For about two weeks, the trade hubbub for the Minnesota Vikings and Orlando Brown was only conducted via whisper — at least among fans.
General Manager Rick Spielman has no tried-and-true left tackle on the roster, although Ezra Cleveland could be moved back from right guard to left tackle if called upon. Cleveland could do so as he played left tackle at Boise State. Minnesota moved him to the RG spot in 2020 because, well, the existing guards on the roster dwelled in the cellar of offensive-lineman performance. And Cleveland played well — he tallied a 66.2 Pro Football Focus grade, which is applaudable for a rookie.
Spielman may indeed shift Cleveland three spots to the left — or he could draft a rookie out of the 2021 NFL Draft such as Christian Darrisaw or Rashawn Slater.
Bleacher Report has other plans, though. And these dealings are ones that the body-politic of Vikings fans will enjoy. In an article about the “7 Most Plausible Draft-Day Trades,” Orlando Brown Jr., a left tackle from the Baltimore Ravens, ends up with the Vikings. In fact, it’s the very first trade that author Kristopher Knox outlines in his article. The Vikings send the No. 14 pick, the No. 125 overall pick (4th Round), and a 2022 2nd-Round pick to Baltimore for Brown and the 27th pick in this year’s 1st Round.
This is tantalizing.
And that’s mostly because the Vikings avoid surrendering a king’s ransom for the services of a player that notched a 2020 PFF grade of 76.5. Minnesota would holster a 1st-Round selection — that’s just 13 spots lower — and receive Brown while “only” giving up a 2nd-Rounder next year and one of its 4th-Rounders in 2020. To be sure, Spielman has a plethora of picks in this year’s 4th Roud, four to be exact.
Thank you, Buffalo Bills, for the Stefon Diggs trade.
Knox writes on the theoretical trade:
“While the Baltimore Ravens have not yet pulled the trigger on a deal, they have allowed right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. to gauge interest on the open market. Brown’s value could be at its highest over draft weekend, which would be especially true if an early run on tackle prospects leaves teams near the bottom of Round 1 wanting. Brown has expressed his desire to play left tackle, but the Ravens have Ronnie Stanley entrenched at that spot. The Minnesota Vikings, however, should be in the market for a left tackle after losing Riley Reiff in free agency. Unsurprisingly, Minnesota has reportedly shown interest in Brown. While Minnesota may not be willing to part with the 14th overall selection outright, it could consider swapping first-rounders with Baltimore and including other picks in the deal—the Vikings don’t possess a second-round selection in 2021. Such a move could allow the Ravens to target one of this year’s top wide receiver prospects. The Ravens have lacked a legitimate No. 1 receiver for several years and could look to address the issue now. The Vikings and Ravens also have trade history, the most recent involving pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue. The two franchises also exchanged picks on Day 3 of the 2020 NFL draft.”
Bedfellows for trade arrangements, the Ravens and Vikings would do business once again. The communication pipeline is open. From that conduit, Minnesota would be set up with a left tackle of the future, an asset that has eluded the franchise since Bryant McKinnie departed for — you guessed it — the Baltimore Ravens in 2011.
Assuming that Spielman made no more offensive line moves in the draft or free agency (which is silly to predict), the Vikings offensive line suddenly feels not-awful. It would look something like this:
(LT) Orlando Brown Jr., (LG) Mason Cole / Rookie, ( C ) Garrett Bradbury, (RG) Ezra Cleveland, (RT) Brian O’Neill.
And that ain’t bad. At the very least, it’s better than the last several hodgepodges that Spielman has thrown together during the last half-decade.
The solitary drawback is that Spielman would lose another 2nd-Round pick. For most teams, that type of ammunition falls into a “meh” status when the target is an LT of the future. But for the Vikings, 2nd-Rounders are wickedly meaningful. In order since 2011, Spielman has yanked these men out of the 2nd Round: Kyle Rudolph, Eric Kendricks, Mackensie Alexander, Dalvin Cook, Brian O’Neill, Irv Smith Jr., and Ezra Cleveland. It’s Spielman’s bread-and-butter round.
However, the price tag is worth it. So long as Brown doesn’t arrive Minnesota and flop, finally fixing the offensive line is a rallying cry that Vikings loyalists have screamed in an overdue manner.