EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings and General Manager Rick Spielman have been known to be movers and shakers in recent years during the NFL Draft.
With the Vikings sitting at pick No. 30 in the first round of the 2018 draft, some around the league believe Minnesota is in a prime position to once again make a draft-day trade.
ESPN draft expert Todd McShay said on a recent conference call that he wouldn't be surprised if Spielman and the Vikings decide on Thursday night to move back from the first round and into Friday's second round.
"They certainly could. They're in a really good spot considering how strong their roster is top to bottom," McShay said. "Yes, guard is a need. But there are plenty of high-level, starting guards in the NFL that have come from Day 2, Day 3 and undrafted free agents.
"Knowing Rick, he's going to sit there and wait. He certainly is not averse to moving around," McShay added. "He's done that and he's been very efficient, if you've studied his drafts over the years, taking advantage of teams that need to move up or are in a panic to move up and getting value for that."
NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah said he wouldn't be shocked if Minnesota doesn't end up making a first-round selection.
"Not at all, especially if you view it as there is a good clump of guys there," Jeremiah said. "There is a formula a lot of personnel departments will kind of use.
"They come up with it on the fly, but it is usually, 'Hey, we've got three or four players at this position and we're comfortable with [that] and we feel reasonably confident that we can trade back seven or eight spots and one of those guys will be there,'" Jeremiah added. "You're constantly kind of playing that game in the draft room."
If the Vikings were to trade back, what would be their reason for doing so?
In addition to potentially picking up an extra draft pick or two, Minnesota could still snag a top-tier player early in the second round if they move back.
Former Tampa Bay General Manager Mark Dominik, now an analyst for Sirius XM Radio, said another team's desire to have a fifth-year contract option for a late first-round pick could also come into play.
"My mindset for them is sometimes you can look at different positions, meaning this draft isn't deep at tight end. It's good on the interior of the offensive line, but instead of getting maybe the fourth or fifth-best tackle you might get the second-best guard or the best tight end in the whole draft class," Dominik said during an interview with Vikings.com at the Annual League Meeting. "You've got to look at that and make sure you don't move them too far off the board, but I think the most important part is that fifth-year option at pick 30 and what's the value of that?
"Because, obviously, teams are going to be behind you in the second round that may want to come up and get the fifth-year option on a player like a running back since you guys have Dalvin Cook," Dominik added. "As another club, you've got to understand who has interest in pick 30, so it's more of being prepared to move back and finding out the value of that pick. That's a critical part and making sure you don't push your needs past where they are."
McShay offered his own take, saying the Vikings could trade out of the first round if they feel like they can get the same player at pick No. 35 or 40 that they can get at No. 30.
"You take even a bad deal to move back a few spots and get the same player and take advantage of a team wanting to move up," McShay said.
If the Vikings are looking at offensive linemen — and most experts in Mock Madness 6.0 had them beefing up in the trenches — they could decide to trade out and still land a player they covet.
"I think Rick will sit around and wait and see what happens. This is a really good guard class," McShay said. "There's a lot of guys, I think, that could be in that range at 30, but you could also see in the second round when they pick at 62 that there could also be a good guard there, as well. If you look at this class, Will Hernandez [of UTEP] will be gone, obviously [Notre Dame's] Quentin Nelson will be gone in the top 10., Connor Williams, who I project as a guard out of Texas, will likely be gone but could still be there. Isaiah Wynn is kind of in that area coming out of Georgia, Austin Corbett from Nevada is an underrated player.
"I think those guys, in my opinion, are all in the late-first, early-second round range. Braden Smith from Auburn is another one who could be in the second round that could figure into their plans," McShay added. "I think when you're in that good of a position, and there are very few teams who are, you wait to see what's there because if a player at a position falls to you that you never expected to be there that's different from offensive line, you just take advantage of it. If not, check to see if the phones are ringing. And if not, check to see the best available player on your board, and if it lines up at guard, it will probably be one of those names I just mentioned."
McShay did offer one bit of cautious advice when talking about potentially trading back, noting that Minnesota could trade back with a player or two in mind, only to see them go just before the Vikings are slated to pick.
"The thing you have to try to figure out, and this is the thing every team looking for offensive linemen is trying to figure out, is because there is not great depth this year, especially at tackle, when is the run going to happen?," McShay said. " 'We have to make sure we're in the middle of the run or at the front of the run and not in the back end of the run and left out.'
"I think because there are about six guys in the tackle class you view as first or second-rounders, another six guys at guard and another four guys at center," McShay added. "The tackle class is light, the guard class is solid, the center class is solid, the Vikings just have to figure out what guy is going to be available."
Minnesota has one pick in the first (30th overall), second (62nd), third (94th), fifth (167th) and seventh rounds (225th), along with a trio of sixth-round picks (204th, 213th and 218th). The Vikings do not currently have a fourth-round selection.