3 Mock Draft Machines, 3 Trades for a QB: Gauging the Cost of a Minnesota Move to 5th Overall

Sep 3, 2023; Orlando, Florida, USA; LSU Tigers quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) gives a thumbs up during the first half against the Florida State Seminoles at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Chargers own the 5th pick. Crucially, they also have Justin Herbert taking snaps from the center, meaning they won’t be using that selection on one of this year’s young quarterbacks.

So, the overlooked LA football team looks like a prime candidate for trading teams. If Jayden Daniels is still on the board after the Cardinals get finished at 4th overall, then whoever is calling the shots in LA will likely have some trade options. The question, at least for Minnesota’s purposes, will rest in how much it costs to hop into the draft slot.

Dec 11, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) celebrates after the game against the Miami Dolphins at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, the Carolina Panthers — a team that has had a very challenging year — decided to hop up from 9th to 1st. The cost was significant. Chicago gave up the 1st pick; Carolina gave up the 9th pick, the 61st pick, a 2024 1st (which ended up being 1st overall), and a 2025 2nd. Oh, and they also tossed in D.J. Moore, who is a legit WR1.

In other words, Bears GM Ryan Poles absolutely crushed that trade. Carolina’s end looks like a spectacular failure, perhaps prompting this year’s QB-needy teams to think long and hard about getting to 1st overall with a trade. When a potential long-term QB1 is available, then a team can demand the world (and then some) to give up the coveted draft pick.

Thankfully, the Vikings likely won’t need to move heaven and earth to jump from 11th to 5th, but it’s still a pretty decent jump.

A top-5 selection in the draft is supremely valuable, especially since Kwesi Adofo-Mensah would be convincing the Chargers to forfeit a top-10 pick altogether. Taking a guess at what the move could cost required a bit of finagling alongside some trial and error, but here’s what a trio of mock draft machines agreed upon.

The Trade Possibilities in a Trio of Mock Drafts

Mock Machine #1 — Pro Football Network

Jan 1, 2024; New Orleans, LA, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) runs the ball during the fourth quarter against the Texas Longhorns in the 2024 Sugar Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The mock contained some unexpectedness at the very top.

Predictably, Caleb Williams went first overall. The Commanders, though, decided to do something weird by opting for Marvin Harrison Jr. with the 2nd pick. New England then used the 3rd selection on Jayden Daniels before Arizona sunk the 4th pick into Drake Maye.

So, things were a bit odd, but that doesn’t necessarily undercut the exercise. The goal is to get to 5th and by golly that’s what we’re going to do. Sending over the 11th, 42nd, and a 2025 2nd was enough to pry away the 5th and then a 2025 7th.

Looking back, the offer may have been an overpay, but teams regularly pay a ton when going after a quarterback. So, if Daniels was there and Minnesota convinced themselves that he was going to be their starter for the next decade, then shipping out a couple 2nd-round selections to make the jump doesn’t look too bad (especially in light of the Panthers’ move from last year).

In the mock, the pick got used on Michael Penix Jr., a decision that would be controversial if it occurred in real life.

SUMMARY: Minnesota sends the 11th, 42nd, and a 2025 2nd to LA for the 5th and a 2025 7th.

Mock Machine #2 — Pro Football Focus

Ohio State Buckeyes
Dec 31, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (18) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Georgia Bulldogs during the second quarter of the 2022 Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Once again, the mock draft gods decided to conspire against us. Jayden Daniels went 3rd overall after seeing Mr. Williams and Mr. Maye chosen 1st and 2nd. Going 4th was receiver Malik Nabers, so let’s see about Minnesota onboading Marvin Harrison Jr. to form the NFL’s scariest iteration of 11 personnel.

Last mock may have been a bit of an overpay to get to 5th, so I adjusted. Climbing from 11th to 5th meant tossing the 108th pick into the mix alongside a 2025 3rd.

Add it all together and the Vikings did some pretty tidy business. They leapfrogged several teams to land a sensationally gifted wide receiver (let Kevin O’Connell worry about how to figure it out with Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, and Marvin Harrison Jr.). Needing to part with just a 2024 4th and then a 2025 3rd doesn’t seem too bad.

