Breaking Down ESPN's Two Hypothetical Draft-Day Trades for the Vikings
In the peak of mock draft season, ESPN's Bill Barnwell has taken an entirely different approach to the concept. Instead of projecting college players to each team, Barnwell went through all 32 picks and came up with a hypothetical trade involving or centered around each pick.
The article included everything from standard pick-for-pick trades to wild blockbusters involving high-profile NFL players. One example is the Cowboys trading Dak Prescott and a third-round pick to move up from No. 17 to No. 5 overall.
The Vikings have two picks in the first round, so they get two hypothetical trades from Barnwell. Let's take a look at both and see if they make sense from Minnesota's perspective (spoiler: I think they do).
Trade No. 1: Three-team blockbuster involving Trent Williams and Anthony Harris
In this wild deal, the Vikings trade Harris, Reiff, the 22nd pick, and their fourth-round pick for Williams, King, the 37th pick and a 2021 fourth-rounder. Essentially, they have to move back 15 spots to swap Harris and Reiff for Williams and King.
Here's Barnwell's explanation:
The Vikings have spent the past decade unsatisfied with their left tackle options, and while Reiff has been passable during his three seasons with the team, they weren't thrilled with what they saw from him in 2019. Williams would be an enormous upgrade for Minnesota, although it would need to find the money to give the seven-time Pro Bowler a new contract. Trading away Reiff and Harris, who was given the franchise tag last month, gets the Vikings the room they need.
The Vikings get Williams and a valuable slot cornerback in King, whose role in the starting lineup is murky after the Chargers signed Chris Harris Jr. They could still address cornerback and wide receiver with their picks at Nos. 25, 37 and 58. Washington fans probably aren't thrilled with this return for their star left tackle, but the market they were hoping to see for Williams hasn't developed.
Is it a good deal for the Vikings?
I think it is. Losing Harris hurts, but moving back from 22 to 37 in this year's deep draft isn't too painful. Landing Williams and King – especially Williams – makes this one worth it for the Vikings. There are those who point out Williams' age and injury history, but if he's ready to go, he'd be the best left tackle the Vikings have had in ages.
Williams is a truly dominant, game-changing force at one of the sport's most important positions. Reuniting him with Kirk Cousins would do so much for Cousins, who needs good pass protection to play up to his full potential. As for the age concern, Williams plays a position where guys like Andrew Whitworth and Jason Peters have been successful deep into their 30s. He also should be fresh after over a year away from the game. There's risk, but the potential reward is immense.
King is also an important part of the deal. The 2017 fifth-round pick from Iowa is an excellent slot cornerback and punt returner who could fill the shoes of Mackensie Alexander and Marcus Sherels in those two roles. King received elite grades from PFF in 2017 and 2018. After the 2018 season, he was named a first team All-Pro at both defensive back and punt returner. In just three seasons, King has four interceptions, 6.5 sacks, and four touchdowns (two INT returns, two punt returns).
With every hypothetical deal, it's important to consider the financials. Trading Harris and Reiff would clear up roughly $20 million in cap space for the Vikings, giving them around $28 million to work with on the 2020 cap after factoring in the money needed to sign their draft picks. Williams and King are both free agents after next season, so the Vikings would look to work out new deals with both. Even if Williams gets $15-17 million per year and King gets $8-9 million annually, the Vikings would have room, though it could complicate the Dalvin Cook situation.
If this trade happened, the Vikings would have to decide whether to keep King at nickel corner or move him to safety, which was his position when he won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's best college DB in 2015. King led all Power 5 players with eight interceptions that year. If he moved back to safety, the Vikings would have their Harris replacement. If not, they could look to draft someone like Antoine Winfield Jr. with the 37th pick.
Here's a hypothetical first three picks for the Vikings in the latter scenario.
- 1-25: AJ Terrell, CB, Clemson
- 2-37: Antoine Winfield Jr., S, Minnesota
- 2-58: KJ Hamler, WR, Penn State
All of a sudden, the Vikings' secondary has Harrison Smith and Winfield at safety, Mike Hughes and Terrell at outside corner, and King in the slot. And the offensive line has Trent Williams. I'd say that works.
Trade No. 2: Vikings land Curtis Samuel
In Barnwell's second trade for the Vikings, he has them moving back 13 spots to snag Samuel as a Stefon Diggs replacement. The Vikings also move up 19 spots in the fourth round. Barnwell made a point of noting that all of these trades happen in separate universes, so this should be considered independent of the previous trade.
If the Vikings use the No. 22 pick to add a cornerback, this could be a way for them to add a wide receiver capable of making a more immediate impact than a draft pick. Samuel struggled to stay healthy during his first two seasons in the league and didn't always get to show what he could do with Kyle Allen under center in 2019, but he has flashed potential at times as an explosive receiver who can threaten teams with his versatility and ability with the ball in his hands.
Is it a good deal for the Vikings?
Absolutely. I don't think the Panthers would do it, which tells you something about the value from the Vikings' perspective. Moving back 13 spots in a deep draft and adding a fourth-year receiver who can help right away is a win in my eyes.
The key to this would be whether or not the Vikings think Samuel can continue to improve as a receiver. He was the 40th overall pick in 2017 as a hybrid running back/receiver out of Ohio State. As a junior, Samuel ran for 771 yards and eight touchdowns while catching 74 passes for 865 yards and seven more scores.
Samuel's pro career got off to a slow start, but he has seen his production increase in each of his three professional seasons. His rookie year was cut short because of an ankle injury after he had posted just 179 yards from scrimmage in nine games. In his second season, Samuel's numbers improved to 578 yards and seven touchdowns. Last year, he had 757 yards and seven more touchdowns. The 5-foot-11 Samuel ran a 4.31 40 at the 2017 combine, and his elite speed and YAC ability is one of his main selling points.
Samuel still needs to become a more complete receiver. Route-running was a concern coming out of college as he transitioned from H-back to receiver, and he caught just 54 of 105 targets last season. However, Cousins would be clearly the best quarterback Samuel has had. He played with Kyle Allen last season and with the heavily banged-up version of Cam Newton before that.
Like King, Samuel is a free agent in 2021, so the Vikings would need to find a way to pay him. However, he shouldn't break the bank considering his production up to this point of his NFL career.
This trade would give the Vikings a speedy big-play threat who can help replace Diggs with more of an immediate impact than someone like Denzel Mims or Jalen Reagor would make if they were taken at No. 25. They'd still have picks 22, 38, and 58 to address the offensive line and secondary, and would move up almost 20 slots in round four. That sounds like a good trade to me.
Would you do either of these trades? Join the conversation at InsideTheVikings by clicking the follow button in the upper right-hand corner of this page, or let me know @WillRagatz on Twitter.