I did a “realistic” mock draft for the Vikings a couple days ago in anticipation of the NFL draft at the end of the month, but I didn’t include any trades in that mock draft to keep it simple. But the reality is that Rick Spielman has made more trades while the draft is in-progress than any other team or GM in the league since he became the Vikings GM in 2012, so a more realistic draft scenario for the Vikings would include at least one, if not multiple trades.
Additionally, the Vikings are a little short on salary-cap space to sign all of their current draft picks, and they’ve been looking to trade both Trae Waynes and Everson Griffen this spring, so that could mean some trades during the draft this year.
Of course it’s very difficult to predict any trade, big or small, but there are some trades that make some sense based on team needs, draft capital, salary cap space, this year’s draft class, and scheme fit that could be beneficial to both sides.
Let’s take a look at some of these scenarios.
Trae Waynes to Kansas City Chiefs
While Holton Hill’s suspension creates less urgency for a Trae Waynes trade, the fact remains that the Vikings need to raise salary cap space and would be unlikely to afford extending Trae Waynes when his rookie deal expires at the end of this year. The Vikings also invested a first-round pick in Mike Hughes last year, and provided he recovers on schedule from his ACL injury, he could take over the starting job if Waynes was traded and while Holton Hill is suspended.
For the Chiefs, they have a big need for a starting cornerback and this year’s draft class at cornerback is pretty thin. If they’re able to snag an edge rusher with their late first-round pick, there won’t be much at CB by the end of the second round.
On the other hand, Trae Waynes is both entering his prime and available for trade. The Chiefs can accommodate Waynes $9 million salary cap figure, and would get a player that can handle starting duties at an above-average or better level now - not in 2-3 years as is often the case with rookie corners.
Waynes has been excellent in run support, tackling, and in man coverage according to PFF, with run support and tackling grades in the mid-80s, and man coverage passer rating allowed of 68 last season.
I suspect the Vikings would be willing to let Waynes go for one of the Chiefs’ two late 2nd round picks (one of which they got for Marcus Peters) and perhaps their 5th round pick as well. There has been some discussion on the Chiefs side as well about this trade.
First-Round Trade Down Scenarios
If the Vikings felt they could get a decent starting offensive lineman, or even the same guy they would take at #18, they may choose to move down in the first round if a trading partner emerged.
Not many teams like to pay the premium to move up in the first round, so there would need to be a compelling reason for them to do so, and another to trade specifically with the Vikings and not the Giants at #17 or Titans at #19, for example.
One scenario that could present a trade opportunity for the Vikings is if a coveted edge rusher were to be available at #18. The Titans, Steelers, Seahawks and Ravens all have a need for an edge rusher. So do the Eagles, Raiders, Chiefs and Patriots. So, if there’s only one top-tier edge rusher left at #18, somebody may be motivated to move up. Could be only a few spots, could be 10 or 12, and the compensation could range from a 4th round to a 2nd round pick, depending on how far back the Vikings would have to pick.
The Titans, picking just after the Vikings, are also in need of a WR and TE. So, if a guy like D.K. Metcalf or one of the Iowa tight-ends were available (and the Vikings were willing to forgo them) a team with needs in those positions trading behind the Vikings- like the Patriots, Texans, Packers, Seahawks, Steelers, or Ravens - might feel it worthwhile to move up.
I don’t see a compelling, realistic situation where the Vikings would move up in the first-round.
Everson Griffen Trade Scenarios
The Vikings reportedly tried to trade Everson Griffen last month to the Browns, but that deal fell through and the Vikings restructured Griffen’s deal instead. But that doesn’t preclude the Vikings from trading Griffen at some point in the future.
The Raiders, even presuming they draft an edge rusher with their first pick, still could use another one.
And once again the Chiefs, switching to a 4-3 front, could still use another DE, and as a leading contender in the AFC, may be willing to make a ‘win-now’ move to get a veteran presence - particularly if all the top-tier edge rushers are gone by their #29 pick - increasingly likely.
I’m not sure the compensation, but could be a late 3rd round pick?
Moving Up in the Second Round
Another possibility, particularly if none of the above happens, is that the Vikings could move up in the second round if a particular player is there - like they did a couple years ago when Dalvin Cook fell into the second round.
The most likely target this year would be DT Jeffrey Simmons, who some grade about as highly as Quinnen Williams in terms of on-field talent. But Simmons is rehabbing from an ACL that will likely cut into his rookie year availability and has an off-field incident. Right now Simmons may not be ready to play in a real game until November, so that has to weigh on his draft stock. If he’s not able to take part in off-season and training camp, that could delay his availability as well - and he could end up missing all of his rookie year. That may also weigh on the Vikings’ wanting to move up for him.
But there could be another surprise - a player the Vikings would like but didn’t think would be available in the second round, or a more pedestrian move of just a few spots if maybe another starting offensive linemen or defensive tackle they want slips far enough back.
Moving Back in the Third and/or Fourth Round
Depending on how the draft falls in the mid-rounds, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Vikings move back a few spots one or more times (as they’ve often done in the past) to accumulate some Day 3 picks.
One potential trade partner here may be the New York Giants. The Giants have 12 picks this year, and it would seem unlikely they’ll actually make that many. One scenario would be for the Giants to trade up 14 spots with the Vikings in the 3rd round, giving two 5th round picks as compensation (#142 and #143), should a player they covet be available there and if the Vikings feel they can gain more by making the trade.
That trade would give Spielman all the draft capital he needs to move around on Day 3 as he pleases, have a 4th, two 5ths, a 6th and two 7ths as capital.
Moving Around on Day 3
The Vikings have a number of players they’ve met with and may be targeting on Day 3, and so having the draft capital to move around by acquiring some added draft capital (as above) could be beneficial in being able to hit their targets on Day 3.
Guys like Donnell Greene, Lamont Gaillard, Nate Davis, or Tytus Howard are some possible offensive linemen targets. Jalen Hurd, Devine Ozigbo and Jeff Smith are some offensive skill position players the Vikings may target. And tight ends like Josh Oliver or Andrew Beck.
They could also draft a kicker again. Or a CB like Derrick Baity. The list goes on.
Rick Spielman has made more trades during the draft than any other team or GM since he’s become the Vikings GM in 2012. Most of those have been garden-variety - trading back a few spots for an extra Day 3 pick, or up a few in exchange for the same.
Circumstances this year, however, may result in one or more bigger trades. Trades for Trae Waynes and/or Everson Griffen could be a part of this year’s draft - and either could yield a Day 2 draft pick.
And by the end of Day 3, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Vikings make a total of 10 picks.
How many trades will the Vikings make during this year’s draft
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