Vikings' trading could just be starting

The anticipation of the Vikings' first-round pick coming at the end of the round came to an anti-climax Thursday, as the team traded out of the round. But the team is now armed with picks that will be coveted by other teams, making moves up or down in the coming rounds much more of a possibility.

"With their pick at No. 30, the Minnesota Vikings select …"

That was the line Vikings fans were waiting to hear from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in the final minutes of Monday's prime-time draft. Instead, what they heard was that the Vikings had traded their first-round pick – making a deal with the Detroit Lions to acquire a better pick in the fourth round and a seventh-rounder to allow Detroit to get into the 30th position, where the Lions selected running back Jahvid Best.

Vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman addressed the assembled media Thursday night at Winter Park to discuss the decision to move out of the 30th pick. He said that during the week of preparation and conducting internal mock drafts that many of the scenarios involved moving out of the 30th pick.

While the Vikings were on the clock, they were juggling four offers from other teams, but opted to go with the Lions' offer because it not only would give them the second pick in Friday's portion of the draft, but also the second pick in the fourth round (they flip-flopped the second and 30th picks in the round as part of the deal). With the groundswell of trade activity late in the round, Spielman said that, while the Vikings fielded a lot of calls Thursday, the same scenario could play out Friday.

"It was very exciting up there," Spielman said. "About the 20th pick, we started getting a lot of calls and felt that the Detroit deal was the best deal we had and felt very strongly that, because of the depth of this draft, potentially picking up an extra pick. The biggest thing out of the whole trade scenario is that (the Vikings) are the second pick in tomorrow's draft, which is huge. Then you look at Saturday and (we will) have the second pick in Saturday's draft. Coming from the bottom of those rounds coming up to the top of those rounds – especially when the day kicks off – we're very excited about that. Because the way our draft board is developed, we have a lot of options as we go into tomorrow and probably will have a lot going into Saturday as well."

Spielman said that, after going through a series of in-house mock drafts, he had four players projected at about the same draft position and all four of them were still on the board as the first round wound its way down to the Vikings. By moving back just four slots, at least one of those players would still be available – with a better pick coming in the fourth round and an extra pick coming in the seventh round in return.

"That was another reason to make the trade, and to improve your draft picks and your draft status in each round was a huge success for us. We have four options," Spielman said. "I know probably tomorrow the phone is going to be buzzing again. When you're up there that high, especially when the day kicks off (both Friday and Saturday), we're going to be a pretty attractive pick. There will be potential trade downs over the next two days to accumulate more picks."

Spielman said that while the Vikings had several scenarios that included trading out of the round, they also made one attempt to move up in the first round.

"If there was a player at (No.) 30 that we were definitely sold on that we said there was no way we would trade out of this pick to have that player, then we wouldn't have done it," he said. "But I think with us having the options to look at tomorrow that we were able to still potentially get a player that we would have taken at 30 and help ourselves with our slots."

One of the keys to making the deal was the depth of talent in this year's draft. He said there wasn't much of a difference in his talent evaluation between someone in the final eight picks of the first round and the first eight picks of the second round. Although the 30th pick carries the tag of technically being a first-round selection, the difference between the pick they traded and the pick they acquired wasn't that much.

"You're picking right outside of the second round anyway," Spielman said. "There are going be a lot more options. There is the first tier of players and now when you get into the second round – (picks from) 25 to 40 – I don't know how big a difference there is in talent. That will tell itself three years from now, but as you stack your draft board, most of those of players are pretty equal in ability."

The Vikings' move out of the first round was far from assured. Spielman admitted that the Vikings had discussions about moving up in the round, but not far. He wouldn't mention the name of the player involved, but the general consensus among those covering draft weekend was that it was either cornerback Kyle Wilson, who went one pick in front of the Vikings, or nose tackle Dan Williams, who went with the 26th pick to Arizona. Part of the reason to believe that mystery player was Wilson was an answer to a question about how the signing of veteran Lito Sheppard added potential trade scenarios to the Vikings' options at No. 30.

"Adding Lito gave us a lot more flexibility," Spielman said. "It gave us a lot more comfort in not taking a player if we didn't have to or if that particular player wasn't going to be there. We weren't forced to take a pick then."

So, in the end, the Vikings didn't come away with a player in the first round of the 2010 draft, but the wheeling and dealing may continue throughout the final two days of the draft. Armed with a premium pick in both the second and fourth rounds, Spielman may be working his magic by moving up or down in the subsequent rounds, playing the annual draft chess game to maximize the talent selection process.

"That's one thing that's a huge advantage," Spielman said. "If there's a player and you're sitting in the bottom of the second (round) and you want to go up and get that player, now you have some ammunition to do that as well. It just gives you a lot more flexibility as you finish out this draft being able to move up or back – which is something that we really haven't had since I've been here."

While Vikings fans didn't get what they might have wanted out of Thursday's portion of the draft, don't be surprised to hear that they are concocting deals throughout the next three or four rounds to fill in the gaps they need. With flexibility like he hasn't had with the Vikings before, this could turn out to be a hugely interesting draft for the Vikings – even if the first day was marked by inactivity.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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