The NFL Draft begins at 7pm CT, and the rumor mill is running full tilt in advance of an event that will likely draw more viewers than a championship game in any other sport.
I did a synopsis of the teams picking ahead of the Vikings yesterday, and despite some news (Carolina trading Teddy Bridgewater to Denver) and more rumors, I don’t think that changes anything materially from the Vikings’ perspective- same players drafted, different order perhaps. I do think it’s increasingly likely that New England and Washington, and possibly the Bears, will make offers to trade with the Lions and Panthers for QBs Fields and Lance, if available. The Lions especially look like they’ll embrace the rebuild, trading down for more draft capital. The Patriots have the draft capital this year to package in a move up, which would likely include their 2nd round pick and perhaps a couple others, along with #15. New England has the inside track in terms of draft capital this year, and it’s unclear if the Bears ownership wants to spend future draft capital with the current regime in place. Washington may prefer Lance to Fields, and so if New England trades up with the Lions for Fields, WFT could make an offer to Carolina for Lance. Rumor is that Carolina is higher on Fields than Lance, and is interested in trading down if they don’t take a quarterback at #8.
Also, it was reported that the Lions had previously attempted to trade up to #4 with Atlanta for Ja’Marr Chase, but the asking price was too high. That would seem to indicate that the Bengals will likely take Chase at #5, rather than Penei Sewell. At least the Lions would appear to think so. And the rumor is that Miami will draft WR Davonta Smith if Ja’marr Chase is not available. That means OT Penei Sewell will likely slip all the way to the Giants at #11, if the Broncos go with LB Micah Parsons (Vic Fangio likes him) instead of a QB. If Parsons is off the board, the Giants will likely draft Sewell, although Kwity Paye apparently is high on their board as well. I’m also reading now that the Chargers, despite Justin Herbert’s appeal, actually prefer Rashawn Slater to Sewell, so I expect if he’s there at #13, Slater will be the Chargers pick over Christian Darrisaw as well. This last rumor would change things for the Vikings, as I doubt they’ll be able to trade up, even if they wanted to.
Beyond that, WR Jaylen Waddle could end up falling to the Eagles, who could take him or CB Jaycee Horn. Eagles GM Howie Roseman could auction his #12 pick between the Vikings and Chargers, if both were willing to pay up to draft Rashawn Slater, and still get one of those two players. I don’t think the Vikings would win that auction, if they chose to participate. The Eagles need a CB more than WR, but Waddle may be ranked higher than Horn, so hard to know which way they’ll go. I’ll say CB on the strength that CB drops off more than WR by the 2nd round. Eagles could choose to trade back further, however, with a team like the Cardinals, who may put aside a CB if Waddle is available at #12. Raiders could be interested too.
Vikings at #14
If the draft unfolded that way, it would make it less likely the Vikings select an offensive lineman at #14. Christian Darrisaw would still be there, and so would Alijah Vera-Tucker. The Vikings did not attend Darrisaw’s pro day, perhaps because they prefer a guard to a tackle. Spielman was there for AVT’s pro day, and also for Jaelan Phillips’ pro day in Miami.
In terms of position value, DE or edge rusher is a premium position, and guard is not. That’s important as first-round draft picks have the 5th year option on their contract. So, if it came down to AVT and Phillips, I suspect the Vikings will draft Phillips at #14, although there is the possibility of a trade down.
Trade Down Possible
There could be some potential partners for the Vikings to trade down with, however. Let me preface that by looking at the teams picking immediately behind the Vikings, and what position they may target with their pick:
#15: New England Patriots: If not a trade up for QB, CB is the most likely pick, RT a possibility too, along with a trade down. However, if they trade up with Detroit, the Lions reportedly are interested in Jaelan Phillips, although it would seem CB remains a bigger priority looking at their roster, along with linebacker and right tackle.
#16: Arizona Cardinals: CB is the most likely pick.
#17: Las Vegas Raiders: RT (Teven Jenkins) or LB.
#18: Miami Dolphins: Rumor is they may go RB here, or OL/WR depending on first pick. LB possible too.
