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Reports: Vikings draft trade focus is on Pats and Cards, with Maye or McCarthy the targets

The Vikings' quest for a franchise quarterback has reportedly come down to two paths.
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The Minnesota Vikings are reportedly focused on trading into the top five of this year's draft as they put a plan to draft their franchise quarterback into motion.

According to ESPN's Matt Miller and Dan Graziano, there is "buzz" surrounding the "rumor" that the Vikings will package their 11th overall pick and the 23rd overall pick that was acquired in Friday's trade with the Houston Texans to move into the top five selections and draft either North Carolina's Drake Maye or Michigan's J.J. McCarthy.

"There is considerable buzz about Minnesota trying to move into the top five to secure a quarterback such as McCarthy or potentially Maye/[Jayden Daniels] if either falls past New England," Miller wrote. "With two first-round picks, the Vikings now own the draft capital to fly up the board for a quarterback."

Graziano also noted that the Vikings acquisition of a second first-round pick has meant the race to grab the fourth quarterback off the board has "heated up" and the deal gives them an advantage over any other team trying to trade up, most notably the Denver Broncos, who own the 12th overall pick.

"The [Denver] Broncos simply can't compete with the Vikings' draft capital in the 2024 class and would have to blow a team away with 2025 and/or 2026 picks in any attempt to trade up," Graziano said. "The better move for Denver may be trying to trade down the board and recoup draft picks and select Oregon's Bo Nix somewhere lower in the order."

While the Vikings are leading the race to the top of the draft, it's a question as to who they will trade with. The first selection of the draft became clearer when the Chicago Bears traded Justin Fields to the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for a conditional sixth-round pick, unofficially signaling they will take Caleb Williams first overall.

The Washington Commanders also tipped their hand over the weekend after trading Sam Howell to the Seattle Seahawks. While it is unclear who the Commanders will take with the second overall pick, all signs are pointing toward a quarterback.

Pro Football Focus's Jackson McIntire reported on Saturday that Washington is assumed to be keeping the second overall pick and that trade discussions so far have centered around the third overall pick, which belongs to the New England Patriots.

Miller added that the "rumor" around the league is that the Vikings are trading up to the fourth overall pick, which belongs to the Arizona Cardinals, whom McIntire says the Vikings have had trade talks "to a lesser degree" in the past couple of days.

This creates a scenario that could be determined by how the draft shakes out. Sportskeeda's Tony Pauline reported that the Patriots could trade down from the third overall spot if Jayden Daniels isn't available, which could lead the Vikings to a path to land Maye.

"I have heard further that several scouts from the Patriots organization are not fans of Maye, who really struggled down the stretch of the season," Pauline wrote. "The fact that several people mentioned in conversation, not all, are sold on Maye makes this significant."

If Maye goes to the Commanders with the second overall pick or that report is just "smoke" designed to throw other teams off the Patriots' opinion of Maye, the Vikings could still trade up with the Cardinals and land McCarthy.

The Michigan quarterback is a polarizing prospect after throwing for 2,991 yards and 22 touchdowns on the way to leading the Wolverines to the national championship last season, but Graziano noted that McCarthy has a lot of support from front offices around the league and could be a top-10 pick in this year's draft.

"I think teams are higher on McCarthy than a lot of people on the outside think and I wouldn't be surprised to see him picked in the top 10," Graziano wrote after the scouting combine.

It leads to a few paths for the Vikings to get their quarterback of the future and an exciting month for fans who will see which direction Minnesota takes to replace Kirk Cousins.