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Monday Morning Mailbag: Fans Wheel & Deal Through Trade Scenarios; Comparing Pick Valuations

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A little more than three weeks out from the draft, Vikings fans have been firing up several trade scenarios involving players and picks.

We also will take a comparative look at the way people try to place a numerical value on the worth of every pick.

Let's roll!

This is the time for all NFL fans to be hopeful and excited about drafting franchise-changing players, but I just feel impending dread. We play all four [AFC/NFC Championship participant] teams next year, plus the Chargers and Bucs as other playoff teams. The Lions and Bears will both certainly be better. We won a lot of awesome games in 2022, but by threads, and we effectively have two more away games next year (London didn't count). My draft worry is that the Vikings give up next year's picks, first or second round, to jump up this year for a quarterback, and then we end up with a high pick after a rough season, one that could actually be used on a QB. Is that scenario likely? I mean, I do hope the trial by fire concludes with our Vikings holding the Lombardi Trophy!

Second: I've been reading the Mailbags, and why does anyone want a QB who can't stay on the field the entire season? I will take [Kirk] Cousins over [Lamar] Jackson every time. Cousins is resilient. I get that fans were upset when he was getting top 3–5 QB money when he was not delivering that kind of performance. I was one of them. There's no available QB I'd replace him with now, though, as his current deal is more than fair.

Fan of your work as well as the Vikings!

— Jacob S. of Minneapolis

Some really good and interesting points from Jacob to start us off this week, and many thanks for reading and participating.

The 2023 schedule is loaded with teams that did well in 2022 and are expected to be tough again in 2023. Now that baseball season is back, I'll equate the Vikings schedule this fall to pitchers facing the 1927 Yankees lineup that featured four eventual Baseball Hall of Famers among the first six hitters.

The Vikings (and all NFC teams) have eight regular-season home games and nine regular-season road games in 2023, the third season in which the NFL has played a 17-game schedule.

As Jacob points out, that will include home games against Super Bowl Champion Kansas City and NFC runner-up San Francisco and visits to NFC Champion Philadelphia and AFC runner-up Cincinnati. Throw in a home game against the L.A. Chargers with Justin Herbert, and there are quite a few obstacles in the way of Minnesota trying to defend its division title and make a meaningful postseason run.

It's quite possible, even if the Vikings play at the level of a year ago or even better, that Minnesota could wind up with fewer than 13 wins, a total reached or exceeded just three times in franchise history.

I definitely don't expect the Vikings to show up to a game expecting to lose, but I do think there will be some tough battles. Minnesota faced plenty of those in 2022, winning a record 11 one-score games. Success like that is hard to carbon copy. There have been some departures, but there also have been some additions, and there's a belief that a foundation can be built upon for years to come.

I agree with Jacob that playing the Saints in London — again tipping my hat to that atmosphere — sidestepped having to play in New Orleans. Yet, it was still bonkers at the end of the game, which is kind of common when those teams get together.

That said, if the Vikings — or any team — makes multiple moves to vault up a draft board, it's because the team envisions the player to be a franchise-changer for years to come and one that is not likely to be equaled at the position in the following draft. Considerations must be balanced by an honest assessment of how much is being mortgaged in the process.

The Vikings haven't had a top-10 pick since 2014 when they tabbed Anthony Barr in the first draft of former Head Coach Mike Zimmer's tenure.

Matt Kalil (fourth overall in 2012) was the only top-5 selection made by the team since the late, great Chris Doleman (fourth overall in 1985), so it's been extremely rare for Minnesota to select that high.

Even if the team takes a catastrophic turn to the delight of a trade partner, there's no guarantee that that pick would be better than any player acquired by moving up this year, but I think we can all say that Seattle (recipient of the No. 5 pick from Denver in the Russell Wilson trade) and Detroit (recipient of the No. 6 pick from the Rams in the Matthew Stafford trade) didn't mind seeing the results in the Rockies and SoCal last season. The difference was the Rams were able to win Super Bowl LVI as part of that deal.

Spring is a time when everyone can try to be as optimistic as possible.

