The 2018 NFL Draft is just a couple days away, and it is shaping up to be a little more unpredictable than most. There are some significant divergences in opinions about several players the Vikings may have interest in, and another potential run on QBs could leave the Vikings with some interesting choices at #30.
Six QBs could be drafted ahead of the Vikings first pick
It seems almost a given that Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen will be drafted ahead of the Vikings first pick, by QB needy teams. But there are also a few other teams that may be looking to draft an heir-apparent to an aging superstar: New England, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, the Giants and Chargers may all be in that market, which could lead to some late first-round trades. QBs like Mason Rudolph and Lamar Jackson may draw interest from these teams, and could easily go before the Vikings make their first pick.
It may be that if a QB that drops past Pittsburgh at #28, that could draw a trade with the Vikings ahead of the Patriots at #30, but even if it doesn’t, having potentialy six picks go for QBs ahead of the Vikings would mean other players of more interest will fall to them.
Don’t Be Surprised If Spielman Makes A Big Trade or Two
One thing I’ve noticed is that the Vikings have shown a lot of interest in prospects that could replace Anthony Barr. They’ve shown a lot of interest in Lorenzo Carter and Uchenna Nwosu, for example. Could Barr be dealt to a team like the Colts, who have the position need, draft capital and salary cap to deal for Barr? It’s not out of the question. Barr hasn’t performed as well as his first two years since then, and with Zimmer’s ‘coasting’ comment, the Vikings could be reluctant to pay him after his rookie deal is done this year.
Another possibility, perhaps more so this draft than in others, is for Spielman to swap a high pick in next year’s draft for another pick this week. We all know the Vikings’ Super Bowl window is wide open right now, so dealing even next year’s first-round pick for a guy that plays a key role this year may be worth it. Salary-cap is more of an issue going forward as well, so if there is a high-priced vet that can be replaced with a cheaper rookie contract, it may be worthwhile to pull the trigger now, rather than wait a year to get the new guy up to speed.
Dealing a guy like Laquon Treadwell isn’t out of the question either. He’s unlikely to fetch much at this point, but you could argue that a team with less depth at WR might view Treadwell as under-utilized and may draw some interest. If compensation for Treadwell gave the Vikings enough to take a chance on a guy like Jordan Lasley, maybe it makes sense to deal him. Mike Zimmer hasn’t sounded all that high on Treadwell’s prospects, so we’ll see what happens.
Who I Expect the Vikings to Draft
Clearly the biggest position of need for the Vikings is offensive line, and I see them using at least two picks on offensive linemen, including one high pick. Difficult to say who the top pick may be, but it’s possible it could be OT Mike McGlinchey. If that were the case, I could see the Vikings starting him at LT, and moving Reiff to RT and Remmers to a guard spot.
But I could also see the top OL pick being Frank Ragnow, and he may be the more likely pick. If it was Ragnow, I would expect him to start at center, and Elflein move to a guard spot, most likely right guard. The Vikings have looked at a lot of interior linemen that can play center, which considering Easton also can play center, may suggest they’re looking for a new center and to move Elflein to guard.
If McGlinchey were the top pick, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Vikings looked to pick up Billy Price somewhere on Day 2. But if it were Ragnow, I suspect the Vikings would be more inclined to use a mid-round pick to nab OT Alex Cappa, whose been drawing more interest of late. I suspect the Vikings would have to acquire a 4th round pick in some way to get Cappa. Trading back a few spots at #30 for a 4th round pick could yield both Ragnow and Cappa.
Spielman Talked About the Upcoming Draft Earlier Today
In his annual pre-draft press conference, Spielman was asked about drafting OL with his first pick, which he said he was not locked into. That was pretty much as expected, as Spielman or any other GM for that matter, is loathe to reveal their intentions ahead of the draft. In more general terms, he said offensive line is an area they may address as a more immediate need, but also that they are looking to address positions they may need to fill on next year’s roster. He mentioned that they were looking at five different positions as a potential first pick. Based on the prospect meetings they’ve had, those positions are likely offensive line, tight-end, linebacker, cornerback, and safety.
Offensive guard and tackle are obvious needs. The rest are a little more curious. At safety, Andrew Sendejo is in his second-to-last contract year, and probably not a starter after that. The Vikings have looked at Justin Reid, and more recently Ronnie Harrison as a potential high pick at safety.
At corner, the only real high pick they’ve looked at is Mike Hughes. They have also looked at Holten Hill, who may be more of a mid-round choice.
At linebacker- again curiously given they just re-signed Kendricks, just drafted Gedeon last year, and Barr is a first-round pick and Pro-Bowler- they’ve shown a lot of interest in Lorenzo Carter and Uchenna Nwosu- both of which would likely be higher round picks. They’ve also shown a lot of interest in Jack Cinchy, who would be a mid- to later round pick. Spielman was asked if he had the money to sign Barr, Hunter and Diggs- and he replied that Rob (Brzezinski) said he did. We’ll see what happens. But it seems like if they don’t re-sign all three of those key players, the odd man out would likely be Anthony Barr. Maybe that would be a cap casualty, maybe that would be a ‘coasting’ casualty. Maybe they end up re-signing all of those players. But given the prospects the Vikings have shown the most interest in, it would appear Barr has the least amount of job security among starting LBs.
At tight-end, the Vikings have looked at Dallas Goedert as a possible high pick, but I’m not sure if he, and any number of the other prospects mentioned, were on the board with either their first or second pick, that Goedert would be highest on their board. He certainly looks like he could be a solid replacement for Kyle Rudolph at some point, but unless Spielman manufactures more 2nd round picks this week, it would seem unlikely that he’ll be a Viking.
How Bold Will Spielman Be?
At the end of the day, most of the Vikings starting roster is pretty well set for the coming year. You could argue that allows Spielman to be more bold in filling out the remaining few positions of need. You could also argue that with a pretty solid roster, Spielman can be patient and deliberate, let the draft come to him, and take advantage of teams with more urgency getting a particular player or filling a particular position. Sometimes the latter comes across as bold, when in fact it is simply taking advantage of a good situation that falls into your lap.
My guess is that Spielman begins with the latter strategy, but for the right player will employ the former. He may also deploy a wider range of capital than he has in the past, if the right deal comes along. We’ll see. The one thing we do know is that Rick Spielman is not afraid to wheel and deal during the course of the draft, and I doubt he’ll be content to stick with the picks he has this time either.
How Many Trades Will Rick Spielman Make in This Year’s Draft?
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