The 3 Best Draft-Night Trades for Vikings from Last 2 Decades

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If you enjoy trades, in general, the Minnesota Vikings are probably the most exciting NFL team to follow.

Between Rick Spielman and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah in the last 18 years, the Vikings trade like fiends, especially compared to other franchises. Folks thought Spielman traded a lot — he was aptly named Trader Rick — but then Adofo-Mensah upped the ante in his tour of duty, trading more than anyone during the 2022 and 2023 NFL Drafts.

The 3 Best Draft-Night Trades for Vikings from Last 2 Decades

This brief examination highlights the Vikings’ three best draft night trades of the last twenty years. It does not include transactions outside of the draft — the event itself — that netted Justin Jefferson or Jared Allen, for example. Think: trades while the draft is ongoing.

Cap Increase
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They’re ranked in ascending order (No. 1 = best).

3. The Brian Robison Trade

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The Deal:
a 2007 4th-Rounder and 6th-Rounder
to TB
for a 2007 4th-Rounder

What the Vikings Got: DE Brian Robison

What the Other Team Got: DB Tanard Jackson and LB Adam Hayward

The Vikings climbed four spots in the draft for the price of a 6th-Round pick — to land the services of Brian Robison for 11 years. Jackson and Hayward remained in the NFL for a while but didn’t approach Robison’s production level.

Robison later started from 2011 to 2016, tabulating 60 sacks. He played every single career snap as a Viking.

2. The Everson Griffen Trade

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The Deal:
a 2010 1st-Rounder and 4th-Rounder
to DET
for a 2010 2nd-Rounder, 4th-Rounder, and 7th-Rounder

What the Vikings Got: DB Chris Cook, DE Everson Griffen, and TE Mickey Shuler

What the Other Team Got: RB Jahvid Best and OL Jason Fox

Best was a decent tailback for two years, and Fox started just three games for the Lions. Cook was supposed to be the crowning jewel for the Vikings in this trade, but it was Griffen who stole the show when Mike Zimmer came to the Twin Cities in 2014. Griffen truly took off as a Pro Bowl defensive end.

Shuler never played for the Vikings. Cook was just “a guy.”

1. The Harrison Smith Trade

Theory on Harrison
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The Deal:
a 2012 2nd-Rounder and 4th-Rounder
to BAL
for a 2012 1st-Rounder

What the Vikings Got: S Harrison Smith

What the Other Team Got: OLB Courtney Upshaw and G Gino Gradkowski

Minnesota traded up six rungs on the ladder to get back into Round 1 for Smith, who’d later — it didn’t take long — solidify the back end of the Vikings defense for 13+ years. Smith is still on the team, and barring injury, will start again in Brian Flores’ defense.

Upshaw and Gradkowski weren’t disasters, but neither was given a second contract in Baltimore. If the Vikings somehow win a Super Bowl, Smith is probably Hall of Fame-bound. If not, his case for Canton is a humongous maybe.

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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