Vikings VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman has seemingly taken on a greater role with Leslie Frazier as head coach, at least while the cameras are running.
Setting aside the fact that there are many smokescreens being put out there this time of year, Spielman seems to have made a genuine promise to Vikings fans that they will be on the move come draft day.
Translation: They will partake in the risky practice of trading picks.
It seems like many fans, especially those who comment on Vikings Gab, would be in favor of the Vikings trading backwards to pick up additional picks. After all, the team has a number of needs that are begging to be addressed.
In addition to trading backwards, it seems that Spielman may also be targeting his favorite prospects and would not hesitate to move up at spots to grab them.
So, it seems that both the Vikings front office and fans of the organization alike are warming up to the idea of some draft day excitement in the form of deal making. However, I can’t help but wonder about the possibility of a train wreck if these expectations become reality.
I want to be clear, what I am about to type might seem like a laundry list designed to somehow attack Spielman, but that is not my intent. I know he commands a great deal of respect around the league for his abilities as a scout and thorough research and attention to detail. When staying put, Spielman has had great success with the Vikings, drafting two offensive rookies of the year and all.
However, the area of his resume that concerns me is his continuous struggles to make successful trades.
Consider that while with Miami, Spielman oversaw a trade of two first round draft picks in exchange for a Ricky Williams that went AWOL on them after one season. Consider that Spielman “solved” Miami’s post-Marino quarterback woes by trading a second round pick for Daunte Culpepper and another second round pick for A.J. Feeley. He also traded a third round pick for Lamar Gordon who started two games, rushed for 64 yards, fumbled once, and then moved onto a barely noticeable stint with the Rams.
Perhaps the one that stings the most for Fins fans is the trade that sent defensive end Adewale Ogunleye to Chicago in exchange for Marty Booker and a third round pick which turned out to be Channing “biggest moron on Earth” Crowder. Ogunleye was a force for the Bears over six seasons recording 42 sacks, 12 forced fumbles, and even an interception. At the time, Spielman boasted that Booker should be considered a first round talent but spent four seasons with the Fins and never eclipsed 800 yards receiving.
You don’t hear anyone complaining about the blockbuster trade that sent a first round and two third round picks to Kansas City in exchange for Pro Bowl pass rusher Jared Allen. However, that doesn’t mean Spielman hasn’t made some sketchy trades in his time with the Vikings.
Look at last year alone. The Vikings made the rare inter-division trade with the Lions, allowing them to snag the player they really coveted in Jahvid Best. The Lions got a very good playmaker out of the deal while the Vikings ended up with a cornerback seemingly made of glass (Chris Cook) and a defensive end that likes to party and grab cops in the “groin area” (Everson Griffen). They also got Mickey Shuler Jr. who didn’t last long and is now with the Dolphins. The Vikings also gave Detroit a fourth round pick in the deal which ended up being offensive tackle Jason Fox.
Later on in last year’s draft, Spielman decided to trade up 11 spots in the second round by providing the Houston Texans with their third round pick in exchange. The Vikings coveted Toby Gerhart who ended up with a fairly pedestrian rookie season, which might be being kind. The Texans used the picks to further move around in the draft.
In 2009, the Vikings struggled to bring youth into the roster, as they only ended up having five draft picks after trades for Sage Rosenfels and Kelly Holcomb (and moving up to get Jasper Brinkley) left them a bit short.
In 2008, the Vikings again only had five picks, mostly due to the Jared Allen trade. That year, the team also gave up a 7th round pick for Brooks Bollinger, gave up their fourth rounder to move up and get Tyrell Johnson, and gave the Packers extra picks to move up and get John David Booty while the Packers used one of our picks to get Matt Flynn who has shown a lot more promise than Booty ever did.
This year the Vikings are short a third round pick after trading for Randy Moss, and we all know how wise that investment ended up being. They do, however, have an extra fifth round pick because of the trade that sent Sage Rosenfels and Darius Reynaud to the Giants. I also expect them to get two late round compensatory picks for allowing Chester Taylor and Artis Hicks leave in free agency last year.
That means the Vikings are expected to have nine draft picks at their disposal this April. Much chatter centers around the possibility of obtaining even more should the Vikings fall back out of the #12 spot.
My concern, however, is that Spielman will continue to do what he has always done, and make valuable draft picks simple disappear into thin air and limit the number of picks this team makes in April. If they are all quality picks then the quantity matters less, but given his track record, I would almost prefer that the Vikings stay put and test the “accuracy by volume” theory.
Regardless of how things shake out, I do know one thing…
We’ll be covering all of the excitement during a Vikings Gab Live Chat on all three days of the draft.