Dec 29, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers wide receiver Tavon Austin (1) runs with the ball during the second quarter against the Syracuse Orange at the 2012 New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. Syracuse defeated West Virginia 38-14. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings Looking to Trade Up in Draft?


What does Rick Spielman want to do on draft day? Sit tight with the picks he has or swing some deals and move up? The buzz is building that Spielman wants to trade up. Daniel Jeremiah speculated in a recent NFL.com piece that the Vikings are heavily targeting the receiver position but are concerned that the receiver-needy Rams, who pick twice before the Vikings pick once, will get their guy. So Jeremiah thinks there’s a good chance the Vikes will trade ahead of the Rams to secure their top target. The Rams’ first pick comes at 16 so the Vikes would have to move up at least to 15.

And who might that coveted receiving target be? It could be Tavon Austin. The Rams just lost Danny Amendola to free agency and might be looking at Austin as a quick replacement. The Vikings as we know traded away Percy Harvin and might see Austin as the most Harvin-like receiver in the draft. But there’s only one problem with this line of reasoning. The Vikings have already said they intend using Greg Jennings at flanker, Harvin’s old position. And they have the somewhat Harvin-like Jarius Wright already on the roster.

Look at the Vikings’ receiver corps and the glaring need is not at flanker but split end. Tavon Austin is not a split end. He is small and quick and potentially explosive but not really what the Vikings seem to need. Guys like DeAndre Hopkins, Keenan Allen and Terrance Williams are better fits. On the surface. But we don’t know how Rick Spielman and his staff see things. Maybe they just love Tavon Austin that much. Maybe they’re not as sold on Jarius Wright as we think. Maybe they have some master plan that involves mixing Jennings, Tavon Austin and Jerome Simpson.

Austin would certainly bring a lot of excitement. Whether he would ever replace what Percy Harvin gave you…well that’s another story. Harvin is a unique talent. Austin has some of the same skills but it’s unlikely he will ever be the player Harvin has become. The idea of trading up is intriguing though, whether the target is Austin or someone else. We know how Rick Spielman loves to wheel-and-deal. He traded down one spot with Cleveland last year before taking Matt Kalil and then traded back up into the first to secure Harrison Smith.

The Vikes certainly have enough draft picks to swing some trades. The Harvin deal made sure of that. And more deals may be in the offing.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.laxen Daniel Laxen

    What it comes down to is what the Vikings would have to give up to move up? That extra 3rd rounder might fit the bill? That’s a big deal because there is always a chance that a 3rd rounder could be a starter on a young team…Now that the Vikings addressed the loss of Harvin and the front office still has faith in Simpson tells me something. The Vikings are looking somewhere other than WR in the 1st round…The Vikings have no starting MLB on the roster. Audie Cole, I doubt that he is the answer? The issues at DT are crying out too. Williams will have to take a pay cut!…The release of Winfield also create a need there, too…The Vikings are moving outdoors next year and I look for the Vikings to move defensively in this draft…There are plenty of WRs to snap up in the mid rounds that could help this team…MLB, DT, RG, CB…Look for the best available coupled with a MLB in the 1st round…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=552368664 Christopher G Hanson

    Yep, I would load up on defense in the 1st round. MLB, DT, CB. Then use the following rounds on WR. I think they should get Justin Hunter.

  • jambalaya

    Flanker is not the position that Percy Harvin used to play. Flanker is the Z receiver, Percy mostly played in the slot or the Y receiver.

  • http://www.facebook.com/BigOdd Charles Stocks

    Please don’t trade up. Be patient, keep the picks

  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.holly2 Mike Holly

    The talk about the Vikings taking a split end WR is the smoke. The media is right the Vikings need a split end but the team realizes Ponder doesnt have the arm to get the ball deep. Last year, they made people think they wanted a split end by drafting Greg Childs. But they were really just throwing away their extra 4th round pick on a risky injured WR who had been promising in the past. If they draft a split end this year, it will be a late flier and then they will propagandize about the prospect’s potential. The Vikings would be much further ahead to admit their mistake and get a QB with some arm strength.

    • http://twitter.com/rovibe71 Rob

      I’ll take that bet. Vikings will draft a deep threat WR in the 1st two rounds.

      • http://www.facebook.com/mike.holly2 Mike Holly

        To set the parameters of the bet, the split end must be a speed guy (less than 4.44 in the 40). I wouldn’t be surprised if they drafted a flanker (with 4.45 or greater speed) in the second round to bring depth and youth to the WR core and back up Jennings.

  • MDVIKING

    Audie Cole has never been given a chance. He is a true MLB. Plays the run well,
    decent in coverage, although it was good last pre-season. Give him a chance before we blow him off. Don’t waste a 1st round pick on MLB when we have one on the roster. He’s not the best athlete, but he is a good football player.

  • Anthony

    I really hope we don’t not use any of our top 3 round picks on linebackers. I love A.J. Klien and Jake Knott out of ISU. Both great players that fit very well in our scheme, Use top picks on WR, DT, and DBs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.holly2 Mike Holly

    NFL.com draft scouting shows the top 10 WRs lack a clear deep threat split end. Like this article says, Austin has the speed of a deep threat but lacks the size for the outside. Patterson and Hunter are possible split ends but their speed is marginal (similar to Greg Childs). The other 7 are flankers, which is what the Vikings need given Ponder’s inability to throw deep. Walter Football had the Vikings taking Allen but recently switched to Hopkins (who they compare to Greg Jennings).

    1st round WRs
    Tavon Austin (5-9 174 4.35) slot
    Cordarrelle Patterson ( 6-2 216 4.42) split end
    DeAndre Hopkins (6-1 214 4.57) flanker
    Keenan Allen (6-2 206 4.49) flanker
    2nd round WRs
    Justin Hunter (6-4 200 4.44) split end
    Robert Woods (6-0 201 4.51) flanker
    Markus Wheaton (5-11 183 4.45) flanker
    Terrance Williams (6-1 201 4.52) flanker
    Quinton Patton (6-0 204 4.53) flanker
    Da’Rick Rogers (6-2 217 4.52) flanker

  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.holly2 Mike Holly

    The WR situation on the Vikings should be clarified:

    Split end (big fastest deep threat)
    Flanker (tall fast possession)
    Slot (lacks size or speed to play outside)

    Jerome Simpson (6-2) split end but not fast enough
    Greg Jennings (5-11) flanker/slot
    Jarius Wright (5-10) slot
    (Harvin was also slot)

    The Vikings don’t need a good split end because Ponder doesn’t have the arm to get it to him anyway – Simpson will do. (They wouldn’t want to replace Simpson with Tavon Austin anyway because that would put 3 WRs under 5-11 on the field.) They don’t need another slot WR like Tavon Austin because they already have Wright, and Jennings is tending toward the slot as he gets older. The Vikings need to draft another flanker that will allow them to move Jennings around from flanker to slot. It would also give them depth if either Jennings or Wright is injured. If Simpson is injured, they could also play the new flanker at split end.