SUMMARY: Minnesota sends the 11th, 108th, and a 2025 3rd to LA for the 5th.

Mock Machine #3 — Mock Draft Database

Nov 11, 2023; Eugene, Oregon, USA; USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) walks off the field after a game against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Plugging in the original trade from the first mock — the 11th, 42nd, and a 2025 2nd in exchange for the 5th and a 2025 7th — was deemed as a Vikings overpay on Mock Draft Database. Shifting things into the second swap — the 11th, 108th, and a 2025 3rd in exchange for the 5th — was ruled as being insufficient payment from Minnesota’s side.

Does the third mock offer a Goldilocks solution?

Kicking over the 11th alongside the 42nd for the 5th was considered a fair price by the site. Getting a bit greedier meant asking for LA’s 138th pick and then their 182nd pick. Still, the site believed the exchange was a fair one, so I pulled the trigger before the mock draft even got started.

Stunningly, Caleb Williams was available at 5th. Seeing this situation occur in real life is almost unfathomable. Nevertheless, I decided to bring in the stud passer from USC without overthinking things too much.

SUMMARY: Minnesota sends the 11th and 42nd to LA for the 5th, 138th, and 182nd.

Trade Takeaways, Thoughts, and Theories

The classic Jimmy Johnson trade chart offers some clues about trade value.

The Chargers’ 5th pick is tipping the scales at 1700 points. Meanwhile, Minnesota has a pick — the 11th — that counts for 1250 points. Bridging the gap would involve scrounging up the equivalent of 450 points. Tossing in the 42nd pick would get things close.

There is, however, a crucial caveat: the Chargers hold the leverage. Whoever is calling to get to 5th is very likely targeting a high-upside QB, meaning LA could plausibly want an overpay.

Just think back to the real-life example from last season. Carolina picked up the 1st overall selection in 2023 by … trading away the 1st overall selection in 2024. And then there was the 9th pick, the 61st pick, a young WR1, and then another 2nd-round selection. When a point chart looks at that trade, it faints. Some point charts even decided to retire since their best efforts were all for naught.

Oct 1, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Bryce Young (9) tries to avoid a sack by Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

If Bryce Young turns out to be a true franchise QB, the move was worth it. The quarterback position has a major impact on the game so a trade featuring a major overpay is at least somewhat coherent. If Young continues to flounder, then Carolina will continue showing itself to be a mismanaged organization that makes poor decisions.

Jump into a different valuation of draft pick points.

Over the Cap suggests that the 5th pick is worth 2,184 points whereas the 11th pick is worth 1,785 points, meaning there’s a discrepancy of 399 points. Minnesota’s 42nd selection is worth 1,106 points, so simply tossing in that selection would qualify as a major overpay by OTC’s standards (especially since the Pro Football Network swap also included a 2025 2nd). Much fairer would be what transpired in the Pro Football Focus and Mock Draft Database mocks.

Oct 21, 2023; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; LSU Tigers quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) celebrates a touchdown against the Army Black Knights during the first half at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Putting the 11th with the 108th would mean 2,412 points, so also tossing in a 2025 3rd looks like a decent overpay, as well. And then the final mock featured Minnesota shipping out picks #11 and #42 (2,891 points) in exchange for picks #5, #138, and #182 (3,050 points). The final example, then, looks like a win all around for Minnesota (especially since they didn’t even need to Crash for Caleb!).

In the end, every team is going to have their own way of evaluating whether a deal was worth it. And, of course, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is going to have a strong opinion on this sort of thing. He’s a numbers nerd and is proud of it (as he should be). Guaranteed: he has firm convictions about what picks are worth.

Nothing is certain about how Minnesota will interact with the draft board when the opening round arrives, but we can be confident that Adofo-Mensah will be pulling off deals within the three-day event. In two drafts, he has orchestrated nine trades.

The 2024 NFL Draft takes place from April 25th to 27th. The Vikings currently have nine selections.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and Over the Cap helped with this piece.

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.