Vikings Rumors: Studying the Top Defenders, Snagging a Center, and Getting Fleeced in a Trade

NFL: Combine
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Since we’re officially into the portion of the year when Vikings rumors are arriving fast and furious, we’ll be highlighting some of the purple rumblings.

The “Vikings Rumor Wrangle” is a series that keeps readers informed on what’s being whispered about in Vikings Land. In this iteration, we discuss the Vikings spending a lot of time studying the draft’s best defenders, the unusual amount of startable depth at center, and getting fleeced in a draft trade.

Vikings Rumors: 04.10.2024

Rumor #1 — The Vikings are Spending a Lot of Time Studying the Draft’s Best Defenders

Indeed, they certainly are.

On Monday, the NFL’s insiders were pushing the Vikings updates out at breakneck speed. Some of that simply flows from the time of year; after all, the draft is a bit more than two weeks away. But then the reality is that there was an intensity to the news updates. A lot of highly-regarded players were being tossed into the mix. Consider the names:

Dec 2, 2023; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Dallas Turner (15) celebrates after a sack in the second quarter against the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Plus, the news about these meetings with high-profile defenders isn’t where the conversation stopped. Josh Frey relayed some of the details of other visits in a separate PurplePTSD piece.

Truth be told, there are several layers of motivation for the meetings. The first and most obvious (which is to say nothing of being the most important) is to glean further insight about these players. Minnesota has a shot at sticking at No. 11, so they’ll need to be ready to draft one of the players who will be there in that moment.

Another motive comes in the capacity to further convince the NFL that the Vikings aren’t desperate to trade up for a QB. Does the abundant news about interest in these excellent defenders have a cumulative effect? Is there a sense that Minnesota appears more serious than ever about not trading up, instead being quite happy with hanging around in their original draft slot?

If so, then the Vikings will have a bit more leverage during the draft when it comes to trade possibilities.

Rumor #2 — The 2024 NFL Draft Has Unusual Depth at Center

Brandon Thorn is arguably the leading authority when it comes to online analysis of the offensive line. So, his words carry some weight.

Take a look at the thought from Thorn: “As I finish the later round OL prospects [in] this class the center group has become the clear-cut best I’ve seen over the last four drafts of watching all the OL. Over their rookie contracts, I don’t think it’s crazy to say we can see as many as 10 guys start games at the pivot.”

Nov 5, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Minnesota Vikings center Garrett Bradbury (56) and quarterback Joshua Dobbs (15) hug after a victory against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Notably, that analysis from Thorn coincides with the Vikings meeting a promising young center. Tossing it over to Mr. Pelissero, who clarified on Monday that “LSU IOL Charles Turner III, who impressed at the Senior Bowl,” was visiting the Vikings.

Garrett Bradbury has developed into a pretty good player, which is an improvement over his initial seasons when he really struggled. Any chance Minnesota begins looking toward life after Bradbury? Choosing a center now will give the Vikings the benefit of bringing the rookie along slowly, possibly with the aim of handing over the C1 job going into 2025.

Per OTC, Bradbury carries a $5,769,882 hit into the current season. Next year’s number will take a modest step forward, swelling to $6,064,000. A simple cut in 2025 would toss $3,622,000 back into the Vikings’ budget, but that’s an avenue that’s contingent on having a replacement.

Rumors #3 — The Vikings Will Get Fleeced in a Trade Up the Board

In fairness, Rick Spielman didn’t say “fleeced,” but the team’s former GM did say Minnesota was in a position where they may need to “overpay” (as Josh Frey details).

The trio of Sam Darnold, Nick Mullens, and Jaren Hall don’t inspire widespread optimism. All have some upside and yet the basic reality is that the QB position has a lot to prove. Seeing one of these players offer strong QB1 production in 2024 would be at least somewhat surprising (with many people saying “majorly surprising”), pushing onlookers toward projecting a trade up the board by Adofo-Mensah & Friends.

The thinking is that the Vikings will be held hostage in trade negotiations (an idea that gets explored in Rumor #1). Either pay our price to pry away No. 3/No. 5/No. 7 or be compelled to move through the season with the options who are currently in house.

Jan 7, 2024; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) celebrates after a play during the second quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Truth be told, it’s impossible to know how things will shake out. Even the top decision makers in Eagan don’t have 100%, ironclad certainty. At times, the NFL can be an unpredictable place, leading to Minnesota’s overt desire to maintain flexibility (a word that’s been repeated consistently).

Spileman offers a good thought, though, when discussing the trade cost for a QB: “If they honestly believe this is the future and they go out and get him, and he has a very successful career and gets them to the Super Bowl, who gives a rat’s tail whether ya gave up three 1st-round picks or not? No one cares.”

So, Spielman sees the upcoming trade as being tremendously costly. But then he also sees tremendous upside if the pick works out even while acknowledging that whiffing on a draft choice would result in a ton of criticism.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.