Vikings among those anticipating trading game

Last year's draft set a record for first-round trades and everyone expects more of the same this year. Even outside of the first round last year, nearly 50 percent of the picks changed hands. See the numbers from previous drafts and the Vikings' anticipation for this year.

Just watch all those NFL mock drafts get blown up pick by pick as Thursday night progresses. In many cases, the team that is supposed to select a prospect in a certain slot won't even be the team making the selection if all the predraft speculation holds true.

From agents to analysts to general managers, it seems everyone is anticipating another banner year for trades. And that's coming off a record-setting 2012 NFL Draft.

Last year, a record 19 trades were made in the first round, the same number of trades in the first rounds of the previous three drafts combined. In fact, it was the first time since 2002 that more than nine first-round trades were made.

The Vikings were part of two of those first-round moves, trading their No. 3 overall pick to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for the No. 4 overall selection and picks in the fourth, fifth and seventh rounds. Later in the first round, it was the Vikings moving up, trading away their second- and fourth-round picks to secure Baltimore's No. 29 overall selection and take safety Harrison Smith.

And this year?

"The phone has been – whether you believe me or not – but I'm telling you, it's been the most active it's been in a while, because of where we're picking," general manager Rick Spielman said. "And I don't know the reason why, but there are a lot of teams that potentially are jockeying from the top of that second round. There are some teams jockeying potentially in the bottom of the first round to come up to one of our picks at 23 or 25, and that's something we're going to be very open to.

"I think if we decide to go ahead and trade back in this draft, because of the depth at the positions of need that we have, we can still get a very similar player and potentially pick up some things, either this year or next year."

Despite reports to the contrary, Spielman said he doesn't see the Vikings trading up in the first round, adding, however, "that could change."

Speilman said there are about "8,000 different scenarios" with their two first-round picks, and putting his own mock drafts together has been "like putting a Rubik's Cube together."

While last year was the first time in a decade that double-digit trades were executed in the first round, it didn't stop there. The Vikings were actively trading picks throughout the draft. In addition to acquiring fourth- and fifth-round picks for moving down one spot, to No. 4 overall, they acquired an additional fourth-round pick this year from Detroit for trading a fifth-round pick last year, and an additional sixth-round pick from Tennessee this year for a seventh-round pick last year.

The Vikings also got into a Day 3 run on players, including a kicker run that left them feeling desperate (and lucky) to get Blair Walsh in the sixth round. That came only after two kickers were selected in the fifth and sixth rounds before the Vikings' sixth-round choice of Walsh.

"Then we knew we had to take Blair at the sixth or we weren't going to get a swing at him," Spielman said. "It was the run on the corners, bottom of the second, top of the third and we end up getting Josh Robinson because the Montana kid (Trumaine Johnson was drafted No. 65 overall) and the Vanderbilt kid (Casey Hayward was drafted No. 62 overall) … both went right before that. So those are things that you may go in planning to say, ‘Hey, let's wait and see if we can get him in the second or third round,' but all of a sudden there's a run on (that position). Then you say, ‘Well, we had better take him now or else we may not get another swipe at a guy we like later.' There's always those different runs that happen during a draft and you have to be very flexible. You can have a pre-game plan, but you have to be flexible once the draft starts."

From 1970 to 1984, only twice were there double-digit trades in the first round, and both times it was only 10. From 1993 to 2002, only once was there single-digit trades (in 1998) in the first round, but during that stretch the number never exceeded 15. In 2011, during the NFL lockout of veteran players, there were only four first-round trades made, but last year's 19 first-round trades set the high-water mark for the last 40 years.

In all last year, of the 221 picks that could be traded – compensatory picks can't be dealt – a whopping 45.7 percent of those picks (101 total) changed hands at least once.

Spielman doesn't see the first-round dynamic changing much this year, either.

"I think it's going to be a very active trade, this year's draft in the first round," he said.

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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