The 2022 Minnesota Vikings were the most intriguing NFL team this past season. Ending the season with a 13-4 record while maintaining a bottom five defense isn’t just staggering, it’s a statistical anomaly. According to Pro Football Reference, the Vikings’ performance was comparable to an eight win team rather than the thirteen win reality. This showed when it mattered most against the equally mediocre New York Giants in the playoffs when Minnesota came up short after Kirk Cousins‘ fourth quarter magic finally ran out.
The answer appears obvious: improve the defense and soon the Minnesota Vikings will be Super Bowl contenders. Right? That seems like the case, but even when the Vikings brought in Kirk Cousins in 2018, it was assumed that quarterback was the one position that was needed to break through the shroud of mediocrity. Yet the team finished his first season in Minnesota with a forgettable 8-7 record.
Now in 2023, Cousins is at the threshold of potentially signing a new contract and the Vikings have a chance to step back and evaluate where they stand among the other 31 teams. Some believe them to be like the 2016 Kansas City Chiefs; unable to win in the playoffs and stuck hovering near .500, one trade up for Patrick Mahomes away from Super Bowl contention.
And yet, as the combine concluded and the quarterbacks were on full display it became painfully obvious that none of the top four quarterback prospects would still be on the board at ten, where the Chiefs traded up for Mahomes in 2017. That’s when I saw another fitting comparison: the 2021 San Francisco 49ers.
The 2022 Minnesota #Vikings are the 2016 Kansas City #Chiefs but need to act like the 2021 San Francisco #49ers. #SKOL pic.twitter.com/mgxRbokWyv
— Elliott Hicks (@TheElliottHicks) March 8, 2023
3 First Rounders and 1 Third
Considering the output so far from Trey Lance, the 49ers’ trade up to get him is considered overly ambitious. When teams toy with the idea of trading up in the draft, the ceiling is typically around two first round picks. Yet San Francisco still made the move and sent a slew of firsts to take Trey Lance at third overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. While it hasn’t paid off just yet, the move was more calculated than it shows on paper.
In a revisit of the trade by NinersWire, the highest first round pick sent by the 49ers was the 12th overall pick in 2021 which ended up being Micah Parsons (after Miami traded with Dallas). In addition, both the 2022 and 2023 picks have been the 29th overall (Cole Strange in 2022), which is only slightly more valuable than an early pick in the second round. Framed in that context, the 49ers essentially traded one first round pick, two second round picks, and a third for the 2021 third overall pick. That is incredible value.
What separates the 2022 Vikings and 2021 49ers, is that the floors and ceilings regarding the top four quarterbacks in this year’s draft are far clearer than it was about Trey Lance.
Young, Stroud, or Richardson
According to reporter, Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP), the Vikings have had formal meetings with both Will Levis and Anthony Richardson. In the case of Levis, meeting with him would be if he were to fall on draft day where it would be more palatable of a trade to move up and grab him. But Richardson is definitely the home run of the two.
After his final season with Florida, scouts believed that he left a lot on the table as far as accuracy is concerned. But, following his monstrous showing at the combine some believe that Richardson has the potential to be taken with the first overall pick. Meaning that either Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud could end up falling to anyone willing to trade up to the third overall pick. All three are deemed by the mocking community as the definitive top three quarterback prospects available and potential to be franchise players with high ceilings.
If you're wondering what a side by side of Anthony Richardson is with the Average QB, this is what it looks like. #RAS pic.twitter.com/DZgEG5BWqn
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 4, 2023
Interestingly, in 2021 it was reported that the Vikings were interested in trading up for Justin Fields but were in the end outbid by their division rival the Chicago Bears. Since then the Vikings have hired their new general manager, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, who has shown to be interested in both trading and taking risks based on upside.
It would be difficult for any team to match a trade for three first round picks, are the Vikings willing to make the call?
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