In the next Viking Update mock draft, we are taking the Zubaz-wearing draft nerd card one step beyond the pale. We're projecting a trade. Football purists blanche at the thought of mock drafts on principal, because nobody really knows the thought process in the different war rooms and speculation and opinion are just that – grounded in nothing more than a theory that makes sense to you.
But, if the theory makes enough sense, in mock terms and realistic terms, it bears considering.
In the years that VU has done mock drafts, I have only projected one trade before – and it was in the second round. For rationale to postulate the latest trade theory, we projected that Denver would trade its second-round pick to Green Bay to acquire Javon Walker. It happened. We have some history on our side.
Without the benefit of a collective bargaining agreement, it's hard to get a handle on how trades will work. In recent years, even if a team wanted to trade out of the first three or four picks, they couldn't find a trade partner because the cost of such a deal was a double-whammy to the team moving up – not only did it surrender multiple picks, but it had to pay a king's ransom for the player acquired. It seems that though trades made in this year's draft will likely involve picks in this year's draft, which will make the draft value chart all the more important.
For those unfamiliar with the draft value chart, it assigns points to every pick in the draft. The NFL claims it is something akin to voodoo – they won't deny it exists, but they won't sign off that it is practiced by any of their members. It is amazing how, when complicated, multi-pick draft trades get made, how closely the numbers on the draft value chart match up with the picks that get exchanged. At times, the numbers have matched exactly, which isn't easy to do. In our scenario, the stars align to make it happen.
The Vikings have always been active on draft weekend. They move up. They move down. They move picks. However, this time around, they don't have a third-round pick. If they stand pat, they will make one pick on Draft Thursday and one pick on Draft Friday. Under our mock draft scenario, the Vikings can erase a mistake and get a player that will make sense to the fan base.
The Vikings are currently slated to pick No. 12 in the first round. Sitting five picks behind them at No. 17 is New England. The Patriots need a defensive end and, with six picks in the first three rounds, they can surely address the position. But, with that many picks, they can move up as high as they want to in order to get one they covet. The top 10 picks are pretty much spoken for. The Vikings at No. 12 would be an ideal landing spot for the Patriots, especially if the recent trend being promoted is correct – that Da'Quan Bowers will still be available at No. 12.
What would the Patriots have to offer to get from No. 17 to No. 12? The pick they "stole" from the Vikings for the month Randy Moss returned to the purple and gold fold. According to the draft value chart, the No. 12 pick is worth 1,200 points. The Patriots' pick at No. 17 is worth 950 points – a disparity of 250 points on that scale. The pick the Vikings traded to the Patriots – No. 74 overall – is worth 220 points on the draft value chart. There is a plus-minus scale that make such trades palatable and 30 points falls probably falls within that window.
If the Vikings believe they need to take a quarterback in the first round, Jake Locker isn't worth the 12th pick. Moving down to No. 17 would reinstall the third-round pick and leave just four teams to pass on Locker in the interim. Detroit and St. Louis, who sit at Nos. 13 and 14, aren't going to take a QB because they used the No. 1 overall pick in the last two drafts to select their franchise quarterbacks.
Next are the Dolphins. Miami isn't thrilled with Chad Henne, but, as it stands, running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are both unrestricted free agents. Without the benefit of free agency, the Dolphins' running game is unintimidating with fullback Lousaka Polite the leading rusher under contact by the Dolphins heading into draft weekend. He was fourth on the team with 62 rushing yards on 26 carries. Brown and Williams combined for 1,407 yards on 359 carries and former Viking Tyler Thigpen had 11 more rushing yards running for his life than what Polite had. If there is any reason for Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram to land with a team, it's Miami.
The only other team between the Vikings and Locker at No. 17 is Jacksonville. The good news for the Vikings is that, as always, the Jags need defensive end help. Perhaps no team has swung and missed Rob Deer-style more than the Jaguars. You can go back to the day Jack Del Rio took over as head coach and defensive end has been a draft priority. 2011 is no different, other than the fact that the defensive end class is as deep at the top as it has been in the last 20 years. They're going to be coming off the board in earnest in the first round and the Jags will likely be in on the party.
If the Vikings want Locker to be the QB of the future, this scenario is a perfect storm. They get the Moss draft pick back, get the player they want and get him for less than they would if they picked him at No. 12. It's a win-win.
Will it happen? We're batting 1.000 on predicting mock draft trades (hey, 1-for-1 counts), so let's keep our fingers crossed.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.