Vikings Draft Scenario: Trade Up for a 1st-Round QB but Do So for a Mere Pittance

Draft Prospect
Jul 28, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Upon first glance, the Vikings draft scenario appears to make next to no sense. Moving up means forfeiting a pile of draft capital.

Dig a little deeper, though.

If the goal is to leverage pick No. 11 to hop into pick No. 3, then the cost is going to be monstrous. No debate on that one. However, that’s only one way of moving up in the first round. What if Kwesi Adofo-Mensah instead decides to leverage his 2nd-round selection — No. 42 — to get back into the end of the first round? Moving from 42 to 32 is considerably different than moving from 11 to 3.

NFL: 2017 NFL Draft
Apr 27, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; The podium with draft logo at the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

On an annual basis, the GM who owns the 32nd pick becomes pretty popular. Teams covetous of a tumbling prospect often try to jump into the position. Doing so ensures the desired player doesn’t get scooped up by someone in RD2 just as it ensures that there’s an extra year of team control: the 5th-year option that accompanies opening-round selections.

So, think about it this way: if the Vikings balk at the price to move to the very top of the draft, then the strategy could be to stick-and-pick. A couple hours later, Adofo-Mensah could still trade up to land a 1st-round QB.

Vikings Draft Scenario: Kwesi Adofo-Mensah Having His Cake and Eating it Too

Leave it to Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to do something unexpected.

Since taking over, the GM has repeatedly proven that he isn’t afraid to be bold. A lot of people have a lot of opinions but Kwesi isn’t afraid of following through on his convictions. It’s an admirable — and necessary — part of being a high-level NFL executive even if it’s an approach that leads to both success and failure.

Vikings Had the Worst Draft
Jul 27, 2022; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah looks on at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

While there’s a lot of merit in trading up for a blue-chip prospect at QB, there’s also a lot of risk. In fact, the Super Bowl contains an example of both. Kansas City successfully executed the QB-trade-up (Patrick Mahomes) while San Francisco failed (Trey Lance).

What does Minnesota decide to do?

Drafting a QB has a pile of merit. Jayden Daniels looks like an excellent fit, but he’s not alone. Caleb Williams and Drake Maye obviously look like great players, but snagging them appears to be prohibitively expensive. And then there’s the next cluster of options: Michael Penix Jr., J.J. McCarthy, and Bo Nix.

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 current vantage point suggests that the initial trio — Williams, Maye, and Daniels — will be picked too high for the Vikings’ 11th pick. The next trio — Penix, McCarthy, and Nix — appear to be a bit of a reach at 11th.

Any chance Kwesi has some patient boldness tucked up his sleeve? Any chance he sees one of these final three QBs slide to 32nd before making his move?

Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy kisses the championship trophy to celebrate the Wolverines’ 34-13 win over Washington in the national championship game at NRG Stadium in Houston on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024.

Think back to the recently-retired Teddy Bridgewater. He arrived in Minnesota as the 32nd selection in the 2014 NFL Draft. The Vikings moved from 40th to 32nd to pull off the pick. The cost? Just a 4th-round selection — 108th overall — and nothing else. Not bad, eh?

More recently, Lamar Jackson was snagged at 32. Baltimore had the foresight to go snag the future MVP.

The Ravens shipped out their 2018 2nd (52nd), 2018 4th (125th), and 2019 2nd (53rd) for Philadelphia’s 2018 1st (32nd) and 2018 4th (132nd). So, a bit more expensive than what Minnesota did, but John Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome pulled off some highway robbery with this transaction.

Oct 22, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Gus Edwards (35) celebrates his touchdown with quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) during the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The hypothetical we’re considering is far from a certainty. Any number of factors could disrupt it actually playing out in real life.

Nevertheless, it’s worth remembering that relatively recent history contains some notable examples of teams making a move for a QB in that 32nd slot. Crucially, jumping into that draft position won’t be nearly as backbreaking as getting to the very top of the 2024 NFL Draft. In theory, Minnesota would allow the 32nd pick to learn behind a veteran starter — possibly Nick Mullens, but more likely Kirk Cousins — before handing over the keys to Kevin O’Connell’s offense.

The Vikings are sitting on nine total selections.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference 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.