NFL Draft 2016Poll Of The Week

Poll of the Week: Who’s Worth a First Round Trade?

Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, more often called “Trader Rick” this time of the year, is a genius at the negotiating table. When it comes to the NFL Draft and accumulating picks, no one does it better.

Between 2012 and 2014, Spielman selected a league-recorded seven players, and between 2011 and 2014, he successfully executed 15 trades involving 39 picks and the exchange of five veterans, per Mark Craig.

The general manager famously fleeced the Cleveland Browns in 2012, swapping the third overall pick for the fourth overall pick and three additional selections that year. The result? Minnesota ended up with current left tackle Matt Kalil and the Browns landed one of the draft’s biggest running back busts in Trent Richardson. And in 2013, the Vikings drafted three players in the first round, even after giving up four selections to acquire Cordarrelle Patterson.

Rick Spielman’s NFL Draft Tendencies, by Ryan Boser 

Some may argue that trade was a flop, but Patterson’s had his moments in Minnesota and will get one more chance to prove himself in 2016. Even with that massive transaction, Spielman has been conservative, especially over the last two drafts. In 2014, he selected Anthony Barr and Teddy Bridgewater in the first round, and the following year, came away with just one selection in Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes.

Spielman doesn’t always stick to the script, though. According to Vikings Journal, Sharrif Floyd was only one of seven first round draft picks taken in Minnesota’s original slot. It’s clear that Spielman will move down and trade his way out of picks, but he rarely trades up. When Spielman does move up, it’s almost always to get back into the first round, as he did in 2012, 2013, and most recently in 2014 with Bridgewater.

Sitting late in the first round with the 23rd-overall selection, Spielman’s options are limited. He can trade back and acquire more draft picks, but the Vikings already have eight slots; any more, and the roster won’t have enough room for all the new talent. If he wants, Spielman can select the best available player with the original selection, though it’s possible the prospect they really want isn’t there.

So, in a hypothetical world — since all mock drafts are pure speculation — imagine Spielman trading up and breaking his tendencies. What player would cause him to do such a thing, and are there any prospects worth such a move?

Option #1: Josh Doctson, WR — TCU

Doctson’s stellar pro day sparked talk that the TCU wide receiver, not Laquon Treadwell, is the best player at the position this year. It’s possible that Doctson’s stock soars to the point where he’s not available with a late first-round pick. If that’s the case, the Vikings will have to trade up for him.

Mike Zimmer and Spielman reportedly love Doctson, who many (including myself) believe would be a perfect fit in an offense lacking a jump-ball wide receiver on the outside. But a few other teams in front of the Vikings are potential suitors for the 6’2″ prospect, including:

  • Los Angeles Rams, 15th-overall selection
  • Detroit Lions, 16th-overall selection
  • Washington Redskins, 21st-overall selection

To move up to either of these spots, Spielman would need to leverage his first round selection, as well as picks from the later rounds. Using the NFL Draft Pick Value Calculator, it’s possible to determine a few scenarios for the Vikings that would make such a move possible for the right price:

  • Vikings (23 and 54) for Rams (15)
  • Vikings (23 and 54) for Lions (16)
  • Vikings (23 and 121) for Redskins (21)

It’s very possible the Rams, Lions, or Redskins target Doctson, who will likely come off the board after Treadwell. If the Vikings love the TCU star as much as reports indicate, a trade up isn’t out of the question.

Option #2: Darron Lee, OLB — Ohio State

Wide receiver is the popular choice for the offensive-needy Vikings, who currently field one of the league’s most athletic, aggressive defenses. Like Sam said in his latest mock draft roundup, he’d be okay with Spielman passing on a first-round receiver to add another athletic linebacker to the bunch. Vikings Territory co-founder Adam Warwas also projected Lee to the Vikings before free agency began last month.

