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Who do you think the Vikings will take at No. 14.?
— Mike Boswell in Goodwin, South Dakota
Might as well start this Mailbag off with the million-dollar question from Mike as the 2021 NFL Draft is just three days away.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer has joked over the years that he doesn't have a crystal ball, a line he referred to when routinely asked about player injuries.
But wait! Zimmer then revealed in October 2017 that he does indeed have one after a Twin Cities psychic sent him one, so maybe we can peer into that for some insight.
All jokes aside, I went back and looked at this Mailbag from January that asked what positions could be of need during the 2020 offseason. Back then, we chatted about needing a starting guard, a new presence at defensive tackle, plus a quarterback prospect.
I think it's fair to say that defensive tackle is not as much of a need now as it was in January, especially with the signing of Dalvin Tomlinson and the return of Michael Pierce.
Guard is obviously still in play, even with the re-signing of Dakota Dozier and the trade for Mason Cole. The final product of the offensive line is still in flux, and some of that depends on where Ezra Cleveland plays in his second season. For what it's worth, Zimmer said this offseason that Cleveland is at right guard for now on the whiteboard depth chart.
Quarterback remains an interesting option, and a topic I've covered in a few recent Mailbags. To sum it up, I think the Vikings would consider a quarterback at No. 14, but one being available there could also lead to a trade down.
With all that said, I'm not going to sit in Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman's chair and predict an actual player to the Purple.
However, I do think the Vikings are in a great spot at No. 14, and I'll have an article out on Vikings.com on Wednesday explaining why some of the top draft experts from across the country believe so.
But if I had to guess right now, I'd opine that Minnesota focuses on the trenches early, either with an offensive lineman or an edge rusher. And I expect that first-rounder to be a key player in 2021 and perhaps earn a starting role based on how things shake out. Linemen have been popular picks at 14 in recent drafts.
The Rams, Bears, Cardinals, Seahawks and Dolphins have limited draft picks. Seattle especially. How many 3s and 4s would it take for the Vikings to get a second-rounnder? Could it happen? Should it happen?
— Gerald Goblirsch
An interesting and very-timely inquiry from Gerald on this one, as there have been a few questions from fans asking about the possibility of the Vikings moving around in the draft.
The answer to that is yes, especially when Spielman is in charge, as we all know his penchant for wheeling and dealing during the draft.
But let's take a detailed look at a possible scenario based on one of the teams Gerald mentioned. I'm going to go with the Dolphins here, mostly because they are in the AFC and also have 10 picks, meaning both teams would have ample draft capital to move around if they prefer.
This chart I found on Twitter does a great job giving you a quick look at how many picks each team has, plus the total value of those picks. If you need a crash course on that last part, this Draft Pick Trade Value Chart from Pro Football Reference is great for explaining how each pick is assigned a value each draft.
But let's get into a possible trade scenario, and let's aim for trying to get Miami's 50th overall pick, which would provide the Vikings with a second-rounder.
In this scenario, and assuming no other trades, the Dolphins would still make their picks at Nos. 6, 18 and 36, and the Vikings would still make their pick at No. 14. (While Minnesota could certainly trade back from 14 to 18 and perhaps get the 50th pick, Gerald asked about trading up with the collection of mid-rounds picks the Vikings have, so I'll try to do that).
Based on the draft trade value chart, the 50th pick is worth exactly 400 points. Minnesota's pair of third-round picks are worth 340 total points, as the 78th pick is 200 points and No. 90 is 140 points.
Given the Vikings needs across the roster, I doubt Spielman will want to part with both of them. But let's put the 78th pick in the trade scenario for now.
In the fourth round, I'm also throwing in picks No. 119 (56 points) and No. 143 (35 points), to bring our draft value to 291 points. I'm also going to incentivize the offer by adding a 2022 fifth-rounder.
So the Vikings would get the 50th overall pick here, while giving up a third-rounder, two fourths and a future fifth. Minnesota would then be able to get to make two selections in the top 50, potentially to help out both sides of the ball.
For what it's worth, this proposed trade was accepted by the Dolphins in the Pro Football Focus Mock Draft Simulator. Minnesota gained a pick worth 400 points but did not give up an equal amount, but Miami would now have seven total picks in the top 150 spots based on our deal.
Does that mean it would be offered or accepted in real life? Certainly not. Both teams might think it's a terrible deal. Or both could think it's a fair deal.
This is just a veryhypothetical scenario to explain what would need to happen if the Vikings wanted to keep their first-round pick but also find a way to move into the second round.
The Vikings need to draft No. 69 from Alabama. What do you think? He is the answer to our offensive line. He has the leadership skills and is super aggressive.
— Ryan in Fort Collins, Colorado
Ryan is referring to Alabama center Landon Dickerson, who is a mammoth man at 6-foot-6 and 333 pounds.
He was a standout center for the Crimson Tide in the past two seasons (after transferring from Florida State), especially in 2020 when he was a First-Team All-American and First-Team All-SEC selection and won the Rimington Trophy as the nation's best center. Dickerson shared the SEC Jacobs Blocking Trophy with teammate Alex Leatherwood, helped Alabama on its quest to winning another national title game and anchored an offensive line that won the 2020 Joe Moore Award as the best offensive line in the country.
So, there's no doubt he can play and is talented, but Dickerson is also coming off a torn ACL in the SEC Championship in December. He also had injuries affect each of his three seasons with the Seminoles (2016-18), so his medical evaluations will be crucial for teams.
But would he be a fit for the Vikings in the mid rounds?
Dickerson's NFL.com draft profile can be found here, with draft expert Lance Zierlein noting that the lineman "has true guard/center flexibility, depending on what a team is looking for. Dickerson has average range and reactive athleticism at the second level, but he is capable of short pulls and has the body control technique to help open holes in a downhill attack."
Based on those observations from Zierlein, that would make me believe Dickerson would fit what the Vikings look for in an offensive lineman, which are usually athletic and mobile players. Plus, his leadership experience certainly wouldn't deter teams away. NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger told Vikings.com in this piece that Dickerson is "my favorite player in the whole draft." That's high, high praise from Baldy.
Again, Dickerson's medical checks will be important, especially since he's coming off a torn ACL from just four months ago.
View photos of reactions and announcements on draft day when Vikings were selected.
But if it's healthy, perhaps he would be a target for teams in the second round, and maybe an option for the Vikings if they were to pull off that hypothetical trade scenario above.
I hope everyone enjoys the exciting madness that is the NFL Draft, which we'll cover live all three days, and be sure to check next week's Mailbag for a recap of the three-day extravaganza.