Mock drafting is great but simulating the draft is better. Websites like Pro Football Focus, FanSpeak and The Draft Network have functions that combine draft boards and team needs to estimate how things will play out in the 2020 NFL Draft. We at SKOR North will be simulating the draft from a Minnesota Vikings perspective as we lead up to when the Vikings are on the clock. For this version, we look at trade-down possibilities…
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In this simulation, the Vikings trade the 25th overall pick along with the 105th and 201st selections to Tampa Bay the 45th and 76th picks. It’s quite a ways down for the Vikings but allows them to pick three times in the third round and still grab a top-50 prospect at a position of need.
In this version, the Vikings were able to fill their most pressing spot at No. 22 with Clemson cornerback AJ Terrell, whose 6-foot-1 frame and 4.42 40-yard dash combined with terrific production (50.4% completion percentage against in three years, per PFF) give him the look of a typical Mike Zimmer corner.
Defensive tackle Jordan Elliott was still available in the second, which speaks to the depth of this particular draft from the middle of the first round through the second. Elliott ranked the highest by PFF in pass rush win rate, creating 34 pressures on just 290 pass rush snaps. At 6-foot-4, 302 pounds and with an 86th percentile 10-yard split, he has the explosiveness to make a difference immediately as an interior rusher.
With their own second round pick in this sim, the Vikings land offensive tackle Austin Jackson, who is ranked 28th on NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah’s top-50 big board. He’s an athletic tackle, running a 5.07 40-yard dash at 322 pounds. Per the website Relative Athletic Scores, the only tackles with a more impressive profile are Ezra Cleveland, Mekhi Becton and Tristan Wirfs.
The extra pick acquired from the Bucs lands the Vikings a wide receiver in this scenario. Ohio State’s KJ Hill is still available after the first two rounds were littered with receivers. Hill doesn’t have impressive long speed but his 10-yard split at the Combine ranked in the 93rd percentile (per PFF) and Ohio State’s QB posted a 134.6 rating when throwing quick passes to him.
Darnay Holmes is a three-year starter with potential as a nickel corner at 5-foot-10, 195-pounds. He has warts but has enough tools for Zimmer and Co. to mold. And the 132nd pick Shaahdiq Charles has some red flags that will cause him to drop but his athletic potential could result in a steal in the fourth round.
Moving back turned out to be a home run move for the Vikings in this case but it wasn’t without some drawbacks. The top receivers went off the board, forcing them to settle with a third-rounder who doesn’t have the high-end potential as an outside receiver. While Elliott is a quality prospect, there are more pressing needs than three-technique defensive tackle that the team would rather address, whether that’s picking another corner or higher rated offensive tackle like Josh Jones or a dynamic player in the secondary like Antoine Winfield Jr.
However, the total value gained by adding an extra pick with a move down is enticing. They land an instant starter in Terrell, rotational rusher, future left tackle and potential producer at receiver along with project players with high ceilings. That’s a strong overall result.
The issue with the Tampa Bay trade was that the Vikings moved way down the board. In a second attempt at moving down, the Vikings swing a deal with Cincinnati to slide to 33 and pick up the 107th pick. They still land a top-notch receiver prospect in Denzel Mims and land an edge rusher who posted nine sacks last season at Michigan State with the 107th selection. In this sim, Elliott was still around at No. 58 and two project offensive linemen were available in the third.
There’s a thousand different ways the Vikings could go on draft night but in numerous simulations, trading down in this particular draft rarely seems like a bad idea.