Perhaps it was the confidence that came with having all seven draft picks make a difference last year. Despite first-round gaffes the last two years, the Vikings earned kudos and respect last year for coming up with talent throughout the draft of 2003. Maybe that is why coach Mike Tice has talked openly about trading down to acquire more picks.
But should he? Tice, who has at times been compared to a "Rainman" type of character counting toothpicks with his numbers analysis, might want to let history be the judge of moving down or even out of the first round. While the Vikings were extremely lucky that E.J. Henderson remained on the board into the second round, the team's luck in recent years in the second round has been spotty at best.
In recent years, the Vikings have had more misses than in the second round. Raonall Smith, Willie Howard, Fred Robbins, Michael Boireau, Kailee Wong and Torrian Gray have all been second-round busts since 1997. Fortunately, the Vikings had first-round picks each of those years to make up for the duds in Round 2.
When the Vikings have traded out of Round 1 in the past, the results have been disastrous -- Robert Harris in 1992, Carlos Jenkins in 1991, Mike Jones in 1990 and David Braxton in 1989 as top choices jump to mind.
But perhaps the closest comparison would take the Vikings back to 1981. That year, the Vikings were convinced the draft was deeper than most and talent could be had well into the second and third rounds -- a mantra repeated by Tice earlier this year. That team had barely made the playoffs the year before -- on a miracle Hail Mary with no time left vs. the Browns -- and the Purple People Eaters were being dismantled. An opportunity came up and the Vikings jumped at it.
The Vikes traded the 18th overall pick to the Colts for two second-rounders and a fifth-rounder. Like Tice, the brain wizards of the day were fawning over the depth of the draft and their ability to find players. The result? The Vikes had three picks in the third round and came away with WR Mardye McDole, LB Robin Sendlein and RB Jarvis Redwine. None of them had anything to speak of as far as a pro career and the Vikings found their move down to be painfully short-sighted.
Maybe Tice, a student of NFL history, should learn from these previous mistakes. First-rounders are much more of a certainty than second-rounders. As far as Vikings history goes, the track record between the first and second round is enormous. So before Tice goes bragging up how deep the draft is and how well the Vikings could do stockpiling picks in the middle rounds, maybe he should look at his own team's history before opting out of the first round.
Vikes Should Reconsider Trading Down
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