The Minnesota Vikings have the 14th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the result of a lackluster 7-9 season in 2020. The team’s 2nd-Round itinerary is naked as Minnesota parlayed that draft capital to land Yannick Ngakoue from the Jacksonville Jaguars – for six games. Soon after realizing Ngakoue was not a fit (or that he would not re-sign in 2021), the team shipped him to the Baltimore Ravens for a 3rd-Round selection in this April’s draft.
In the “high rounds,” general manager Rick Spielman has three picks to spend, for now (one 1st-Rounder, two 3rd-Rounders). Spielman is notorious for moving around the draft, both up or down. He moved up in 2012 to seize franchise stalwart HarrisonSmith in 2012. Spielman did the same thing to grab Teddy Bridgewater in 2014. As of late, however, Spielman has enjoyed trading back in later rounds for a treasure trove of late-round picks.
Holes need filling – especially in last year’s draft. Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph, Xavier Rhodes, and many more departed the team for other destinations. Trae Waynes, a 1st-Round draft choice from 2015, also skedaddled. His new employment partnered him with men like Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon, and Tee Higgins in Cincinnati.
As a result of his retreat from Minnesota, the Vikings will secure a compensatory pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. As reported by OverTheCap.com, that restitution is slated to be a 4th-Round Pick, a spot in the draft where the Vikings are not lacking.
But the more the merrier for a team that has roster craters to fill.
Four 4th Rounders
Spielman – before any Waynes recoupment – has three 4th-Rounders at his disposal. First, there is the organic capital that the Vikings earned by finishing 7-9 in 2020. The team has not monkeyed with the selection yet. It will be about the 14th pick of the 4th Round.
Then, there are two more 4th-Rounders to use as a byproduct of the Stefon Diggs trade. In addition to the pick that landed Justin Jefferson and defensive end Kenny Willekes, Spielman flipped the extra spoils from the Diggs trade into future draft toys. The future is now.
Through negotiations with the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills, the Vikings flipped 2020 picks into juicier 2021 selections. The Bears sent a 2021 4th-Rounder to Minnesota for a 2020 5th-Rounder (where the Bears drafted Trevis Gipson). With the Bills, Spielman nabbed a 4th-Rounder directly from the Diggs’ swap. The Bills received a last-year 7th-Rounder from the Vikings in the deal, and they drafted a cornerback named Dane Jackson.
Overall, the Waynes compensatory pick adds more 4th-Rounder firepower (if that’s a thing).
The 4th-Round Success under Spielman
Spielman became the head boss in 2012 but has been a part of the front office in a leadership capacity since 2006. He has encountered ample opportunity to “get it right” in the 4th Round of the NFL draft. Like any general manager, he does not succeed every time, but his 4th-Round record is fairly commendable.
Since 2006, the Vikings have extracted these notable players from the 4th Round of the draft: Everson Griffen, Brian Robison, Ray Edwards, Jarius Wright, Ben Gedeon, and D.J. Wonnum.
Griffen is the showstopper of this bunch as the former Viking ranks fourth in franchise history for sacks. He tabulated 74.5 sacks in ten seasons with the Vikings. The three men ahead of him are John Randle (114.0) Chris Doleman (96.5), and Jared Allen (85.5). Also worth noting: The NFL began tracking formally tracking sacks in 1982 – long after the Purple People Eaters ate humans beings.
Ammunition to Move Up or Back
What players will the Vikings select with four 4th-Round selections? That is impossible to accurately prognosticate at the moment. The draft board is simply too vast and there is way too much time to go before the draft begins on April 29th.
Spielman might steal four Everson Griffen-caliber players in the 4th Round. He could strikeout and be stuck with four Christian Ballard-esque personalities. Or it could be a mixture – the most realistic option.
A safe bet is that these four picks do not stand firm. Spielman may use them to claw back into the 2nd Round, a place in the draft where he has experienced tremendous success. Ask Dalvin Cook and Eric Kendricks about it. Conversely, the option will unfold to trade back to the 5th Round or push the picks back to 2022 for better future picks – as Spielman did with the Bears and Ravens last April.