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Lunchbreak: ESPN Touts Vikings Haul After Trade with Jets as 1 of Draft's Best

Trading down in the NFL Draft is a money-saving move that can really benefit a team … if the player you're targeting remains on the board.

ESPN's Seth Walder opined, "If ever there was a year to trade down, it was this one." He wrote:

With suggestions that there was less information on prospects this season due to circumstances dictated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the additional uncertainty presumably led to a flatter talent curve than usual. That means that first-round picks were likely worth less than usual and that middle-round and/or late-round picks were worth more than usual (because the likelihood of a gem falling was higher than normal).

With that said, Walder broke down the five trades deemed “most valuable” in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Walder topped his list with the Giants-Bears trade that sent New York's No. 11 pick to Chicago in exchange for picks Nos. 20 and 164, in addition to 2022 first-round and fourth-round picks.

Ranked second-best by Walder was Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman's trade with the Jets. The swap sent the 14th and 143rd overall selections to the Jets, and Minnesota received the 23rd, 66th and 86th picks.

After leading these rankings a year ago, the Vikings again took advantage of the edge gained in the trade market. In this case it was an incredible deal for them, particularly considering the player they ended up with: Christian Darrisaw, who was a logical fit for Minnesota at pick No. 14 and ended up falling to No. 23.

For the Jets, this looks like an error. The overpay is by almost exactly pick No. 66 itself – had that pick been removed, this trade would have been "fair." I'm not arguing the Jets shouldn't have drafted an offensive lineman to protect Zach Wilson. On the contrary, I think they should have drafted more of them.

If we want to put this trade in the context of players, think about it this way: If you were the Jets, for the same price would you rather draft USC guard Alijah Vera-Tucker or Oklahoma State tackle Teven Jenkins and BYU tackle/guard Brady Christensen? Jets [General Manager] Joe Douglas chose the former, but history indicates the latter is more likely to pay off. And that's not even counting the possibility that Darrisaw or Vera-Tucker might've slid to No. 23.

At the time of the Jets selection, there was a 21 [percent] and 34 [percent] chance of those players making it to No. 23, respectively, according to ESPN's Draft Day Predictor.

Behind the Vikings-Jets transaction, Walder highlighted the Bengals-Patriots trade in the second round (Cincinnati being the value winner), the Panthers-Texans trade in the third round (Carolina) and the Giants-Dolphins trade in the third round (New York).

Adrian Peterson ranked 2nd-best RB drafted in Round 1 since 2000

It seems like top-level running backs can be found throughout the draft, and every season it's interesting to see which rookies at the position make the biggest impact.

CBS Sports' Bryan DeArdo pointed out that "first-round running backs have had varying levels of success," so he delved into and ranked every running back drafted in Round 1 since 2000.

View the Vikings rookie records for most rushing yards during a game and season.

Vikings fans will be quite familiar with No. 2 on DeArdo's list: Adrian Peterson, whom Minnesota selected with the No. 7 overall pick in 2007. DeArdo wrote:

The fifth-leading rusher in NFL history, Peterson is a three-time rushing champion and member of the NFL' All-2010s Team. In 2012, ["All Day"] was named league MVP after rushing for 2,097 yards, the second-highest total in NFL history. In 2015, Peterson became the second-oldest player in league history to lead the NFL in rushing. At age 36, the future Hall of Famer is hoping to land on a Super Bowl contender for the 2021 season.

Some might wonder why Peterson wasn't at the top of the list, but it's hard to argue against the fifth overall selection in 2001, LaDainian Tomlinson.

A 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee, Tomlinson led the NFL in rushing two times and rushing touchdowns three times. Tomlinson was named league MVP in 2006 after scoring an NFL-record 31 touchdowns. Three years earlier, Tomlinson became the first running back to catch 100 passes in a single season (incredibly, Tomlinson was not named to the Pro Bowl that year). The seventh-leading rusher in NFL history, Tomlinson posted eight consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons en route to being named to the NFL's All-2000s Team.

Interestingly, the only other time in the past two decades that Minnesota selected a running back in Round 1 also was 2001, when the Vikings tabbed Michael Bennett 27th overall. DeArdo placed Bennett at No. 28 on his list of 48 total players.

Bennett played for the Vikings from 2001-05 before spending time with the Chiefs (2006-07), Bucs (2007-08), Chargers (2008-09) and Raiders (2010).

A Pro Bowler in 2002, a freak injury (he injured his foot while running on a treadmill) hindered Bennett's productivity for the remainder of his career. While he would never come close to duplicating his success of 2002, Bennett still managed to carve out a 10-year career. He finished his career with nearly 5,000 all-purpose yards and 19 touchdowns.