Rick Spielman, general manager of the Minnesota Vikings, seems to prefer rebuilding the team through the draft as opposed to signing big-name free agents. Since being named the vice president of player personnel for the Vikings in 2006, Spielman has been involved with seven drafts—in five of them the Vikings gained an extra draft pick. Over the last four drafts, the Vikings have averaged 9.25 picks—two more than than the seven each team starts with.
This week in a story from the Star Tribune, Spielman indicated that the team's goal is to obtain at least 10 draft picks each year. Imagine how much he would have loved the Vikings' first five seasons when the draft lasted 20 rounds. Even when the NFL draft dropped to only 12 rounds from 1977 to 1992, Spielman would have enjoyed wheeling and dealing to pick up a couple extra picks in the 10th round.
Heading into the 2014 NFL draft, the Vikings already have picked up an extra pick. They received Seattle's third-round pick to complete the trade for Percy Harvin. That means Spielman is looking to add another two selections.
The best chance for the Vikings to gain an extra pick in the draft, would be to exchange their eighth pick in the first round with another team and gain a pick later in the draft. This would solve the problem of reaching for a player too soon with higher-ranked players still on the board.
According to the latest mock draft from Walter Football, as in almost every mock draft, quarterbacks Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles are all off the board by the time the Minnesota Vikings are on the clock.
That puts the Vikings in a similar position as in 2011, when they selected quarterback Christian Ponder with the 12th pick. The results since that draft appear to support the premise that the Vikings reached with that pick. Interestingly, Walter Football's mock draft does not have the Vikings selecting quarterback Derek Carr from Fresno State—or any other team in the first round for that matter.
That gives the Vikings plenty of options to move down and gain an extra pick. Here's a look at what options the Vikings might have by swapping the eighth pick in the draft with some of the teams below them in the first round.
According to B/R featured columnist Brandon Croce, Buffalo's selection in the first round is outside linebacker Khalil Mack. If you believe the mock draft from Walter Football, Mack will be off the board with the sixth overall pick to the Atlanta Falcons.
The Vikings would have an option of drafting outside linebacker Anthony Barr from UCLA and filling one of their needs. Another option would be to swap picks with Buffalo, giving the Bills a chance to draft Barr and fill the need at outside linebacker. According to the draft pick calculator from Calculator Soup, the Vikings should gain Buffalo's fourth-round pick in the exchange.
This would still give the Vikings plenty of options with the ninth pick. The top cornerback or defensive tackle would still be on the board. Minnesota made a very similar deal with Cleveland in 2012 when they swapped the third pick for the fourth.
In that deal, the Vikings received three extra picks, gaining a fourth-round, fifth-round and a seventh-round pick.
The Tennessee Titans are in a very similar position as the Minnesota Vikings: a very good running back with a questionable quarterback taken in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft. That year, the Titans selected Jake Locker with the eighth pick in the draft—a mistake they won't make this year.
According to B/R featured columnist Chad Minton, the Titans also have holes at linebacker and on the defensive line. As Minton points out, the latest mock draft by Rob Rang from CBS Sports has the Titans selecting outside linebacker Anthony Barr from UCLA. Like Walter Football's mock draft, Rang has Atlanta drafting Khalil Mack with the sixth pick.
Mack and Barr are the top outside linebackers in the draft and passing-rushing specialists. Last season, Mack finished 10.5 sacks and 19 tackles for a loss, Barr had 10 sacks and 20 TFL. If the Titans want to ensure they have a shot to select Barr, they might be looking to move up in the draft. The Vikings, Bills and Detroit Lions may all have Barr on their radar.
The swap of the eighth and 11th picks should be accompanied with at least a third and seventh-round pick.
According to B/R featured columnist Andrew Dannehy, the Chicago Bears need to retool their defense. One player targeted is Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert. Depending on how badly the Bears want to add the 6'0'', 200-pound senior, the Vikings might be able to swing a deal.
According to Footballguys.com, a fair deal in a swap of the eighth pick with Chicago for their 14th, would include the Bears' third and fourth-round picks. This would instantly give Rick Spielman his goal of 10 draft picks.
Besides Gilbert, this would also give the Bears a shot at outside linebacker Anthony Barr—still assuming that Walter Football's mock draft holds and outside linebacker Khalil Mack is off the board. They could also have the opportunity to move ahead of the New York Giants and select the top defensive tackle in the draft—either Louis Nix from Notre Dame or Timmy Jernigan from Florida State.
The 14th pick in the draft would still give the Vikings a chance to draft the defensive tackle the Bears don't select or—if the Bears decide to add a defensive lineman—one of the top two cornerbacks in the draft. Either Gilbert or Darqueze Dennard from Michigan State, the top cornerbacks in the draft according to CBS Sports, could still be available.
All right, I admit it, I'm still frustrated with the Herschel Walker trade in 1989. The deal cost the Vikings eight draft picks, including their first-round picks in 1990, 1991 and 1993. It propelled the Cowboys to three Super Bowl titles in four seasons in the early- to mid-'90s.
Swapping the eighth pick in the draft for Dallas' first-round pick, either the 16th or 17th overall selection depending on the flip of a coin with the Baltimore Ravens, would include extra picks. According to Calculator Soup, one possible deal would include the Cowboy's second-round and seventh-round picks.
If Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman wanted to go for quantity in place of quality, the deal would include Dallas picks in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth rounds in 2014. That's four extra picks, giving the Vikings a total of 12 picks in the draft.
According to B/R featured columnist Chris Imperiale, the Cowboys need to focus on defense. They might be looking to add a defensive lineman or a linebacker. Again, as pointed out previously, with the eighth pick in the draft, one of the top two outside linebackers should be available. Both Khalil Mack from Buffalo and Anthony Barr from UCLA are projected as either outside linebackers or defensive ends—giving the Cowboys some flexibility.
The deal would also position Dallas ahead of the Giants in the first round, and allow the Cowboys to steal a potential player on New York's wish list. According to Walter Football's latest mock draft, the Giants select defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan with the 12th pick. Imperiale lists Jernigan as an instant starter for the Cowboys.
With the 16th or the 17th pick in the first round, the Vikings would still have plenty of options—plus some extra draft picks to plug some holes or add some depth. Options include defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman from the University of Minnesota.
Last year the Minnesota Vikings had three first-round draft picks. With the third of those picks, No. 29 overall, they were able to add wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. All Patterson did was break the franchise record for kick return yardage with 1,393 yards and tied the team record with two returns for a touchdown—a record set by Percy Harvin in 2009.
The other two picks weren't too shabby either. With the 23rd and 25th picks, they found a replacement for veteran defensive tackle Kevin Williams and a starting cornerback in Xavier Rhodes.
A swap of first-round picks with any of the teams drafting between 20 and 32, could provide a huge bounty for the Vikings.
According to Calculator Soup, a swap for the eighth pick in the draft for the 20th, should net the Vikings at least an extra second, fourth, fifth and sixth-round pick—a gain of four picks with one deal. Another deal of equal value would give the Vikings an extra pick in the second and third rounds. Even though this deal has one fewer pick, the players available in the second and third rounds would have more impact on the roster.
At this point, Rick Spielman would have plenty of fodder, in extra draft picks, to make even more deals, possibly moving up in the second or third rounds. Plus, the Vikings could still have the opportunity to draft Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr.
As a late first-round selection, Carr would be much less of a reach than drafting him with the eighth pick—plus with some extra picks later in the draft, there will be opportunities to compensate for a possible bad decision in the first round.