I haven't weighed in too heavily on assessing Jackson because of NFL rules, but everyone can see that he has missed five games in each of the past two seasons because of injuries. Cousins' resiliency is a bit glossed over in my opinion. People could go back and watch Minnesota's game at Washington last season if they need some proof of his toughness, and that's not to say Jackson isn't tough. Some injuries just can't be avoided, and each one has its own set of circumstances with information that is not widely known.

There are people who like watching Cousins and Jackson play, even if their games are so totally different, and those who prefer one over the other and project one or the other making a bigger difference.

View every Vikings first round draft pick through the years.

I would absolutely trade back and maybe twice to get a total of three second-round picks.

I would grab at least one cornerback, a defensive tackle, and Clayton Tune at quarterback.

I would grab interior linemen with the third or fourth pick, assuming we had to give one for a second round as compensation for an earlier trade.

Grab edge and running back with later picks assuming a [Dalvin] Cook trade and [Za'Darius] Smith trade.

— Kevin Opdahl in West Chester, Pennsylvania

Kevin is making moves, and I'm intrigued. I don't know what it is, but there's just something about draft-day trades that can be so exciting.

I know that everyone ( included) hypes up the anticipation for going on the clock, and some fans were not thrilled with moving down the draft board in the first round last year.

Several of the positions suggested are among those that have been linked to the Vikings in mock drafts.

The 2021 NFL Draft involved the Vikings picking up two third-round picks after agreeing to move from 14 to 23 (and land Christian Darrisaw). The success of Darrisaw has to carry that trade, however, since the selections acquired were used on Kellen Mond and Wyatt Davis, who did not pan out.

The fifth-year options that teams have on players selected in the first round is part of the value for a team in utilizing its selection in that round, but if compensation is high enough, teams may be willing to trade out of the first. And, if a team believes there are multiple players capable of making substantial impacts as second rounders.

Good afternoon from the Eastern Branch of Vikings Nation here in warm and sunny Carlisle, Pennsylvania! My question is two-fold: Is there a possibility that we see the Vikes sell high on Danielle Hunter to obtain draft capital that we then parlay into a three-way trade? Outcome contingent on both trades occurring, trades as follows…

Trade 1

Saints receive Danielle Hunter

Vikings receive picks 29, 71, and a 2024 fourth

Trade 2

49ers receive Kirk Cousins from the Vikings and send Trey Lance to Vikings

Ravens receive Trey Lance from Minnesota and picks 29, 87 and a 2024 first from the Vikings

Vikings receive Lamar Jackson and a 2024 second from the Ravens


49ers: Kirk Cousins

Ravens: Trey Lance & two firsts and a third-round pick

Vikings: Lamar Jackson and a 2024 second

Let me know what you think and thanks, Skol Vikings

Very Respectfully,

— John Miller in Carlisle, Pennsylvania

And I thought Kevin was wheeling and dealing with his proposal of picks until I read through John's offerings.

Either of John's proposed scenarios might reach "blockbuster" designation from the pundits, but especially the second.

The Ravens opted for the non-exclusive franchise tag and appear to be at an impasse with the quarterback. That gives other teams a chance to sign him to an offer sheet that would require surrendering the equivalent of two first-round picks, or working out a trade with him.

Leverage in the negotiations could change if factors change.

I'm not sure the Cousins for Lance 1-to-1 equals out, given what Cousins has provided for a decade in the NFL. Not saying Lance won't — just saying that doesn't seem like all that a QB of his ability could command in a trade.

The idea of sending Hunter for that many picks, but then using the acquired first to send to Baltimore means potentially having less opportunity to provide what Hunter has for Minnesota for years unless it opted for edge rusher at No. 23. Replacing someone like Hunter is probably easier said than done.

Ultimately, any trade is in the eye of the beholder, and those who are making deals have more expertise than I do.

My name is Rick, a long time Viking fan now residing in Florida. I think it was cool what the team accomplished last year. My question is this. I read the trade proposal with the Eagles, and I think you should tweak it a bit. We get the Eagles first-round pick in 2023, Eagles get our second- and fourth-round picks this year, our second and fourth next year and our third in 2025. Eagles get five for one, and accumulate precious draft stock, and the Vikings keep precious first-round picks and are free to draft a quarterback this year and still have your first-round draft picks in tow.

