Looking at the draft class for this year, there is no consensus choice as to who the Vikings should draft with the 17th overall pick this year. All the truly elite talent will be gone by the 12th pick or so, leaving second tier players for the Vikings to choose from. Although all the players the Vikings could pick are very good in their own right, they are probably not worth all the guaranteed money we would have to pay them. And as anyone with a basic understanding of microeconomics knows, the true cost of something is always the opportunity cost, and this is especially true in the NFL Draft.
I think the smartest thing any team can do for themselves is to trade down during the draft. With the way the trade chart is set up, you will always get good value for your picks. But why stop at trading down? All the elite players that can truly change a franchise are in the top 10 picks of the draft, and that is where the Vikings need to get to. I think that trading our first round pick this year, for a pick next year could be a wise move.
Trading our pick to a team like the Dolphins, Raiders, Bengals or Falcons who are in the process of completely rebuilding their team could prove to be beneficial in two ways. First, we could acquire their 2009 first round pick, which for those teams would very probably be in the top five or ten, where we could land a truly elite player. We could also be able to stock up in picks either in this year's 2nd or 3rd round (where there is a lot of quality depth), or in next year's draft.
Next year's draft has some amazing top-end talent, and at positions that the Vikings are most needing:
The wide receiver Michael Crabtree from Texas Tech has been described as a better pro prospect than Calvin Johnson was a year ago. He is an athletic, 6-3, 222-pound freak, and he had 125 receptions, 1,861 yards and 21 touchdowns - as a freshman. Oh, and he runs a 4.4 at his size. He is the type of receiver who can take control of a game, and is exactly the type of player that the Vikings need to pair with Adrian Peterson.
Taylor Mays, the strong safety from USC, is another player who has the potential and physical ability to completely change a game. Physically, he could possibly be the most gifted safety to ever play the game. He is 6-4 and 225 pounds, and despite his amazing size for a defensive back, he still runs a blazing 4.39 forty yard dash. With Sharper aging, and the future of Dwight Smith uncertain, there is no denying that Mays could totally revamp our defense.
There are also a number of other prospects who are worthy of being taken in the top five picks, such as QB Tim Tebow, DT Pat Sims, DE Tyson Jackson, NT Al Woods, and CB Vontae Davis are all elite players who could make an immediate impact on the Vikings.
If a player that another team covets starts slipping in this year's draft, we are in the perfect position to make a trade which would give us much more possibilities. As the Patriots showed this year by acquiring the 7th overall pick while going undefeated in the regular season, it is very possible to make a trade that lands you in the top end of the draft. And given the perceived lower value of a pick in a future draft, it seems perfectly plausible that we could trade our first round pick for a high-end first round pick in next year's draft, as well as some addition lower picks.
And although we wouldn't be adding a first round caliber player this year, the chance of being in position to take someone like Crabtree or Mays is more than worth it. We would also be in a position to take a new franchise quarterback if Tarvaris struggles this year. The current management and ownership of the Vikings has stressed the importance of building for the future, and nothing would do that more than acquiring more future draft picks.