The Minnesota Vikings, under first-year general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, could stick to Rick Spielman’s script on draft day.
Known as “Trader Rick” for his penchant for trading down in the draft to acquire more draft picks, Spielman did not stray from his philosophy last season, trading the New York Jets the No. 14 overall pick to move down to No. 21 and acquire a pair of third-round picks.
And despite Spielman’s departure, the Vikings are rumored to follow Spielman’s draft strategy.
The latest Vikings news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Vikings newsletter here!
Vikings a Potential Trade Partner for Saints, Steelers
uStadium unloaded its notebook from weeks of conversations with scouts and executives around the league on April 13 and identified the Vikings as a trade-down candidate for the New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers.
“Teams to watch trading up/down: Saints and Steelers have called and laid the groundwork for a draft day trade. Watch the Giants (7) and Vikings (12) as trade down options,” uStadium reported.
This year’s draft is one of the most unpredictable in recent memory without a bonafide No. 1 quarterback or wide receiver prospect, but Minnesota’s biggest draft need seems unanimous among mock drafters. Twenty of 25 mock drafts tracked by Vikings.com have penned Minnesota to use the No. 12 overall pick to draft a cornerback.
Ahmad Gardner (Cincinnati), Derek Stingely Jr. (LSU) and Trent McDuffie (Washington St.) are the top-tier cornerbacks being selected in the top-15 of the first round.
However, depending on how the first handful of picks pan out, quarterback-needy teams like the Saints or Steelers may be willing to pay a premium to move up in the draft. A trade back with either team would leave the Vikings inside the top-20 and in range to still draft an NFL-ready cornerback like Clemson’s Andrew Booth Jr.
The additional picks received in the trade would give Minnesota capital to move around in the draft and address other positions of need.
How the draft board lines up on April 28 will determine whether a deal could be reached, but Minnesota appears to be keeping its options open.
Die-hard Vikings fan? Follow the Heavy on Vikings Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content from Skol Nation!
Vikings Draft Needs
Minnesota’s draft strategy remains a mystery with a new regime in place.
Despite all 25 mock drafters listed on Vikings.com selecting a defensive player in the first round, there is an idea of choosing a first-round wide receiver gaining steam in the fan base. Newly hired head coach Kevin O’Connell ran 86% of offensive plays out of three-wide receiver sets with the Los Angeles Rams en route to a Super Bowl last season. Another first-round prospect would guarantee a viable threat opposite Justin Jefferson when Adam Thielen, soon to be 32, retires.
Minnesota is also in the market for another pass-rusher despite the Vikings signing Za’Darius Smith this offseason. Smith is coming off back surgery and is a high-risk signing they could reinforce with a first-round pass-rush prospect.
The Vikings also have a void at strong safety following the departure of Xavier Woods, who signed with the Carolina Panthers this offseason. A fourth-round pick last year, Cam Bynum made three starts and played in 14 games last season and proved reliable. But Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton slips to No. 12; the Vikings may not let the opportunity to draft a player garnering respect as the league’s next great safety.