The Minnesota Vikings, at the moment, are 2nd-Round orphans in the 2021 NFL Draft. General Manager Rick Spielman currently holds 10 scheduled picks in the draft that begins on April 29th. If Spielman follows his modus operandi, that could spike to several more selections during the draft as he routinely shows a fervor for moving and shaking throughout the process via trade.
Minnesota is not on the docket for any 2nd-Round picks because a trade for Yannick Ngakoue was concocted at end of August in 2020. Ngakoue, a ferocious pass-rusher and strip-sack merchant, was to be partnered with Danielle Hunter to formulate one of the NFL’s best pass-rushing duos.
The two never played a snap together.
Danielle Hunter missed all of the pandemic season with a neck injury. As a result, the Vikings started the season with a 1-5 record and quickly sent the new commodity, Ngakoue, to the Baltimore Ravens for a clawback 3rd Round pick in the 2021 draft. The Ravens reached the postseason but were dispatched by the Buffalo Bills in the Divisional Round of the 2020 playoffs. Now, Ngakoue is a free agent and can sign with any NFL team. The soon-to-be 26-year-old has made it abundantly clear that he wishes to join a playoff-contending team, so that feels like his only prerequisite when job-hunting in March.
Ultimately, the Vikings paid 46 spots worth of draft positioning for six games of Yannick Ngakoue’s services. That folly can be erased if Spielman nails the 92nd overall pick that Minnesota received from Baltimore in the midseason trade.
Or Minnesota can explore a trade to squirm back into the 2nd Round of the 2021 draft. Here is how that might transpire.
The D.K. Metcalf Model
This is the friendliest mode to re-enter the 2nd Round via the eye-test. That is – the Vikings trade the later-round draft capital they have accumulated to seize a sexy new asset in the 2nd Round. Think of it like trading Brandin Cooks and JuJu Smith-Schuster for Davante Adams on your fantasy football team – two “lesser” appealing assets for one grandiose treasure.
It looks like this: Minnesota ships one of its 3rd Round picks (they have two of those in this draft) and probably a 4th Round selection to a team for its 2nd Rounder. This is how the Seattle Seahawks landed D.K. Metcalf in 2019 – a 77th (3rd Round) and 118th (4th Round) overall pick for the 64th selection where Metcalf was plucked. New England was the other party doing business in this deal. This strategy proved profitable as Metcalf has emerged as a Top 10 wide receiver in the league.
The package could also include a different variation of picks. In 2017, the Buffalo Bills traded a 3rd Round and two 5th Round picks to Atlanta for the 63rd overall pick, which, too, was a 2nd Rounder. The criteria are flexible, and there is precedent for this model.
The Trade-Down Method
Trading down is likely more realistic for the Vikings – unless the organization is already in love with a defensive end of offensive lineman at their current draft spot, the 14th pick. This one is pretty straightforward. Spielman will answer his phone on draft night around 8:00 pm with a team lusting for the 14th pick. He will ask for that team’s 20-something or 30-something pick and its 2nd Rounder. If the suitor is enchanted by “their guy” at No. 14, the Vikings slide back several spots in the 1st Round but then reclaim a 2nd-Round asset.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos did this in 2019. Pittsburgh wanted a linebacker from Michigan — Devin Bush — and surrendered the 20th pick in the 1st Round, the 52nd overall pick (2nd Round), and 83rd spot (3rd Round) to the Steelers. The Steelers landed Bush, and Denver flipped their haul for Noah Fant, Lloyd Cushenberry, and Drew Sample. A very fine deal — on both sides – to use a topical political phrase.
For the crowd that enjoys the lure of getting acclimated to many new faces, this is the method to endorse.
The Less Popular Trade-a-Vet Model
Finally – the cringeworthy stuff. A draft board in any year can get kittywampus rather quickly. Should Minnesota intensely desire hopping back in the 2nd Round of the 2021 draft, bartering an existing veteran is not unprecedented. But securing a 2nd-Round talent for an established player requires name recognition. That’s when names like Adam Thielen or Anthony Barr hit the wire. Thielen is probably too precious to deal, mainly because of his pristine and beloved reputation in the Twin Cities. Barr may not solely command a 2nd-Round price tag but splashing a 4th-Rounder or so could do the trick.
Minnesota could feasibly leave their draft schedule as-is. Yet, if Spielman wants to let his hair down, it can happen.