Over the years, Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman has earned the nickname Trader Rick because he has a penchant for being like a jittery kid on a long car ride – he just can’t sit still.
Every year, the NFL assigns teams seven draft picks, with a total of 32 compensatory picks sprinkled throughout the middle and late rounds. Considering that the Vikings have a penchant for making more than their allotted number of picks – Spielman has gone on record that he wants to have 10 picks in each draft – he has earned the reputation of being a man willing to deal when the offer is right.
With all of the focus being placed upon the players the Vikings added to the roster, one of the elements of draft weekend that was largely overlooked is the one that will be a focal point in the 2017 draft. The Vikings already have nine picks in that draft.
In the weeks leading up to the draft, Viking Update broke down the current roster of the Vikings before guys like Laquon Treadwell, Mackensie Alexander and the six Day 3 guys were brought into the fold. At that point, a case was made that, barring injuries or salary-cap related releases, an argument can be made that, aside from the top three rookies coming in, a “name” player would have to go in order to make room for any of the other five drafted rookies.
Trader Rick loves his double-digit draft picks. If he was selecting for the Browns this year, he would have been bouncing around like a 5-year-old who downed a Red Bull four-pack. Then again, if you’re picking for the Browns, 25 picks could potentially all make the team as the organization continues to be poster child for sub-mediocrity.
Spielman saw the writing on the wall. The composition of the 2016 Vikings roster was largely in place. When Miami came calling with a trade offer to attempt to get back into the third round of the draft, Spielman wasn’t looking to move to down to accumulate picks for 2016. He wanted picks for 2017.
“A lot of time you see the maneuverability going up and down and the draft will have to do with how we are positioning ourselves to try to move up in rounds,” Spielman said after his Day 3 trade.
Next year at this time, the Vikings may have a much different look. They have a lot of players whose contracts expire at the end of the 2016 season and the team could be moving on from several of them. The 2017 draft is where Spielman and the scouting staff will have room to add players that will help restock the shelves.
When the Vikings cut the trade with Miami, they received a sixth-round pick in last weekend’s draft and a third- and fourth-round pick for 2017. The deferred gratification of the move now gives the Vikings two third-round and two fourth-round picks next year that can either be used to draft more players or can be used as ammunition to strategically move up to grab a player in next year’s draft – another Spielman trademark of climbing back into the first round of the draft.
The success the Vikings enjoyed in 2015 is what Spielman and the coaching staff is anticipating is just the start of a sustained period of success. Their first pick this year came at the 23rd slot. The hope and the expectation is that next year’s first-round pick is going to going to be lower than that. Stockpiling additional picks would give the team the ability to make an upward move if a player they covet is still on the board as the first round plays out.
The headlines of the 2016 draft centered on the players the Vikings added to a team that won the NFC North last season. But the biggest move they made to assure longer-term success may not be confined to the talent they added, but rather laying of the foundation to improve the team next season by moving off a pick this year to add two more picks next year, when the odds of those players making the roster is likely to be greater.
At the present time, the Vikings don’t have anything to show for their third-round pick, but next year? That’s another story, thanks to Trader Rick.