— Rick in Leesburg, Florida

In case you missed it, Rick is referring to a proposal by's Chad Reuter that was included in our Version 6.0 Mock Draft Tracker. Reuter had suggested Minnesota sending its 23rd overall pick, as well as a 2023 third-round and a 2024 first-round pick to the Eagles in order to vault up to the 10th overall pick. Reuter had the Vikings using that selection on Will Levis.

That seems like a steep cost on the surface because of the value of first-round picks, so Rick's offering to add the number of picks but stretch out the impact over rounds and years.

There's all kinds of interesting draft value chart content on the web. mentions Jimmy Johnson's "classic valuation model," assigning the No. 1 overall pick at 3,000 points with a drop off to 2,600 points for the second pick and further devaluations to 600 points by the end of the first round. The site also notes a valuation chart created by Rich Hill of Pats Pulpit. Hill starts his valuation at 1,000 for the top pick and drops it to 717 for the second pick and only 190 at the end of the first round.

The latter is more akin to a version published by CBS Sports' R.J. White that places the value of the top pick at 900+. White explained factors he considered.

The Johnson chart values the No. 10 pick at 1,300 points and the 23rd at 760. The Hill chart positions it at 369 for the No. 10 spot, compared to 245 at No. 23. White's chart values No. 10 at 367.7, compared to 211.59 for No. 23.

For the sake of brevity, we'll just use the Johnson chart to see if the proposal by Rick is a near balanced equation. It's impossible to know where the Vikings picks would land in 2024 and 2025, so I'm just using the range of values for those rounds.

Second-round values span from 590 with the opening pick of the second night to 276 but are 420 at the 48th overall pick in the middle. Third-round values rank from 270 to 120 (before compensatory picks start at the end of the third) and are 195 at the midpoint. Fourth-round values rank from 88 to 39 (before a comp pick at the end of that round) and are 58 at the midpoint.

So, let's just go with 420 + 58 for 2023 and 420 + 58 for 2024 and add 195 for the 2025 third-round pick. That comes out to 1,151.

Based on points alone, one could say the draft valuation would be in favor of making the deal — if the Vikings were going to land in the middle of the draft order or worse. But, if they were going to land higher, that valuation could change considerably.

There are other impacts like maintaining enough selections to maneuver the board.


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First of all, I like Kevin and Kwesi, "The K team," they're my dudes. I hope they are here a long time! BUT this year, we can't draft things we already have, such as WR, got tons of them and great TEs. If we are going to trade up, get the best offensive lineman in college. We can draft a QB? But, we got Cousins another year, and the team is going to draft a QB, this year. We can get a great one next year, since next year, no one would be drafting a QB! We can trade up, but we need to get THE BEST offensive lineman available. If he falls to pick 23, OR then get a QB, if someone we love at QB falls to us, same as the best corner available! DON'T draft players we already got! I hope this year Kwesi, knows the value of each draft picks, from trade from 12 to 32, we should had gotten their 2nd pick and GAVE UP NOTHING!!!!! Brad Holmes outsmarted us!

ON trade, make a trade, move up ONLY, if that player is an impact player and can help us win now! We've only got five picks. Like we got [T.J.] Hockenson from the Lions, we could have kept the second round and just gave up a third and fifth round. Kwesi don't know the value of first and second rounds! If there's no one that can make an impact, keep the 23*rd* pick.

OR, trade Cousins to Colts for the 4th overall (in deal, Cousins gets a contract), we'll swap 23 for 4*th*, BUT, we get a 2024 first in the trade! Then we get our QB of the future!

Keep Cook and [Za'Darius] Smith, ask them for just a $2 million pay cut, and tell them next year, they would be UFA!!!!!!

— Drew B.

Quite a bit to get to from Drew, who starts with emphasizing his desire to focus on perceived needs instead of wants. Many believe Minnesota is in good shape already at receiver, tight end and quarterback.

I understand that line of thinking, but I'm not sure that other teams aren't going to be interested in quarterbacks in 2024. Personnel departments have grades on this year's group, as well as next year's likely draft class, so the potential pool of players can help inform decisions made in the now.

Minnesota is returning all five starting offensive linemen from 2022, as well as key reserves who contributed last season. That doesn't mean that position — or any — is ever ruled out from drafting, but that also might open another needs-vs.-wants/best player available discussion.

