'Tis the season of predictions, and CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora made a favorable one for the Vikings.
La Canfora recently rolled out his early NFL playoff predictions for the 2022 season, projecting every division winner and Wild Card contenders.
When it comes to the NFC North, he expects Minnesota to dethrone Green Bay. La Canfora wrote:
I believe Green Bay's best window to win a Super Bowl has passed. Not buying the WR group. Getting long in the tooth in critical areas. Have lost some recently dominant players like [Za'Darius] Smith. Too many wasted or overly cure draft picks from recent years holding back roster development. The Vikings will have entirely different vibe with Mike Zimmer gone. They still have enough talent on defense – especially up front – to be dangerous and the offense will be a problem. First-year head coach and GM aren't under real pressure yet. Team will play hard.
For what it's worth, La Canfora does expect the Packers to appear in the postseason – but as a Wild Card team.
In the NFC East, La Canfora predicted the Eagles – whom the Vikings will visit on Monday Night Football in Week 2 – to take the division.
Last year's playoff appearance caught many by surprise, but a division title in 2022 should not. Jalen Hurts will have every opportunity to thrive with an upgraded cast around him. A.J. Brown will change how teams can defend them. The defensive line has new depth. The rest of the division is spiraling in my estimation. Stopping their run game is a bear and now they can capitalize more if you stack the box.
La Canfora is watching for the Bucs and Rams to take the NFC South and West, respectively.
Vikings make ESPN's list of top 5 NFL Draft trades
New Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah executed six trades during his first NFL Draft as a GM.
While numerous fans questioned Adofo-Mensah's decision to conduct trades with two division rivals (Detroit and Green Bay), ESPN's Seth Walder had nothing but praise for the move with the Packers.
In fact, Walder included that transaction as one of his top five trades of the entire draft. As a refresher, Minnesota sent pick No. 34 to Green Bay in exchange for Nos. 53 and 59. Walder wrote:
The numbers alone don't quite do Minnesota justice here, because they traded with a division rival.
Conjuring the No. 90 pick in the draft (the equivalent pick of the surplus value acquired) is good. Taking the No. 90 pick from a divisional opponent in exchange for nothing is better.
Critics will say this is bad because Minnesota let the Packers fill a critical need with the selection of [North Dakota State receiver] Christian Watson. This is faulty logic because that leaves out the context that Green Bay let Minnesota have two picks that were collectively worth more than what they used on Watson, plus the Packers might have traded up and gotten Watson from someone else anyway.
A willingness to deal with divisional opponents is a good trait for a team to have (though it can amplify an error, as it did for the Packers here).
Minnesota's trade landed at No. 4 on Walder's list. He topped the rankings with a tie between the Patriots-Chiefs and Texans-Eagles trades, both of which occurred in Round 1.
The Texans-Browns trade, in which Cleveland received picks Nos. 68, 108 and 124 in exchange for 44, landed third on Walder's list. His fifth-favorite trade was Jacksonville acquiring pick No. 27 from Tampa Bay in exchange for Nos. 33, 106 and 180.
View college action photos of every Vikings pick from the 2022 NFL Draft.
This trade was particularly tough for Jacksonville (or strong for Tampa Bay, depending on your perspective) because of the two picks made before it.
One pick prior, the Jets traded up from No. 35 to No. 26 in a move that cost them surplus value equivalent to pick No. 150, while Jacksonville's surplus value surrendered was worth pick No. 95. Before that, the Bills made a small move up and only surrendered surplus value worth around pick No. 140.
The market had moved down and yet Jacksonville still paid a hefty price for the right to select Devin Lloyd.