ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. released his third mock draft of the year on Tuesday, and it comes with a major surprise for the Vikings.
Minnesota has the No. 14 overall pick, but after that, is without a selection until No. 78 in the third round. As such, most people think the Vikings will either stay put at 14 or trade back, potentially trying to gain a second-rounder in the process.
Kiper has Rick Spielman and company going in a completely different direction. In his mock, Spielman contacts longtime friend and colleague George Paton, now the GM of the Broncos, and trades up to No. 9 to select Oregon tackle Penei Sewell. The Vikings land one of the best offensive line prospects in recent memory and can pencil Sewell in as their starting left tackle for the next ten-plus years.
Here's Kiper's logic for the trade and the pick:
With top offensive tackle Penei Sewell still on the board, I'm projecting the Vikings to move up five spots to get their instant starter at left tackle. That could cost a lot of capital; Minnesota leads the NFL in total picks in this class (11), although it doesn't have a second-rounder as a result of the trade for pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue. This would likely cost at least Minnesota's second-rounder in 2022 and likely more.
I like the fit here, particularly with Riley Reiff leaving in free agency. Sewell is an elite talent, and if this quarterback class wasn't so strong, he might be a lock for the top five. The Vikings have had offensive line issues for years, but Sewell would plug their hole on the left side. An elite O-line covers up roster flaws, and this is a step toward improving the entire offense.
This would be an absolute home run for the Vikings, even considering how much they'd have to give up in a trade. Sewell is as close to a sure-thing prospect as there is because of his absurd athleticism and incredible production in college. Some analysts consider him a "generational" type of prospect and a future Hall of Famer. He'd be an immediate stud at left tackle, which would allow the Vikings to keep Ezra Cleveland at guard.
But while it's fun to imagine, there are a number of reasons why this simply isn't going to happen.
First of all, I can't imagine a prospect like Sewell falling to the ninth overall pick. Here's how Kiper sees the first eight picks going down:
- Jaguars: QB Trevor Lawrence
- Jets: QB Zach Wilson
- Panthers: QB Justin Fields (via Dolphins)
- Falcons: QB Trey Lance
- Bengals: TE Kyle Pitts
- Eagles: WR Ja'Marr Chase
- Lions: WR DeVonta Smith
- Dolphins: WR Jaylen Waddle (via Panthers)
A run of four straight QBs to begin the draft is certainly believable. But I think the Bengals would lean Sewell over Pitts. Even if they don't, I think one of the next three teams would go BPA and take Sewell instead of a receiver.
But let's say Sewell does start to slip. Crazier things have happened. The other big issue here is that the Vikings never trade up. It hasn't happened under Rick Spielman, and it hasn't happened in at least 30 years, by my quick research. The Vikings have traded into the first round (including doing so in three straight years with Harrison Smith, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Teddy Bridgewater from 2012-14), but I can't find an example of them ever moving up within the first round.
Plus, even if the Vikings would consider trading up, this is a particularly difficult year for them to do so. They don't have a second-round pick, so they'd probably have to move a third-rounder and a 2022 second, at least. That just doesn't seem to fit Spielman's philosophy.
Maybe if the stars aligned and Sewell started falling, Spielman would abandon his tendencies and go get a player who could finally help solve the Vikings' offensive line woes.
Just don't get your hopes up.
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