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The latest rumors on the how top of the NFL Draft could go

The top four picks continue to be up in the air as the Vikings eye a quarterback.
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The Minnesota Vikings sent shockwaves through the NFL Draft process when they acquired a second first-round pick in a trade with the Houston Texans on Friday morning.

The deal signals a desire to trade up to select a quarterback in next month's draft but there are a few questions left before fans can stitch "MAYE" or "MCCARTHY" onto a purple jersey. 

The top four picks continue to be fluid with just over a month until the draft and speculation has run wild over which quarterback could be available and what teams could be interested in making another deal with the Vikings.

NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah believes the Vikings may have a deal worked out with the Arizona Cardinals for the fourth overall pick but could try to trade with Washington, who has the second overall pick, or New England, who is set to select third overall.

"It feels to me like you have a for sure landing spot," Jeremiah said on The Zach Gelb Show on CBS Sports Network. "Maybe let's assume that's [No. 4] with the Cardinals. So that's the floor and you say 'OK, we're going to effort and try like crazy and see if we can't get Washington or New England to bite. But if we don't get them to bite, we have a deal at four.'"

Getting to the fourth overall pick has its perks as it would guarantee them the opportunity to select one of the top four prospects, but the top of the draft could also decide what the Vikings do. 

According to the NFL Mock Draft Database's consensus mock draft, the database shows 98% of mocks have the Chicago Bears selecting Caleb Williams with the first overall pick.

The Bears have reportedly been shopping incumbent quarterback Justin Fields to try to make room for Williams but have yet to find a suitor. But Dan Patrick of NBC Sports believes the Bears could keep Fields and try to showcase him before making a deal at next year's trade deadline.

"If I'm Chicago, I don't have to do anything," Patrick said on The Dan Patrick Show on Friday. "...It's not the worst-case scenario. What if Caleb struggles and Justin Fields comes in and plays well? Maybe somebody will trade for him before the trade deadline."

If the Bears select Williams, it turns the attention to what the Commanders would do with the second overall pick. Washington dealt its former starting quarterback, Sam Howell, to the Seattle Seahawks on Friday and could have the choice between LSU's Jayden Daniels, North Carolina's Drake Maye or MIchigan's J.J. McCarthy. 

Jeremiah noted that the Howell trade made him "perk up a bit" because Howell and Maye, who are best friends, didn't want to compete against each other for a starting job. But he also mentioned that the situation is fluid with just over a month before the draft.

"I think with both of those guys, I wake up one day and I tell you one thing and I wake up another day and tell you another," Jeremiah said. "To me, it's about trying to find the fit."

While Daniels seems to have jumped Maye in the consensus mock draft, both players are in play. According to a scout that Patrick knows who was at the combine, concerns that have made Maye drop in recent mocks are overblown and could lead him to be selected by the Commanders with the second overall pick.

"I'm sticking by Drake Maye, who for some reason seems to be falling, getting picked apart on for minor flaws," Patrick said, recalling what his source told him. "None of these quarterbacks are perfect. [It's] typical pre-draft nonsense. He will be a great pro. Big, smart, accurate arm talent to drive the ball or throw with pace and touch and will thrive inside and outside of the pocket. [He's] naturally athletic and poised. Very impressive in one-on-one interviews and understanding football. A leader, competitor and perhaps will fall to New England."

All signs point to the decision coming down to Maye or Daniels, but Jeremiah also believes the Commanders could make the second overall pick available if the Vikings give up a large haul of picks. If Maye slips past the Commanders and Minnesota doesn't trade up, things could get interesting in New England.

Jeremiah believes that New England is "stuck" on taking a quarterback with the third pick but Patrick isn't sold that Maye would be the selection if he is still available.

"I don't know if New England is going to take him at three," Patrick said. "If you're sold on him, then absolutely. It just feels like Jayden Daniels and Caleb Williams have separated themselves. ...J.J. McCarthy is getting a lot of attention. ... If he didn't have the injuries, Michael Penix might be in that conversation. ... But these are just some of the things that my source gleaned from the combine. He thought that there's almost this campaign to bring Drake Maye down a little bit."

If Maye slips to fourth and the Vikings have a deal in place with the Cardinals, it might be the best-case scenario for a team that hired his former high school coach Josh McCown as their quarterback coach last month.

The Vikings could also make a deal to move up for McCarthy, who spoke glowingly about his meeting with the Vikings at the scouting combine and may have the most upside of the quarterbacks in this draft after turning 21 in January.

But there's also a chance the Vikings do not have a deal in place and no team will be willing to facilitate a trade up. The Athletic's Dianna Russini and Alec Lewis reported that Friday's trade may have provided the Vikings insurance and could help them fill some of the other needs on the roster.

"This move also provides a layer of insurance," Russini and Lewis wrote. "The Vikings have a bunch of needs. Defensive line and cornerback are some of them. In the event Minnesota cannot trade up to a spot, it feels is apt to get its preferred quarterback, it now has two premium selections to fill necessary holes."

This logic backs up Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah's statement that Minnesota isn't "locked in" to drafting a quarterback in this class but also would be overkill for a team looking to replace Kirk Cousins at quarterback.

Whatever Minnesota decides to do, there will be plenty of speculation and it could come down to the wire to see who becomes the Vikings' quarterback of the future.

Drake Maye