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Trading Back: The Early Landscape

Posted Feb 22, 2014

A couple of early themes from the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine are that this class has depth and that the Vikings would like to trade back.

NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said it’s the deepest class he’s seen in 10 years and he also said a top 20 pick this year is like a top 10 pick most years. Vikings GM Rick Spielman said he’d “love” to be able to trade back from No. 8, assuming the right deal is presented.

Let’s take those two themes, smash them together, and take an early look at what a trade back from No. 8 could look like for the Vikings.

For the purposes of this discussion, let’s use NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah’s most recent mock draft as a guide for what might happen in front of the Vikings and let’s use Mayock’s position rankings as a Vikings draft board. Here’s how Jeremiah sees the early part of the first round going.

1. Houston Texans – DE Jadeveon Clowney
2. St. Louis Rams – OT Greg Robinson
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – QB Johnny Manziel
4. Cleveland Browns – QB Teddy Bridgewater
5. Oakland Raiders – QB Blake Bortles
6. Atlanta Falcons – LB Khalil Mack
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – LB Anthony Barr
8. Minnesota Vikings – ????

With the draft unfolding in that manner, the Vikings could be in business when it comes to trading back. The player many deem as the best in the class – receiver Sammy Watkins – is still on the board. In total, there are eight players who are ranked No. 1 at their position (according to Mayock) still on the board (this is combining centers and guards, and distinguishing a middle linebacker out of the linebackers group). All of this means there are plenty of names on the board that will be appealing to teams, which in turn means the Vikings are in a position of strength when it comes to a trade.

At this point, Watkins is the leverage point the Vikings should use in a potential trade. Jeremiah has the Bills at No. 9, the Rams at No. 13, the Steelers at No. 15, the Jets at No. 18, the Chiefs at No. 23, the Panthers at No. 28 and the Broncos at No. 31 all taking receivers in the first round. Under the premise that selecting the top player at his position is the goal in the first round, let’s identify the No. 9-to-No. 18 range as the desired landing spot in a trade, and let’s take a look at trades over the past two seasons involving picks in that range.

-- In 2013 the Bills traded No. 8 (the Vikings pick this year) and a third-rounder to the Rams in exchange for a first-round pick (No. 16), a second-round pick (46), a third-round pick (78) and a seventh-round pick (222).

-- In 2012 the Rams traded No. 6 to the Cowboys in exchange for a first-round pick (14) and a second-round pick (45).

Lining all of this up, then, in theory the Vikings could trade No. 8 to either the Steelers at No. 15 or the Jets at No. 18 for a package of picks that would look something like a first-rounder plus a second rounder (and perhaps an exchange of later-round picks to even everything out) AND still wind up with a player who ranks No. 1 at his position on the draft board, such as: cornerback Darqueze Dennard; inside linebacker CJ Mosley; defensive tackle Louis Nix III; safety Calvin Pryor; or interior offensive lineman David Yankey.

If you feel lost or if you just want an easy, cut-and-dry illustration of what this all boils down to, it essentially comes down to this choice:

-- Keep the No. 8 pick and select any player in the class not listed in Jeremiah’s mock draft of picks No. 1 through No. 7.

-- Or trade back, acquire a second and perhaps third-round pick, and choose from these available top-rated players when you’re on the clock in the middle of the 1st round: Dennard, Mosley, Nix III, Pryor, and Yankey.

What would you do, Vikings nation? Let us know in the comments section below.