The Vikings traded up in the NFL Draft, and everyone knows what they’re thinking


Friday in football opened with a stunning trade, as the Minnesota Vikings acquired a second first round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft from the Houston Texans in exchange for future draft capital. The Vikings now own the No. 11 and No. 23 picks in the first round, and their cards are on the table for everyone to see: They’re moving up for a quarterback.

Now the question is: How high can the Vikings move, and who are they hoping to get? Let’s break all this down, because there are so many moving pieces to a trade up for a quarterback that it will define the first round.

What was the trade between Minnesota and Houston, and why?

The total trade is actually very fair value to acquire another first round pick. Minnesota sent their 2nd round pick (No. 42), 6th round pick (No. 188), and their 2025 2nd round pick to Houston, getting back the No. 23 and a 7th (No. 232).

For the Vikings the motivation is clear: It puts them in a position to actually get a quarterback. There’s no need to read any further into this, because that will be their plan.

Meanwhile in Houston, it’s another profoundly smart move from a front office that has a knack for making intelligent decisions. Signing Danielle Hunter in free agency removed the team’s biggest need for a second EDGE, which left the Texans with more picks than needs. Now they take a calculated gamble that the rebuilding Vikings will struggle in 2024, with the belief that 2nd rounder they picked up for 2025 could be in the Top 10, which is a fairly decent risk.

We’ve seen this kind of trade in the past

Acquiring draft assets prior to the draft, then using that capital to move up for a quarterback is something we’ve seen numerous times before. Some notable examples include:

Now the Vikings are poised to join this club and make a splash.

Who are the Vikings targeting and how high could they go?

That’s the biggest question with this. There are two fairly obvious scenarios here, one of which would be profoundly better for the Vikings.

Scenario 1: J.J. McCarthy

McCarthy has had a ludicrous rise this offseason where he’s shifted from being a player slated to go in the 20s, to the teens, to the Top 10, and now being regarded as a Top 5 pick. There’s so much unknown about him as a passer because Michigan never asked him to win with his arm, but teams are falling in love with his tools, accuracy, and leadership skills — banking on the fact he can be an elite passer when asked to.

If the plan is to target McCarthy then the obvious trade partner is the Los Angeles Chargers at No. 5. The Chargers are going through a complete offensive retooling under Jim Harbaugh, which has seen them release Mike Williams, trade Keeenan Allen, and have Austin Ekeler and Gerald Everett leave via free agency.

The Chargers need picks. They need options. They could stay at the No. 5 pick and take either Malik Nabors of Rome Odunze at wide receiver, but they have more needs to be filled.

Vikings send No. 11 and No. 23 in the 2024 NFL Draft, along with a 2025 4th round pick to the Los Angeles Chargers for the No. 5 pick.

If we look at the draft pick calculator this is a fair deal, insofar as the Chargers get more value back than they’re giving up — but not to an extreme. In total this would represent the Vikings sending away 2,070 in points, getting back 1700.

Scenario 2: Drake Maye

This is the deal I think Vikings fans should be hoping for. The stock of Dake Maye has been one of the most confounding elements of the 2024 NFL Draft. Here’s a player with true No. 1 overall skill, who is on-par with Caleb Williams, yet when it comes to projecting a landing spot for him it gets really dicey.

Maye doesn’t really fit the skillset of a Kliff Kingsbury quarterback, which could mean he’s passed over at No. 2. This opens the door for the Vikings to move up with the Patriots, but it would take a lot to get up into that range. Essentially we’re talking a Vito Corleone “offer they can’t refuse,” but it still might be much better than moving up for an unknown quantity in McCarthy.

The Patriots could make this deal if they’re simply not really sold on any of the top QBs and want to kick the can down the road a little longer. Alternatively, it could allow them to make an alternate deal like trading for Justin Fields from the Bears, then having two firsts to fill other areas of need immediately.

Vikings sent No. 11 and No. 23 in the 2024 NFL Draft, along with a 2025 1st round pick to the New England Patriots for the No. 3 pick.

Minnesota has to give up a lot here. The connect though is obvious. Drake Maye plugs perfectly into a Kevin O’Connell offense, and there’s already coaching familiarity inside the organization. Maye’s high school coach at Myers Park High School in Charlotte was none other than Josh McCown, who is now the Vikings QB coach.

Why are the Vikings pushing themselves to find a QB right now when they signed Sam Darnold?

Minnesota already signed Sam Darnold to one year deal to get them over the hump, which is a decent bridge move while they assess their future at the position. The problem is that it’s not a move that makes Justin Jefferson happy.

Losing Kirk Cousins in free agency was an unexpected blow which necessitates immediate action. With a future extension for Jefferson looming the team can’t afford to have the best receiver in football being unhappy with the direction of the franchise, or feeling like they’re not committed to finding a passer right now.

A trade up with worth in ten times over if moving up in the draft to find a QB is what it takes to also ensure Jefferson remains with the team. That is the biggest, and only priority the Vikings should have on offense right now.

Now we wait to see how this all plays out. There are a lot of different ways the Vikings could move up, and either McCarthy or Maye aren’t the only two possibilities, just the most likely ones. One thing this does ensure is that we need to buckle up on draft night, because things are going to be wild.



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