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Day 1 Draft Thoughts

I understand the importance of the draft, I really do.  A team cannot trade away all their draft picks year after year and expect to remain competitive.  Just ask the Washington Redskins.  However, a draft day trade for a marquee player, without sacrificing too in terms of draft picks, can elevate a good team to a great team.  The Vikings trade for Jared Allen would be a good example there; the Bears trade for Jay Cutler wouldn’t be.   At least not yet.   Which is why the trade with the Detroit Lions out of the first round is a bit mystifying, with one caveat.

Let’s talk about their second round pick first…er, initially…whatever.  There are several scenarios that are playing out here.  The most obvious one is Jimmy Clausen, who will be available with the #34 pick.  Now, here’s where it gets interesting.  If the Vikings really liked Clausen and think he’s their QB of the future, I can’t see them trading down and risking somebody making a trade with Detroit to get their #33 pick.  With a whole night between round one and two for teams to re-stack their boards and really explore trade opportunities, that seems like a big gamble, especially for your potential QB of the future. 

The other possibility, of course, is that the Vikings have somebody else identified, and are pretty sure that he’ll be there.  So they take him, end of story.  And then we get the usual ‘I can’t believe he was there, because we had him as the #5 overall guy’ stories.  You know the drill.

The most intriguing one for me, though, is that the Vikings are trying to make teams believe that they want Clausen when they really don’t, causing a team like Cleveland, Buffalo, or Kansas City to make a possible panic move to overpay and move up for Clausen.  There is still a lot of talent left in this draft, and if the Vikings could come out of this with an additional third or fourth round pick, I have full confidence in their ability to pick a good player with it.

The one thing that really bugs me about this trade is that it was with the post-Matt Millen Detroit Lions.  These guys know what they’re doing now, and that sucks for us as Vikings fans, because they have now picked four guys in the first round two years in a row.  Ndamakung Suh was a great pick at #2, Jahvid Best was the best back on the board, and they need a running back.  I think his durability will be an issue, but I can’t fault the logic in that move.  This makes the trade, at least from the Vikings perspective, a lateral move at best and a bad move at worst.   Why make a divisional foe stronger when you didn’t have to? 

They either get Clausen or prospect X without the trade, so why do it?  Well, this is why.

The upside for this trade is the swapping of the fourth round picks.  The Vikings move up from #128 overall to #100, and the Vikings have made some very good fourth round and later picks in recent years, including  Ray Edwards, Brian Robison, Mewelde Moore, and of course the most memorable fourth rounder of all, Onterrio ‘Hey is That a Fake Penis in Your Carry-on or Are You Just Happy to See Me?’ Smith.  There is a lot of talent available in the fourth round, both in terms of football ability and comedic potential, so that is a significant jump. 

But it's still a gamble, because if Jahvid Best stays healthy, and you just delivered a stable, productive running for the next ten years to a division rival on a silver platter, this trade will be viewed as a failure, regardless of who pick #100 is.