Why the Vikings should trade down in the draft

It could be a very wise move for the Vikings.
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The elephant in the room for the Vikings at the NFL Draft is if they will be able to do enough to address the offensive line. Everyone knows they need to do it and it's on GM Rick Spielman to get it done. 

It's obvious that Spielman and his draft team have many players pegged on their big board and the big three linemen that could still be available when it's their turn to pick at No. 18 might very well be Andre Dillard, Jonah Williams and Cody Ford. 

But let's say all three are off the board when it's Minnesota's turn, would it be in the Vikings' best interest to trade down in the draft to acquire more picks?

According to Charles Davis' latest big board for NFL.com, there's three linemen who are projected to be taken from picks 19-32: tackle Greg Little (No. 23), center Garrett Bradbury (No .31), tackle Dalton Risner (No. 32).

There's a good bet that the Vikings will take two linemen in the first three rounds of the draft. If they were to trade down, they would obviously get a team's first-round pick and likely another mid-round pick to sweeten the deal.

That would give the Vikings four picks within the first three rounds, meaning they could still take multiple linemen and two other players based on talent or need as well. That's a win-win if you ask me. 

Let's say the Vikings move down a few pegs in the first round and take Bradbury. That means Pat Elflein would likely shift to guard – where he was a second team All-American during his junior season at Ohio State – and Bradbury would play his natural position of center.

With just one stroke of the pen, the Vikings could improve two spots on their line by making one pick in the draft.

These seven teams will be picking after the Vikings: Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Baltimore, Houston, Oakland and Philadelphia. If those teams feel the need to move up to take someone who might not be there when it's their turn, they could come calling.

Oakland's the team that probably intrigues me the most. Remember, they have three first-round picks this year (No. 4, No. 24 and No. 27). They obviously won't trade the fourth overall pick, but they could leverage the other two to move up.

Plus, John Gruden has clearly demonstrated he'll do whatever he damn well pleases. Last week he sent his scouts home because he and GM Mike Mayock "don't know who to trust."

Maybe a team like Seattle or Baltimore wants to bolster their receiving corps and if D.K. Metcalf or T.J. Hockenson is still available they would be inclined to move up. 

This draft class is also very deep on the offensive line. Between offensive tackles and guards, ESPN has 15 players among the best 96 available.

Spielman isn't afraid to move around in the draft either. In 2012, after taking Matt Kalil (sigh) with the fourth overall pick, he traded back up to grab Harrison Smith.

He did the same thing the next year when he grabbed Cordarrelle Patterson with the No. 29 pick. Same goes for 2014, when he swung a trade with Seattle to take Teddy Bridgewater.

Those are examples of trading back into the first round to get players and not trading down, but clearly Spielman likes to be aggressive on draft day and that's a good thing.

He also has a history of finding diamonds in the rough after Day 1. 

  • Danielle Hunter, No. 88 overall, third-round pick.
  • Everson Griffen, No. 100 overall, fourth-round pick.
  • Stefon Diggs, No. 146, fifth-round pick.

The more mid-round picks at Spielman's disposal the better off the Vikings will be.

Yes, the Vikings could take the best player available at No. 18 while still upgrading another position. But if the draft shakes out differently than they think and they have an opportunity to swing a trade to improve their team on one of the biggest nights of the year, Spielman should consider it.

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