It’s three weeks until the NFL Draft, and Vikings’ GM Rick Spielman is likely busy building up the Vikings’ draft board, going through player evaluations with coaches and scouts, and doing whatever due diligence can be accomplished without the benefit of having player visits and workouts. Normally this would be the time for the Vikings Top 30 event, where they host their top prospects and conduct more workouts and interviews. But not this year with the coronavirus precautions in place.
Spielman and his staff will have also been canvassing the league and comparing notes, among other things, to get a sense of which prospects may go where, what positions may be a priority for teams, and how supply and demand may work in determining how the draft may play out. He’ll also go through any number of draft scenarios so he’s got contingencies in place for them.
Trader Rick and his staff have also likely been in touch with other GMs around the league, gauging trade interest for potential moves up or down, under what circumstances, and what it may take in compensation to get a deal done if need be.
Identifying trade partners and having preliminary discussions and negotiations around particular trades is essential ground work if any deal is going to get done in the five minutes or less when teams are on the clock and have to make their pick, or make a trade. And this year with teams likely to be working remotely, having all the groundwork in place for potential trades is even more essential if any deals are to be accomplished before time runs out.
Of course some teams may be more willing partners than others, but for most teams it may come down to the last minute, and if a particular player is picked, or not picked, which suddenly compels a trade scenario.
Many of those trades are hard to predict, but some others are a bit easier, just by examining team needs and so forth, and in some cases stated intentions- although there is always pre-draft posturing and the associated smoke and mirrors.
Be that as it may, let’s take a look at some potential trades that make sense for both sides, given team needs and other considerations, and what it may take to get a deal done. I’ve used the Rich Hill updated version of Jimmy Johnson’s trade value chart for most of the deals.
Blockbuster Deal with the Redskins
The Vikings have been in touch with the Redskins regarding a trade for Trent Williams, and that leads to a bigger deal. The Vikings are in win now mode, while the Redskins and new head coach Ron Rivera are in rebuilding mode. The Redskins have way more needs than their second overall pick can fill, while the Vikings have a lot of draft capital to work with after the Stefon Diggs trade.
So, despite working from home, Spielman decides to go big - sending both this year’s first round picks, #22 and #25, and next year’s first-round & third-round pick, along with his third round compensatory pick #105 and Riley Reiff, for the #2 overall pick and left tackle Trent Williams. The Vikings select Ohio State defensive end Chase Young.
The Redskins get the draft capital Ron Rivera needs to jump start his rebuilding effort, and end the Trent Williams drama without creating another hole to fill. The Vikings upgrade two key positions with Pro Bowl caliber impact players - and suddenly have perhaps the best set of edge rushers in the league for years to come. All this while keeping two Day 2 picks to add a WR and CB, in addition to a slew of Day 3 picks.
The Redskins go with the Vikings offer over staying pat and lesser deals to get more substantial draft capital, which they use to fill more holes in their roster. They take a bit of a discount to get the deal done, but feel it’s worth it because in addition to jump starting their rebuild, it also gives them crucial draft capital to move up next year if need be for Trevor Lawrence if Dwayne Haskins doesn’t work out. But they may have the #1 pick anyway, and looking to amass as many top draft picks as possible to build out the team around him. The Vikings are one of only four teams (Raiders, Jags & Dolphins) with the immediate draft capital to do such a deal. Moving up for the other teams to get Chase Young or another prime pick doesn’t make sense, given their needs.
Trade Back with the Colts
The Colts, sensing the Patriots may take a QB at #23, make a move with the Vikings to get their man to take over from Philip Rivers next season - possibly Jordan Love. To swing the deal, the Colts give up their #34 pick at the top of the second round, and swap picks in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th rounds: their #44 for the Vikings’ #58, their #75 for the Vikings’ #105, and their #122 for the Vikings’ #132.
The Colts get their QBOTF, while the Vikings improve their position and maneuverability in the next three rounds, which helps them substantially in their quest to fill other key positional needs, with five picks between #25 and #89.
Trade Up & Down with the 49ers
The 49ers have two first-round picks, but nothing after that until the 5th round. As a result, they’re open to trading back with their first-round picks to accumulate some mid-round draft capital.
The Vikings covet a player they don’t see making it to #22, or even much past the 49ers at #13, so they make a deal to move up: The Vikings trade #22 and 3rd round pick #89, and swap #25 for the 49ers #31, in exchange for the 49ers #13, and their 7th round pick #217.
The Vikings get their man, who could be someone like Javon Kinlaw or Derrick Brown, or possibly an offensive lineman, cornerback or a wide receiver.
Trade Back with the Chargers
Both the Chargers and Dolphins select new QBs with their top picks in the first round, and both teams need left tackles to protect them. The Chargers, however, are watching the top tackles go off the board and decide to make a move ahead of the Dolphins at #26 to get their left tackle. They make a deal with the Vikings, sending their #37 & #71 for the Vikings’ #25.
The Vikings are still able to get a top player at #22, but opt for two picks to better help replenish the defensive secondary and add a top wide receiver in the 2nd and 3rd rounds.
Trade Up with the Bengals in the 3rd Round
The Bengals have their full compliment of #1 draft picks for each round, but considering their myriad of needs after having secured Joe Burrow at #1 overall, they opt to trade back in the 3rd round with the Vikings, who offer both of their third round picks, #89 & #105, for their pick #65 to start the 3rd round - potentially securing a prospect who falls surprisingly out of the 2nd round.
Some Lesser Trade Possibilities
Of course there are any number of lesser trades that Rick Spielman can, and usually does, complete over the course the mid-to-late rounds of the draft. Here are a few possibilities that stand out for one reason or another.
Trade Down with Patriots in the 5th Round
The Patriots have four 6th round picks, and opt to move up in the 5th round for one of them, exchanging #172 for #155, and providing the Vikings with pick #212 in compensation.
Rams Trade for Pat Elflein
The Rams need interior line help even more than the Vikings, and are willing to trade back five spots in the third round in exchange for Pat Elflein, who comes from a similar scheme and could compete at either guard or center. The Rams can barely afford Elflein’s $2 million salary cap, but I’m guessing they’ll be forced to restructure a contract or cut someone else to give them more salary cap breathing room in any case.
But with no salary cap to work with, and not much in draft capital either, the Rams are in a bad place to do anything to improve their roster. Elflein may be the best they can do to improve their interior offensive line right now.
Falcons Trade Back in Second Round
The Vikings decide they need to trade up in the 2nd to get their guy, and the Falcons could use more later round picks to fill lesser needs, so they agree to trade their #47 for the Vikings #58 and #105.
Rick Spielman has a lot of draft capital to work with this year, and is the most prolific GM in the league since he joined the Vikings when it comes to making trades during the draft. Most of them are garden variety trades - moving up or back only a few spots. But he’s not afraid of making bigger deals too.
So, by the end of Day 3 of the draft, don’t be surprised if the Vikings have been involved in more trades than any other team in the league.
Which of the bigger trades listed above would you be most likely to do?
This poll is closed
Blockbuster deal with the Redskins
Trade Back with the Colts
Trade Up and Down with the 49ers
Trade Back with the Chargers
Trade Up with the Bengals in 3rd Round
None of the Above
Both the Colts and Chargers Trades