The mother ship has done another mock draft, and this one is a doozy. It involves Khalil Mack, the Cleveland Browns, and a pretty stunning trade, if it were to actually go down.
But it's about as far away from what Rick Spielman would actually do, so let's talk about why it won't go down that way.
For the Vikings, the draft has been pretty straightforward, at least in terms of players they get and the trades they make to secure those players. They generally take the best player available at a position of need, and if they make a trade, it's one that doesn't cost them a ton.
For example, in 2012 they traded down one spot for Matt Kalil and acquired picks in rounds 4, 5, 7 from Cleveland. At the end of the first round, they traded back into the end of the first round for Harrison Smith. That pick cost them their second rounder and a fourth rounder. In 2010, the Vikings moved out of the first round and into the second in a trade with Detroit. The Vikings netted a seventh round pick, and they swapped fourth round picks.
These moves are fairly low impact in terms of draft picks surrendered, and that's been the signature of the Rick Spielman era--accumulate a lot of draft picks heading into the draft, so the Vikings have room to maneuver on draft weekend.
So needless to say, when colleague Matthew Fairburn came out with his latest mock, I was a bit puzzled. Here's his take:
4. TRADE- Khalil Mack, DE, Buffalo
Minnesota trades picks 8, 72, 96, 108 and a second-round pick in 2015 to the Browns for the fourth overall pick
The Vikings have been connected to Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack throughout the pre-draft process, and the fit makes some sense. After losing Jared Allen, the Vikings' pass rush could use a bit of a boost. If the Vikings really are enamored with Mack, they may have to trade up ahead of the Raiders to get him. Depending on the price, it seems like a realistic scenario.
It seems like a realistic scenario? No, it really doesn't. Now, I love the Mack pick. He would be great for a woeful Vikings linebacker corps, and I think Mack would be a guy the Vikings wouldn't hesitate to take, even if Teddy Bridgewater or Johnny Manziel were available. And Mack is a popular pick amongst the DN faithful, too. Christian Ponder blew up in Spielman's face, and another high profile QB draft pick with the potential to bust would get the GM fired. Going with Mack is a low risk, high reward selection that makes the Vikings defense a lot better.
But giving up both third round picks, their fourth round pick, and next year's second round pick? That would get Rick Spielman fired a lot quicker than drafting another bad quarterback early in the draft, and it goes against the grain of everything Spielman has done, in terms of philosophy and draft history. If they were to make a trade like that, that would only give them five picks in the 2014 draft, and that is unacceptable for a team that needs a lot more help.
Now, don't get me wrong, Minnesota has sent a lot of draft picks away in a trade since Spielman has been in Minnesota, but the conditions were much different, and the team was much better. In 2008, Minnesota made a huge trade with Kansas City, giving up a first and two third round picks, similar to Fairburn's scenario. But the player in question was proven defensive end Jared Allen, an All-Pro. Not an unproven rookie that has yet to take an NFL snap.
And the Vikings were in a much different place in 2008. They only needed a couple pieces to make a serious run at the Super Bowl, quarterback and defensive end. They got the defensive end with Allen, and landed Brett Favre a year later. Entering 2014, Minnesota needs a lot more than two players, and to give up that many picks, in a deep and talented draft, would be a foolish mistake.
On the contrary, I still think QB is the Vikings top target. If Teddy Bridgewater and/or Johnny Manziel keep dropping, I would be shocked if the Vikings didn't try to trade down, accumulate a few more picks to make a big move back into the end of the first round, and grab either Bridgewater or Manziel in the mid teens, and then go after a guy like Darqueze Dennard towards the back end.
But this much of a trade up, for that price? Ain't happening.