Vikings Are the Kings of Draft-Day Trades

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The draft success in the last few years has been a mixed bag. Some brilliant picks in the first half of the last decade built the foundation for decent teams in 2015, 2017, and 2019. Those teams were built around homegrown talent, with only a few free-agent additions like Linval Joseph.

Rick Spielman’s draft in 2015 was one of the best draft classes in the league in recent memory. He picked Trae Waynes in round one, which wasn’t an ideal selection, but he found some superstars afterward. In the next round, he picked UCLA linebacker, Eric Kendricks. Spielman found Danielle Hunter in the third round, and Stefon Diggs joined the Vikings in the fifth round. One trend has been obvious in the tenure of Spielman, and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah even increased that tendency.

Vikings Are the Kings of Draft-Day Trades

Vikings Are the Kings
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Spielman was known as Trader Rick in Vikings’ circles, a name he had earned over the years by trading on draft day, especially down. In 2020, he somehow managed to pick 15 players because of that strategy.

In his last draft, Spielman traded down from the 14th overall pick to the 23rd with the Jets and got lucky that Christian Darrisaw fell into his lap. The left tackle was one of the best selections in the last few years and should be the franchise left tackle for years to come.

Spielman also traded back into the first round to have a second pick in the top 32 in 2014 when he added quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to the team. His QB track record is not the best with Christian Ponder, Bridgewater, and later Kellen Mond in 2021.

Vikings Going Down
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The fascinating thing is that Spielman’s successor Kwesi Adofo-Mensah also has a tendency for draft-day trades. In his first year in charge, Adofo-Mensah didn’t make a single selection at the original draft position, as he was constantly maneuvering up and down the draft board.

He famously traded out of pick 12 all the way down to 32 with division rival Detroit Lions, who ended up selecting wideout Jameson Williams. Williams and the eventual Vikings pick Lewis Cine missed most of their rookie campaigns.

He later traded out of pick 34, a part of the Lions trade, and traded back up to choose cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. with pick 42. Ed Ingram, the second-round guard, joined the Vikings as a part of the trade with the Packers for the 34 overall selection. When it was all set and done, Adofo-Mensah traded up twice and down four times in his first draft as general manager.

According to Pro Football Focus, no other franchise in the league has facilitated more draft-day trades than the Vikings since 2011.

The purple team leads that category with 44, three more than the Patriots, who rank second with 41. They are trailed by the Eagles and the Browns, who both have 32.

Vikings on Another
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The reason for those trades is an obvious one. Teams that want a specific player trade up to get him before someone else picks him up. For that transaction, they must pay a premium. On the other side, the team that trades down views the value of the trade package as higher than the players on the draft board. If that team is enamored with a prospect, they are unlikely to trade down.

Generally, the draft is a lottery, and the more tickets someone has in that lottery, the higher the chance to win. Adofo-Mensah and his supposed analytical approach will lead to many trades in the upcoming draft. Nobody should be surprised by that, but most folks will be.

Minnesota only has five picks in the draft, with only one in the top two rounds. A trade down from 23 into one of the final picks of the first round or even into the second round should be the betting favorite scenario to collect some more draft picks, or lottery tickets, along the way.

The most pressing needs of the purple team are an upgrade at wide receiver, a new defensive tackle, and a cornerback.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt