Vikings Passed on a Trade So They Could Draft One Specific Player

Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O'Connell at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, after a 20-17 win over the Washington Commanders in Week 9 of the 2022 regular season.

The Minnesota Vikings didn’t conduct any trades after Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft, but they came damn close.

Vikings Passed on a Trade So They Could Draft One Specific Player

Minnesota used Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft to select quarterback J.J. McCarthy of Michigan and outside linebacker Dallas Turner from Alabama. Virtually no Vikings loyalist considered both men attainable, as general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was predicted to trade his 1st-Round assets for a quarterback of the future. But on draft night, McCarthy slid to pick No. 10, where the young GM executed a trade with the New York Jets — while keeping his 23rd overall pick. He then drafted Turner after a pricey trade to the 17th spot with the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

Levi Drake Rodriguez
Levi Drake Rodriguez. Image Courtesy of The Vikings drafted Drake Rodriguez in Round 7 of the 2024 NFL Draft, and he’ll compete for a roster spot this summer.

After that in Round 1, it was crickets for trades. But Adofo-Mensah later revealed that he could’ve packaged some picks and moved up the board between Rounds 4 and 7. He told reporters following the draft, “We had a chance to maybe trade up and lose a pick. and we were thinking, ‘Well, we want to get both of our targets.’ And we ended up getting both of them, and the person was like, ‘Well, we can’t lose out on Levi Drake’ […] We think he’s a talented player, growth mindset player, I can’t wait to get him in this building.”

So, Levi Drake Rodriguez is the guy.

Draft Pick
Drake Levi Rodriguez. Undrafted free agent added by Minnesota Vikings after the 2024 NFL Draft from Texas A&M-Commerce. Rodriguez will compete for a roster spot this summer.

Minnesota found Drake Rodriguez in Round 7, a spot usually known for lottery-ticket-like selections. Most 7th-Rounders don’t stick around too long. The Vikings will hope Drake Rodriguez is different.

Drake Rodriguez has the weird advantage of Minnesota’s depth chart at his disposal. He’ll have Brian Flores teaching him every step of the way, a built-in perk as a standalone situation. Then, Flores’ defense has no high-profile defensive tackles standing in Drake Rodriguez’s way, at least not on the current depth chart.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

ESPN’s Field Yates sized up the draft last week, and regarding Drake Rodriguez, he called the defender “one of the draft’s hidden gems.” Yates also said Drake Rodriguez “has great burst that caught the eyes of scouts this past season, and Minnesota landed a potential sleeper here.”

The new defender came from Texas A&M University-Commerce. Non-Texans have probably never heard of that school, but the purple team’s fans will become familiar if Drake Rodriguez busts out into stardom.

Next to Harrison Phillips on the defensive line, Minnesota is expected to showcase a summer camp battle between Jonathan Bullard, Jaquelin Roy, Jerry Tillery, and Jonah Williams. Depending on training camp and preseason, Drake Rodriguez could show flashes of promise as soon as this summer and possibly sniff on-the-field action as a rookie.

Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

During the draft’s lead-up, The 33rd Team described Drake Rodriguez’s scouting report: “Rodriguez is a high-upside, gap-shooting defensive tackle whose upper-body strength and quickness off the ball should allow him to be a productive rotational option at the next level, though he’ll need to improve his pad level and discipline to hit his ceiling.”

It is unclear which player Minnesota would’ve targeted in the trade mentioned by Adofo-Mensah.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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