Vikings general manager Rick Spielman took part in last weekend's Arctic Blast snowmobile rally on Lake Mille Lacs. As is the case when the media get Spielman out in the open, he was served up a few obligatory questions. While Spielman is well-versed in not giving away the team's plans, he did make an interesting comment.
Spielman indicated that he wants to have at least 10 draft picks. We aren't going to see another three first-round pick drafts (perhaps not again in most of our lifetimes), but with the Vikings currently sitting with eight picks, getting to 10 or more will require some trading.
Almost by definition, his comment would seem to erase the potential that the Vikings are going to trade up to get a quarterback. To do so would require a slew of picks likely to what Washington gave St. Louis for the No. 2 pick in the 2012 draft (the No. 6 pick and Washington's second round pick in 2012 and Washington's first-round pick in 2013 and 2014). There is no way Spielman will mortgage that much of the future to draft an unproven quarterback.
There is growing speculation that the Vikings may pick up one of the missing picks needed to hit double digits by trading Christian Ponder – either before the draft of a mid-draft trade. What Ponder's draft value would be is highly speculative. Any selection the Vikings could potentially get for Ponder likely would be in the final day of the draft, perhaps relatively deep into that final day.
Spielman has been in contact with Matt Cassel and his agent, so it seems as though the option of bringing Cassel back for a little more money with the promise of a more legitimate opportunity to win the starting job is on the wish list. The biggest question now is two-fold. If the Vikings are willing to trade Ponder, what would his value be?
What may be more likely is that the Vikings could look to move down in the first round of the draft this year to acquire more picks. Sitting at No. 8, there is a lot of room for jockeying.
Teams tend to fall in love with a player who keeps going undrafted and feel they have to pull the trigger to get the player they covet. The No. 8 pick is the approximate starting point for secondary moves upward. If you're in the top five picks, the tendency, barring a can't-turn-down offer, is you don't trade out of the top 10. You drop, but not too far to eliminate the most-wanted list. No. 8 is a much different story.
If you look historically at teams trading down out the bottom end of the top 10, the swath of acceptable drops is much wider. This can best be explained by the time-honored draft value chart. If St. Louis wants to trade out of the No. 2 spot with logical combatants Oakland and Cleveland – two moribund franchises in desperate need of someone to sell jerseys – the Rams could again make a killing. The difference between picks held by the Browns and Rams is 800 points (2,600 points for the No. 2 pick and 1,800 for the No. 4 pick) and a 900-point difference between No. 2 and No. 5. Cleveland, thanks to dumping the slow-moving contract of Trent Richardson, has the 26th pick in the first round, which could make such an improbable deal possible. The Browns would probably have to throw a third- or fourth-round pick to make the deal palatable to the Rams, who harvested the Redskins for primo talent and could help make St. Louis viable in a division that already includes the last two Super Bowl entrants from the NFC.
The Vikings' pick at No. 8? According to the chart, it's worth 1,400 points. The difference between pick No. 8 and pick No. 16 is just 400 points. The Vikings could cut a deal with Pittsburgh at No. 15 as long as the 14th pick in the second round is thrown in.
Barring players the Vikings simply feel they can't do without, Spielman will get his 10 draft picks. How he does it? Spielman remains cucumber-cool on the answer to that, but don't bet against him getting his 10 picks. If he's insistent on having 10 or more picks, he'll make it happen.
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.
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