Oregon's Penei Sewell and Northwestern's Rashawn Slater are the consensus top two offensive linemen in this week's NFL Draft; they're seen as being in a tier by themselves, ahead of players like Christian Darrisaw and Alijah Vera-Tucker. Sewell is expected to be drafted as early as fifth and is unlikely to get out of the top ten, while Slater is typically forecasted to go in the 8-13 range.
So if the Vikings want one of those two, they're probably going to have to do something they never do with their first round pick: trade up. The Vikings haven't moved up from their first-rounder since 1987 when they went from 16th to 14th to take running back D.J. Dozier.
With that said, it almost happened last year. Rick Spielman called the 49ers to gauge the cost of moving from 22nd to 13th, almost certainly to draft Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs.
Now it sounds like Spielman will once again consider moving up for a tackle this year.
"The hot spot right now is at the bottom of the top ten," NFL Network's Tom Pelissero said on Monday. "Specifically the Lions at 7 and the Panthers at 8 have been fielding a lot of phone calls...the Vikings have been active, working the phones, that would probably be if one of those offensive tackles ends up sliding."
Interesting. With just a few days to go until the first round on Thursday night, it's impossible to know how seriously Spielman and company are thinking about moving up. But the fact that they've made calls about it is absolutely worth noting.
KFAN's Paul Allen, the radio voice of the team and a plugged-in source, seems to think a move up would be for Slater.
Earlier this month, with Spielman having attended pro days at Northwestern and Oregon to watch the two top tackles, I wrote about what it might cost to move up to get one of them.
The ideal scenario for the Vikings, if they are in fact infatuated with Sewell and Slater, is this: after QBs go with the first three picks, the Falcons take Kyle Pitts, the Bengals go with Ja'Marr Chase instead of Sewell, and the Dolphins take one of the Alabama receivers at 6. If the Lions either take a QB, take a WR, or trade the pick to a QB-needy team, the Vikings could try to move up with the Panthers to get Sewell.
However, the Panthers might just take Sewell at that point. But maybe they take a quarterback, even after trading for Sam Darnold. Who knows? Would Spielman then call longtime friend George Paton to see about moving up to 9 for Sewell? The issue with any trade up, as long as one or more of the top five QBs is still on the board, is that the price would be driven up by teams like the Patriots looking to go up for a QB.
That's just a look at scenarios where the Vikings could land Sewell, which remains highly unlikely. More feasible would be a trade up to somewhere in the 9-12 range for Slater. The Vikings would presumably need to jump the Chargers at 13 if they want to have a chance at landing the Northwestern product. The smaller the move up, the less it would cost. A move up two spots to 12, if the Eagles are interested, might only cost a couple Day 3 picks.
It's going to be fascinating to see how things play out on Thursday night. I still think the Vikings trading up is the third-most-likely outcome, behind staying put and trading down. But if Sewell and/or Slater start sliding, don't be shocked if the Vikings make a bold move to go up and get one of them.
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