Just based on draft valuation chart in the previous reply, Detroit picked up 1,640 points (12th and 46th), compared to 1,430 (32nd , 34th and 66th picks), but the trade enabled Minnesota much more opportunity to navigate the draft board. Hypothetically, if the Vikings had Lewis Cine as their top safety, and one option is drafting him at 12 and the other is selecting him at 32 after acquiring additional picks, then that adds elements worth considering.

I'd imagine Adofo-Mensah and the personnel department trust the system they develop for valuing trades, including the one that made Hockenson a Viking.

Trading from 23rd to fourth doesn't necessarily guarantee the Vikings landing a QB of the future. Both Cook and Smith are under contract beyond 2023, so that final proposal might not be too enticing to many people.

Just read Reuter's 5 draft day trades that make "sense." Always interesting to speculate the possibilities. We are set at QB for at least one more season? Maybe for the future, it might make "sense" to trade up for a QB this year. Considering we don't have much as of today in terms of current draft capital, it doesn't make "sense" to me. Maybe trading Dalvin Cook to Buffalo for their 27th plus whatever else we can get makes "sense"? The Cook brothers might be enough additional firepower to allow the Bills to play in the Super Bowl against the Vikings. Someone will finally have to win their first Super Bowl. That will give the "pundits" something to talk, write, speculate about for several weeks.


— Noel in Bayfield, Wisconsin

Reuter used his suggested trade in his mock draft (we mentioned above) for an article published on April 3.

He explained his rational with the following:

"Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O'Connell might covet one of the top quarterback prospects in the class, with the idea that said prospect will take over for Kirk Cousins, who turns 35 in August and is headed for free agency after the 2023 season. Philadelphia GM Howie Roseman has made at least one trade involving a first-round pick in all but one of the past seven drafts. If the Eagles aren't interested in something like the above deal, the Vikings could still call other teams in the middle of the first round if they like one of the available signal-callers.

"Moving from the late first round into the top dozen overall picks for a quarterback is not unheard of — in addition to the Bears jumping from No. 20 to No. 11 for Fields, the Chiefs (who grabbed Patrick Mahomes after going from No. 27 to No. 10 overall) and Texans (who selected Deshaun Watson after going from No. 25 to No. 12) made similar moves in 2017. Kansas City had a solid veteran on the roster (Alex Smith) when trading up — a similar situation to the one in which Minnesota finds itself. Not that I'm projecting [Will] Levis or [Anthony] Richardson to be as successful as Mahomes, but they both certainly have the potential to be longtime starting quarterbacks in the NFL."

I think Noel is correct in the draft capital being limited, especially with Minnesota not having a second-round pick. If the Vikings did make a move as offered by Reuter, there would be little dispute as to how much the team wanted that player.

Mahomes will be the gold standard of pipe dreams that actually delivered results. His talent is proven, but he also went to a franchise that had good infrastructure for developing a young quarterback and some impressive skill players that could put pressure on opposing defenses rather than opponents having the upper hand in pressuring a young QB.

For a while, it looked like the Vikings and Bills were on their way to meeting and ending/extending Super Bowl misery. After that instant classic in Week 10, I can't imagine any neutral fan would have minded that matchup for all the marbles. Yet both of those franchises keep trying to kick down the door.

Question for you, would the Vikings be in a position to trade both Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook for Lamar Jackson? Two reasons for this: I like Kirk as a person; however, history as the starter for the Vikings has shown that he is unable to get them to the next step. If you were presented with the question, 'Which QB has the greatest chance to lead the Vikings to the Super Bowl over the next two years, Kirk or Lamar?' I believe that most would say Lamar. Also, Dalvin is a great player; however, Alexander Mattison could reasonably step into his place as the starter (and) we also have a few younger RBs that could make an impact. Given these details, could Kirk's and Dalvin's contract match up/equal something near what Lamar wants…?

— Craig C. in Phoenix, Arizona (long-time Vikings fan)

Without getting too far into the weeds on financials, it seems like the money component of that might be able to align, but that's sending two Pro Bowlers — the Vikings leading passer and rusher for each of the past five seasons to the Ravens for a former NFL MVP who has led Baltimore in passing and rushing for each of the past four seasons.

