1st-Round Reaction after a Risky Vikings Trade Down
Vikings Insider, The GM’s View
It was a long night for the Vikings faithful after GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah traded the No. 12 pick to Detroit, moving down to No. 32 at the end of the first round to select an exciting prospect in Georgia safety Lewis Cine.
Adofo-Mensah wanted quantity by gaining an extra third-round pick (almost a No. 2 since it’s the second pick in the third round, and the Vikings moved up 12 spots in the second round to No. 34—second pick on Day 2). The question is: did he give up too much quality by dropping 20 spots in Round One? We’ll know in 2-3 years as we see how all the players drafted pan out, starting with Cine (unless he’s a Pro Bowl player in his rookie year like Justin Jefferson, and then we’ll know sooner).
I think it’s a risky move to drop 20 spots in the first round and see a lot of potential star players selected by other teams. It also was unusual to see a trade with another team in your division and then see the Lions select a dynamic receiver in Alabama’s Jameson Williams, who the Vikings will face twice each season for at least the next several years. That could come back to haunt them.
Adofo-Mensah said the Vikings had Cine rated between the 13th and 19th best player in this draft, so it’s a good thing that it appears he and his staff selected their highest-rated player when their turn finally came. But it was much to the chagrin of Vikings fans in attendance at the draft party at U.S. Bank Stadium who were not thrilled with the trade down and having to wait a couple more hours for Minnesota’s pick. It reminded me of my early drafts with the Vikings when we picked late in the first round, but that was because we had been a Super Bowl or final four team the season before, not due to trading down.
At this early juncture, there’s a lot to like in Cine, who is fast (4.37 in the 40), physical, and has the reputation of being smart, which is essential for a safety. He should make an excellent pair with Harrison Smith, and it sounds like the defensive coaches can move him around to make impact plays. I also see a promising future for last year’s fourth-round safety Cam Bynum who played well in his two starts last season. Coach Kevin O’Connell says they can find ways to get Bynum on the field with Smith and Cine, which sounds great if it can work, and let’s remember Bynum was a college cornerback at Cal, so perhaps he can be an NFL corner as well as a safety.
It was interesting to hear the ESPN analysts such as Lewis Riddick rave about Cine. Riddick said he thought he was close to or equal in ability to Kyle Hamilton from Notre Dame, the first safety picked at No. 14 by the Ravens. The Vikings hope that’s the case as these two players will always be compared by fans and media since the Vikings could’ve picked Hamilton if they stayed at No. 12.
I also am impressed that Cine was Georgia’s leading tackler and the Defensive MVP in their national championship game win over Alabama when he was part of a defense that had a record five defensive players selected in the first round. His performance in such a big game shows me he is a player who plays well under pressure.
Now it’s critical that the Vikings hit on their three Friday/Day 2 draft picks, starting with No. 34. If they can grab a potential starting corner or a potential starting center or guard and follow it up with solid players at No. 66 and No. 77, there will be a better feeling about the decision to move down in the first round.
“We’ve got three really good chances,” O’Connell said. “I really felt like the value could present itself in that kind of 30ish to 70-something kind of picks. We have a lot of guys on our board stacked there who can help us win a lot of football games.”
Now you’ve got to go get them and develop them into star players to help build a perennial playoff team.
First-round observations around the NFL:
1.What’s Aaron Rodgers thinking?: For the 21st straight year, the Packers did not select a wide receiver in the first round despite a glaring need after losing Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Rodgers can’t be thrilled to see GM Brian Gutekunst take two Georgia defenders—linebacker Quay Walker and defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt but there already had been six wide receivers selected in the first 18 picks, so he obviously didn’t think the remaining receivers warranted a pick at No. 22 or No. 28. But that probably doesn’t matter to the selfish Rodgers, who likely is seething today.
2. Look out for Detroit: the Lions got perhaps the safest pick (who many analysts projected to go No. 1) and an excellent defensive end at No. 2 in Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson and then grabbed Williams who is a speedy playmaking receiver courtesy of the trade with the Vikings. I expect them to draft their QB of the future (to be groomed behind Jared Goff) in the second round at No. 46. Could Malik Willis fall that far or it could be Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, Ole Miss’ Matt Corral, or North Carolina’s Sam Howell? It sure appears the lowly Lions are on the upswing.
3. I thought both New York teams had an excellent first round (but again, time will tell). The Jets picked a top corner in Sauce Gardner (Cincinnati), perhaps this draft’s best wide receiver in Garrett Wilson (Ohio State), and then a promising edge rusher in Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson who is from Eden Prairie and was projected by many as a top 10 pick. The Giants filled two significant needs with talented edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux from Oregon at No. 5 and perhaps the draft’s best offensive lineman in tackle Evan Neal (Alabama).
4. For only the second time in the last 20 years, only one quarterback was taken in the first round making this a first round with less sizzle compared to last year when the first three picks were quarterbacks, and there were five first round QBs. But the Steelers’ taking QB Kenny Pickett at No. 20 was a first-round highlight with his emotional response and celebration with his family on learning that he can now play professionally in the same city as his college team (Pitt).
Coming next week—Jeff’s reaction to the Vikings’ total draft.
Jeff Diamond is a former Vikings GM, former Tennessee Titans President and was selected NFL Executive of the Year after the Vikings’ 15-1 season in 1998. He now works for the NFL agent group IFA based in Minneapolis and does other sports consulting and media work along with college/corporate speaking. Follow him and direct message him on Twitter– @jeffdiamondnfl