Four Realistic "Trade Up" Partners for the Vikings in the First Round of the NFL Draft
In my most recent seven-round Vikings mock draft, I had Rick Spielman and the Vikings trade up to the No. 15 pick to snag Alabama tackle Jedrick Wills, who was sliding past his projected draft range. The Vikings sent picks No. 22, 89, and 155 to the Broncos to complete the deal, which graded out pretty fairly on the Rich Hill trade value chart.
On paper, it was a reasonable move for both sides. But after further reflection, there's an issue with the move: Denver appears to be highly unlikely to trade back. In fact, a recent report from SI's Albert Breer indicated that the Broncos are looking to trade up for an offensive tackle. They have also been frequently linked to the top three receivers in the draft as they search for a complement to Courtland Sutton. The fact that the Broncos possess a second-round pick and three third-rounders is yet another reason why they seem unlikely to trade down from No. 15.
If Spielman wants to utilize his deep stable of picks to move up for someone he covets, he'll most likely have to look elsewhere. Here are four teams picking ahead of the Vikings who make sense as realistic trade partners.
San Francisco 49ers (pick No. 13)
Potential trade: The Vikings send picks 25, 58, and 155 to the 49ers for pick 13.
This figures to be around the furthest the Vikings would go if they were to move up in the first round, simply because of how much it would cost to get any higher. The Raiders at No. 12 could be a possibility (more on them shortly), but they seem primed to take CeeDee Lamb, Henry Ruggs, or Jerry Jeudy with that pick.
The 49ers make a lot of sense as a trade partner if the Vikings wanted to make a major move upwards. The defending NFC Champs have the 13th and 31st selections in the first round, but after that, they're not scheduled to pick again until the fifth round. Thus, it could make a lot of sense for GM John Lynch to trade down and grab some additional assets, including a second-round pick.
For the Vikings, this could be a realistic way to land one of the top four offensive tackles: Wills, Tristan Wirfs, Mekhi Becton, and Andrew Thomas. If the Giants take Clemson's Isaiah Simmons fourth overall instead of a tackle, there's a good chance one of the four would slip to the Bucs at No. 14. This move would get the Vikings ahead of Tom Brady's new team and allow them to draft a tackle that can pair with Brian O'Neill for years to come. Minnesota could also target Ruggs, Jeudy, or cornerback CJ Henderson in this spot.
Atlanta Falcons (pick No. 16)
Potential trade: The Vikings send picks 22, 89, and 249 to the Falcons for pick 16.
If Spielman wants to make a less-drastic deal but still move up six spots in the first round, Atlanta seems like a prime target. The Falcons currently have just six picks in this draft, which is tied with the Cardinals and Steelers for the fewest of any team. Adding an extra third-rounder could be appealing to the Falcons, especially if K'Lavon Chaisson is off the board. The Falcons need a pass-rusher, and either AJ Epenesa or Yetur Gross-Matos would be a better value at No. 22 than No. 16.
For the Vikings, this would allow them to jump in front of the Cowboys, who need a cornerback after losing Byron Jones in free agency. If Henderson slips into the teens – which seems unlikely – this would allow the Vikings to go get him. They could also take Jeff Gladney here if they're worried about him not making it to 22. If someone like Jeudy or Kinlaw is still on the board, they would also make sense to go get at No. 16.
Update: The Falcons are reportedly interested in trading UP from 16, potentially for Chaisson, Henderson, or Kinlaw, which is interesting considering how few picks they have. This report certainly doesn't eliminate the possibility of Atlanta trading down, but it's worth noting.
Dallas Cowboys (pick No. 17)
Potential trade: The Vikings send picks 22 and 89 to the Cowboys for pick 17.
Instead of moving in front of the Cowboys, the Vikings could just look to orchestrate a trade with them. Peter King recently reported that Dallas is very interested in taking Michigan center Cesar Ruiz to replace the retired Travis Frederick, and that a trade down for Ruiz would make sense.
“It’s too high for a center,” said one personnel wag, “but they love [Ruiz] and they could trade down a few spots and still be sure of getting him.
The Cowboys also have just seven picks and could be looking for additional draft capital. In this scenario, they move down five spots to get better value for Ruiz, and add a third-round pick.
For the Vikings, this could be a move to secure Houston tackle Josh Jones, who many feel is the best player at his position after the big four. The Dolphins have been linked to Jones with the 18th pick, as they need a tackle and are likely to pass on the big four to take Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert fifth overall. If the Vikings fall in love with Jones – who has great size, is a fit for their scheme, and dominated at the Senior Bowl – this is the way to make sure they get him.
Las Vegas Raiders (pick No. 19)
Potential trade: The Vikings send picks 22, 132, and 205 to the Raiders for pick 19.
The Raiders, like the Vikings, have five picks in the first two days: No. 12 and No. 19 in the first round, plus three third-rounders. But while Minnesota has seven picks on Day 3, the Raiders have just two. Their final pick at No. 160 overall is the earliest final pick of any team in the league, as things currently stand. If they think someone they like at 19 is unlikely to be taken by the Jaguars at 20 or the Eagles at 21, Mike Mayock could look to pick up two Day 3 selections from the Vikings by sliding back three spots.
From the Vikings' perspective, jumping the Jaguars and Eagles could be huge. If Jacksonville doesn't take Henderson at No. 9, they could be locked in on grabbing a corner like Gladney or Kristian Fulton at 20. The Eagles, meanwhile, are a prime candidate to make Justin Jefferson the fourth receiver off the board. If the Vikings covet Gladney or Jefferson and don't know if they'll make it to 22, this would be a minor move to ensure they get their guy.
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