Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
The Vikings would do best to trade down and acquire several draft picks so as to take advantage of what this draft has to offer in Minnesota's positions of need. They may be able to then draft the best player available while keeping on track with with their need profiles.
Their highest priority needs look to be at wide receiver, defensive tackle and inside linebacker. With additional needs at guard and the potential depth problems at secondary and outside linebacker, the Vikings have quite a bit to do to have a successful draft.
While many feel the Vikings should go after a quarterback in the draft, it's clear that the Vikings will stay the course with Christian Ponder and won't spend another high pick on a highly touted quarterback to compete with Ponder. Given the dearth of talent at quarterback in this year's class, it's safe to say that they'll ignore quarterback in the earlier rounds.
An interesting problem with the draft, however, is how tiered the talent is. Without a clear A.J. Green or Julio Jones-caliber player, the receiver class generally seems to showcase a number of just-decent prospects with similar skill sets, without too much dropoff from the first round to the bottom of the second round.
For defensive tackle, the prospects for a 4-3 capable interior linemen are functionally similar for the Vikings. The fact that there are two defensive tackles a clear head-and-shoulders above the rest doesn't matter to a team picking so low, unless Ohio State's Johnathan Hankins begins to fall relative to other prospects in the post-bowl evaluation period.
The rest of the tackles will have to separate themselves from their competition during the Senior Bowl and the East-West Shrine Game, with DTs Shariff Floyd, Sheldon Richardson and defensive tackle Kawann Short all looking to vault themselves into the first round.
Similarly, second-day prospects for inside linebacker should be somewhat similar to the prospects the Vikings could choose from in the first round, given their position, although the separation here is much higher.
With that in mind, the Vikings might want to trade out of the first round entirely and pick up a second round pick and some change.
While historically, moving from the 23rd pick or so directly into the second round is worth an early second, third and fourth round pick, according to the NFL value trade chart and past four years, it is unlikely they could grab such a bounty by dealing their pick.
In this case, the Vikings could trade with a team like the Cardinals, who could grab one of the few true left tackles left on the board as well as a quarterback in the first round after that type of trade. Instead of getting the next three Cardinals picks, however, they would more likely end up with a second round pick, a fourth round pick, and a third round pick the next year.
One option could be to trade down to a later first round pick, then trade down into the second round instead of trading directly into the second round, like New England has on occasion.
Here, they could trade down to a team with few needs like Denver or San Francisco and then again to a team like Cincinnati that could also use more quality than quantity. In this scenario, the return would be closer to projected values, with an early second round pick, a late third round pick and another fourth round pick.
The second scenario is the more optimistic, but also less likely and feasible. Assuming Spielman can pull off the first trade, the Vikings will be in a good spot to massively upgrade the roster at key positions.