With the signing of Emmanuel Lamur and the return of Chad Greenway, spending a first round draft pick on another linebacker doesn’t make a ton of sense. However, Zimmer likes his defenders athletic, and Lee is of a rare breed. At the NFL Scouting Combine, he jumped out of the gym and posted one of the fastest 40-yard dash times among all attendees, not just linebackers. His numbers alone may convince Spielman and Zimmer to jump ahead of a few teams, including:

  • Atlanta Falcons, 17th-overall selection
  • Indianapolis Colts, 18th-overall selection
  • New York Jets, 20th-overall selection

Moving up to any of these three spots would require a similar investment — Minnesota’s first-round pick and their second-round pick, the 54th-overall selection. It’d be a steep price to pay for Lee, who does have the potential to step into Chad Greenway’s position, but may find himself stuck at the middle of the depth chart.


Are the Vikings willing to trade up in the first round? Which players would warrant such a move? Share your answer in the poll and join the discussion in the comments section below!


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Austin Belisle

Austin Belisle is the West Coast's biggest Vikings fan, a football diehard cheering on the purple and yellow from sunny California. After graduating from San Jose State University in 2014, he began working full-time in corporate marketing and blogging on various sports websites. Austin's passion for the Vikings led him to Vikings Territory, where he hopes to share his lifelong enthusiasm for the team with readers on a daily basis. You can follow him on Twitter @austincbelisle

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  1. vernon hargreaves III is worth it, but he most likely won’t be there after the top 10-15 picks

  2. My other was to trade down, not up in this draft, unless someone really surprising drops. I’m not high on Doctson at 23, let alone trading up for him.

    1. Kevin has it right on this one…trade DOWN. The talent at pick 23 is similar to much of round two. Also, Rick Spielman has gone on record many times as saying he likes to have 10 picks in a draft and we currently have only 8.

  3. only two guys worth more than 1 pick is Myles Jack or Jalen Ramsey… and THAT IS IT…

    1. You don’t think Laremy Tunsil, Joey Bosa, or, for that matter, Ronnie Stanley isn’t worth our 1st and 2nd? Wow……..

      1. if you think our 23 and 54th pick will get us up to the top 10.. then WOW…. it will take a kings ransom to move that far up. and my point is the only 2 guys worth that ransom is Ramsey and Jack..

  4. It amazes me that with the worst pass offense in the NFL fans don’t get we need to improve what is a lousy corp of WRs. Doctson would be the best of the bunch we have as would Thomas. I thank the football gods none of you are GM of the Vikings.

    1. you dont draft by need.. you draft by BPA.. and if that is doctson at 23 fine.. but you dont reach cause you need a wr..

  5. Are people so enamored with Doctson’s catching ability that they aren’t concerned with his inability to create separation? Not trying to be snarky, honest question.

    He was a couple years older than his competition and was playing in one of the worst defensive conferences in college football so I take his stats with a grain of salt. There is no denying his catch ability which is off the charts, but watching edraft review showing how he tios off defenders and rounds his routes, and reading how he lacks the body control and precision in his routes running that Michael Thomas has gives me pause. I love his catching ability, but if he is not a great route runner, doesn’t have great speed, and struggles getting off press coverage then to me this says he will have trouble getting open at the NFL level.

    Thus the question. My assumption is one of two things; either people believe so much in his catching ability that they think he doesn’t need to be open, or they don’t percieve his ability to get open as concern. If it’s the latter I don’t share this unwaivering support, and am very concerned about his ability.

    If he can’t get open how many targets is Teddy going to give him? Unless we want Teddy just putting it up even if Doctson is covered. All I’m saying is if that’s the case then Doctson better learn to run better routes else DBs might be anticipating the throw and eliminating Doctsons catching ability by jumping the route. Of equal concern is that Teddy simply won’t throw it because he appears covered.

    Personally would rather have a guy who knows how to get open which plays to Teddy’s strengths. Not sure I love Thomas at 23, but I do think he is a better route runner and is better equipped to get open with greater frequency which should translate to more targets and a higher success rate.

  6. Myles Jack, baby. Not only does it re-unite the UCLA trio but it makes drafting a strong safety largely moot because of Jack’s coverage ability and system flexibility.