#19: Washington FT: Trade up for Trey Lance possible if he’s on the board at #7 or #8. Panthers need CB and OL, among other positions. LT would be a priority for WFT if they don’t move up.
#20: Chicago Bears: Could move up for a QB or back, CB a need, OL too.
#21: Indianapolis Colts: CB or possibly DE- Jayson Oweh. Colts owner Jim Irsay has been talking about CB several times, and reportedly the Colts are looking hard at that position.
#22: Tennessee Titans: OT
#23: New York Jets: DE possible. RB possible too.
#24: Pittsburgh Steelers: RB Najee Harris or LB Zavon Collins.
#25: Jacksonville Jaguars: OT, DL, WR, RB.
#26: Cleveland Browns: WR, DE, CB.
#27: Baltimore Ravens: OT, WR, trade down.
#28: One other rumor that’s surfaced is that the Saints want to move up for Caleb Farley. Saints GM Mickey Loomis in no stranger to moving up- last year he moved up with the Vikings in the third round and traded the rest of his draft to do so. He also moved up a couple years ago with the Packers from the late to mid first round for Marcus Davenport, so he’s not afraid to move up at substantial cost. He’s also said he doesn’t have a lot of holes in his roster, which implies he doesn’t think he needs a lot of picks this year.
#29: Green Bay Packers: WR, OL, move up.
#30: Buffalo Bills: RB Travis Etienne, could possibly trade up for him.
#31: Baltimore Ravens: OT, WR, trade down.
#32: Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB, CB, DE.
The main point here is that there are a number of teams that need a cornerback or offensive lineman picking immediately behind the Vikings, and with cornerbacks in particular, there are likely to be only two remaining with a first round grade: Caleb Farley and Greg Newsome II, and possibly Jaycee Horn as well. That could create a market for the Vikings #14 pick, with teams wanting to jump ahead of the Patriots/Lions and Cardinals for the cornerback they covet, or potentially for a OT like Darrisaw, or Waddle if the Eagles don’t take him or trade down.
The tricky aspect of a trade down for the Vikings is how far could they trade down and still get their guy, whoever that may be. If the Vikings still wanted to draft Jaelan Phillips, for example, assuming he’s still there at #14, they’d have to be sure the Lions, if they trade down with the Patriots, wouldn’t take Phillips. The Phillips rumor could just be misinformation, as honestly edge rusher is probably the strongest position group on the Lions entire roster. If the Vikings were confident the Lions would address needs elsewhere, they could trade down as far as #21 or #22. If the Colts wanted to trade up, they could then ask for who, and if it was a CB, then fine, if Phillips, no can do.
Trading back 3-8 spots, if they felt they could get away with it and still get their guy, could pick up what they need to move well into the 2nd round, or a 2nd round pick, without sacrificing both of their current 3rd round picks to do so. This could yield them a starting offensive lineman. If the Dolphins wanted Darrisaw, the Vikings could trade back to #18 for their 3rd round #185 and change, for example, which could give them needed Day Two draft capital, including enough to trade back into the second round.
Day Two Trades Possible Too
If a trade down in the first-round doesn’t pan out, or even if it does, another option for trading back into the second round, if necessary, is the Seattle Seahawks. They’re a ready-made trade partner with their #56 pick in the 2nd round. The Seahawks have only 3 picks in this draft and want to trade down for more picks, as they almost always do. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rick Spielman has already got at least a tentative deal in place with the Seahawks, which could be swapping both the Vikings #78 & #90 for the Seahawks #56, which just so happens to align perfectly with the Jimmy Johnson value chart. Other combinations are possible too.
Quarterback deals in the top ten picks could prove to be the big news of Day One, and if all five go in the top ten, as expected at this point, there will be some top players falling into the mid-round. For the Vikings, not sure a trade up or down will happen, but down seems more likely if they do trade. My sense is they go defensive end, rather than OL, figuring they’ll get their OL with their next pick.
Who will the Vikings take with their first draft pick?
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