I'm not sure that blowing up the backfield combo of Cousins and Cook simultaneously to land Jackson equals out on the football spectrum.

Es cada ves mas descepcionante el draf el año pasado podian tener al mejor safety y prefirieron 2 mediocres que ni siquiera jugaron ya ni quiero verlos tengo mas de 50 años de descepciones el QB es lo mas importante y siguen con coussins otro mediocre que nunca va a ganar el super bowl en fin escogi un equipo mediocre

It is increasingly disappointing in the draft last year [the Vikings] could have the best safety and preferred two mediocre [players] who did not even play, and I do not want to see them. I have more than 50 years of disappointment. The QB is the most important, and continuing with Cousins — another mediocre — who will never win the Super Bowl in order choose a mediocre team.

— Hector H.

Editor's note: I took Latin in high school and am very limited in my knowledge of Spanish, so I used an online translator. I sincerely appreciate Hector's email.

I know the draft hype train, that we all ride on ( included), emphasizes the importance of every pick. There's an admitted desire for immediate gratification from picks, but players take time to develop — some more than others, and it's always helpful if a player can be on the field.

It is not fair to hold Cine's injury in Week 4 against the Saints in London against him. It was an unfortunate occurrence, but he's said to be doing well in his recovery, and I'm looking forward to him taking the field.

Andrew Booth, Jr., battled through injury in college, which could have affected his draft stock and kept him on the board into the second round. He also was sidelined during his rookie season, but the team is looking forward to seeing what he can do when healthy.

Cousins' productivity is already among Vikings franchise leaders. That says a bit about how hard it's been for Minnesota to establish a sustained starter at the sport's most important position.

Those numbers were accompanied by a new level of team success in 2022 when the team was 13-4, and he had a significant say in those outcomes, tying an NFL record for most fourth-quarter comeback victories in a season (eight).

I remain intrigued about Cousins having consecutive seasons with the same play caller and offensive system for the first time in his Vikings career.

Every year, they never focus on the men in the trenches. If you can't protect the quarterback to give him time — I use a stopwatch, you only giving an average of 3 seconds to make a play, My question is Why? Never makes sense what they do. Very upsetting.

— Will in Hastings, Minnesota

The Vikings have utilized multiple high picks on offensive linemen, beginning with Brian O'Neill (second round) in 2018, followed by Garrett Bradbury (first in 2019), Ezra Cleveland (second in 2020), Christian Darrisaw (first in 2021) and Ed Ingram (second in 2022).

That's all five of last year's starters who are under contract for 2023 and/or beyond. There are plenty of teams who envy what Minnesota has in O'Neill and Darrisaw at the bookend spots, but we've seen some foes capitalize and create pressures on the interior in previous seasons.

That group having another full offseason together should be valuable.

As far as the defensive line, Minnesota has usually relied on free agency at the interior and edge positions, with Danielle Hunter being the highest drafted player within Minnesota's front seven since 2015. He was a third-round pick (88th overall).

Will the Vikings draft a CB in the first round of the draft?

— Andrew C.

Many mock drafts have projected cornerback to the Vikings, including several of the ones first published this offseason and throughout the process.

We'll have Version 7.0 posting on on Tuesday and see how many people are projecting that position.

It seems like every year there are projections that are followed by, let's call it, "creative modifications" that boost dialogue before some prognosticators return to their initial predictions.

So much can happen between now and the first day of the draft, as well as between the Panthers going on the clock and Minnesota's scheduled selection. Thankfully, in the grand scheme of things, we won't have too long before we find out.

Reminder: Send your own Letter to Bud

In tribute to Bud Grant and his legacy, and in continuing the "Letters to Bud" theme, we invite fans to mail in letters sharing the impact Coach Grant had on your Vikings fandom, your personal life, your childhood and so on.

Letters received may be published through Vikings content platforms in a future special edition of "Letters to Bud." We also will pass along the letters to Coach Grant's family.

If you would like to participate, please send letters to the below address.

Lindsey Young, Vikings Entertainment Network

Re: Letters to Bud

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Eagan, MN 55121

Here are the links to the previous content series in case you'd like some inspiration (chapter explanations are on the left, and the Adobe Spark features are on the right).