily profiles as a technical power rusher with high-level run defense that can kick inside on nickel downs. There’s a lot potentially lying underneath the surface with Kneeland, and he could be an interesting prospect to develop.

Round 4, Pick No. 130: Beaux Limmer, C Arkansas

The Vikings either need to sign Dalton Risner to a long-term deal or need to find a new starting interior offensive lineman. Beaux Limmer has played guard and center in college and, though a bit small for a guard, he could compete for that job alongside a not-too-expensive free agent at the position.

Long term, Limmer might be able to replace Garrett Bradbury. Even if he doesn’t, he could turn out to be a good pick. Like Bradbury, he demonstrates fluidity and athleticism. He might have even better balance than Minnesota’s current center. Limmer’s size can be an issue, though it was nice to see him do well against players like T’Vondre Sweat at the Senior Bowl.

There is room for technical development and he will need to be more controlled at the second level, but he could become a long-term starter at the position.

Round 5, Pick No. 164: Kimani Vidal, HB Troy

It’s become clear that Kene Nwangwu can’t become a full-time running back and that Alexander Mattison isn’t a primary back. Ty Chandler will need to improve to be a featured back, and there’s not much reason to believe the Vikings should hand him the job without competition.

A late-round pick can provide that kind of competition. Though Vidal is a shorter back, he has shown the size and strength to run between the tackles. He doesn’t have high-end speed like Nwangwu or Chandler, but his acceleration and top-end velocity are much better than Mattison’s. Vidal has found ways to consistently grind out yards with balance, footwork, and contact balance, and his vision has been good, too.

He’ll need to run with a bit more discipline in the NFL, but between him and DeWayne McBride, it’s possible that the Vikings could have a new set of backs in their committee.

Round 5, Pick No. 166: Johnny Dixon, CB Penn State

Adding one cornerback won’t be enough – the Vikings should inject as much young talent into the group as possible. Akayleb Evans could experience the same jump that Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes did and have a breakout third year. But the Vikings can’t rely on that.

So they add another cornerback in the draft in Penn State’s Johnny Dixon. I didn’t expect him to be available this late in the draft, so this is a bit of a coup. He has size, quickness, and an intuition for the position – that’s pretty rare on Day 3. His experience in multiple coverage schemes is also a boon.

He has an overly grabby playstyle, and his Senior Bowl measurements were a concern, but he plays with length on film. Dixon brings utility as a blitzer and is an active participant in run defense. He needs to clean up his style of play, and we’ll have to see what his workouts produce, but he’s an intriguing potential starter.

Round 7, Pick No. 227: Jordan Magee, LB Temple

The Vikings will probably have to add a linebacker or two in free agency to replace Jordan Hicks and supplement Ivan Pace and Brian Asamoah. But it shouldn’t hurt to add a player at the back end of the draft.

Magee profiles as an all-around linebacker. He has high grades as a run defender, pass rusher, and coverage defender, with improvement in all three areas every year. For those looking for size and length to complement the short linebacker group, this would be a disappointment. But Magee has range and explosiveness at the position and brings power despite a smaller frame.

He’s kept the agility he showcased as a safety without the disappointing physicality one often sees with those position converts. Magee could be a quick contributor or provide value on special teams.

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