It has been a long time since the Minnesota Vikings have been projected to be locked into a position as they are for Thursday night.
It's a wide receiver. Bank on it. Fill in a name in pencil, but mark the position in Sharpie.
Because of the way general manager Rick Spielman stacks a draft board – horizontally rather than vertically – a case can be made when the Vikings are on the clock that they have three or four players at different positions with essentially the same grade, which explains why the Vikings never claim they’re drafting for need, but consistently get their most pressing needs covered in the first couple of rounds.
If anything, Spielman has built a history of making trades after he has one pick in the house already and, more times than not, he has traded back, not forward if he moves on his first pick.
Numerologists may want to start paying attention at this point.
In 2014, the Vikings traded back a couple of spots, adding a fifth-round pick and took the guy they wanted anyway – linebacker Anthony Barr.
In 2010, the first year of the three-day draft, the Vikings tried to get cute in hopes other draft rooms would reload and rethink overnight on the players still left that they could put themselves in the catbird seat for attractive trade offers. They traded out of the back end of the first round when the expectation was that having the second pick of both Day 2 and Day 3 would spark competition for the picks. That didn’t happen. The trades didn’t materialize, but the Vikings used the fourth-round pick acquired from Detroit in the original trade and landed Everson Griffen.
If you believe in the even-number theory, it would lend itself to believing the Vikings are going to trade back again. It could happen, given the nature of how players come off the board.
Every year, the analysts who project guys to go in the top 10 to 15 picks are annually stunned that a player lasts as long as he does. The Green Room drama is part of draft night, as a disappointed college fiancée sees her wedding diamond shrinking every 15 minutes – see video of Brady Quinn’s disgruntled fiancée in 2007 to get a more accurate depiction.
Aaron Rodgers is epic. To a lesser extent, guys like Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Leinart got a lot of uncomfortable face time when the first couple of picks didn’t have the commissioner mispronouncing their names.
Spielman made no bones about the fact that he had run more than 1,000 draft simulations to try to come up with as many potential scenarios that could play out and none of them included having defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd being available at No. 23. It would like Laremy Tunsil still being on the board if you believed any or all of the thousands who do mock drafts every year.
Yet, in every instance in the last three even-numbered years, the Vikings and Spielman have traded back to make their first pick and traded up to make their second choice.
In 2010, after selecting Chris Cook with the second-round pick acquired from the Lions, the Vikings traded up with Houston to give their second- and third-round picks to inexplicably select Toby Gerhart, who, at best, would be a caddie for Adrian Peterson.
In 2012, as the first round was nearing a close, the Vikings saw a Golden Domer they liked and were convinced wouldn’t make it to them in the second round. They pulled the trigger and got back into the first round and took safety Harrison Smith.
In 2014, the opening-night free-fall of Teddy Bridgewater got all the way to the last pick of the first round. With the CBA provisions of teams being able to exercise a fifth-year option if a first-round lives up to his billing, the war room dropped its bombs and cut a deal with Seattle to get the chance to pick him.
You can’t trade down in the first round every year and keep your fan base happy. You can’t trade up to make your second pick every year without sacrificing depth. But, it would appear you can do that every other year in Minnesota and it works out fine.