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Minnesota Vikings Kwesi Adofo-Mensah
Minnesota Vikings

Here’s Why Vikings Had Worst Draft in NFC North

  • Bryan Perez
  • May 17, 2022
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Who would’ve guessed the Minnesota Vikings would control the near- and long-term outlook in the NFC North during the 2022 NFL Draft? Armed with the 12th pick in the first round, the Vikings were a good bet to land Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton with their premium selection. But that’s not how things worked out, and the NFC North (including the Vikings) will pay for it.

Rather than take Hamilton or another premier prospect in the top-15, Minnesota traded down – all the way down – with the Detroit Lions. They swapped the 12th pick for the 32nd, allowing Detroit to move up and select the most explosive playmaker in the class: Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams.

The Vikings’ decision to swap picks with the Lions was bizarre for a couple of reasons. First, and most obvious, is the whole in-division thing. It’s taboo for a team to trade within its own conference, let alone the same division. But, hey, trust the numbers, right?

Then comes the actual trade itself. Minnesota received the 32nd, 34th and 66th picks from the Lions for No. 12 and 46. Even the casual fan recognizes how bad that value is. Calculators lie sometimes. Draft trade charts are dated and inexact. And sometimes, it just takes common sense to know what a good trade offer looks like. This was a classic case of overanalysis.

The Vikings used their first-round pick – No. 32 – on Georgia safety Lewis Cine and kept trading down in the second round until eventually selecting Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth Jr., LSU guard Ed Ingram and Oklahoma linebacker Brian Asamoah in the third.

By the way, we’ll come back to the Vikings’ second-round trades in a second.

The Lions, meanwhile, flipped the trade into an elite offensive weapon. Williams will come back to haunt Minnesota’s front office two times per year and remind rookie General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah that his analytics-over-rivalry strategy belongs in a burning dumpster.

Sadly, we aren’t finished. Adofo-Mensah committed what may have been the ultimate sin of the 2022 NFL Draft in the second round. He allowed the Green Bay Packers to trade up and draft a wide receiver for Aaron Rodgers: North Dakota State’s Christian Watson.

The Packers focused on defense with their two first-round picks, which left football media fearing another draft would come and go without investment in Rodgers. Had the Vikings not double-dipped with trades in the NFC North, we could be looking at a Green Bay roster with only Sammy Watkins as a potential go-to-guy. Now, Rodgers will throw dimes to Watson, one of the most physically gifted pass-catchers in this year’s class.

Two trades in the NFC North. Two trades that resulted in rival offenses adding explosive downfield playmakers. The Vikings expedited Detroit’s rebuild and they gave Rodgers a sportscar on a rookie contract.

Way to go (insert sarcastic slow-clap).

The poor Chicago Bears, a team that’s already behind the proverbial eight-ball on offense. They didn’t deserve this. Second-year quarterback Justin Fields doesn’t have much aside from receiver Darnell Mooney to throw to this year and now he has to match big plays in an NFC North that boasts Williams and Watson. And it’s not like the Packers and Lions can pop bottles of champagne, either. Green Bay has to face Williams; Detroit has to face Watson; Finkle is Einhorn. You get the point.

But the biggest loser in the NFC North is the Vikings. And they did it to themselves. Imagine Minnesota’s offense with Williams lining up across from Justin Jefferson? Imagine if Hamilton was in their secondary to, you know, stop those opposing NFC North offenses? Sure, Cine is a good player and he’ll be a good starter. But Hamilton has special upside. Williams has special upside. Now, we’ll see what a Vikings secondary without Hamilton can do to stop NFC North offenses with Williams and Watson.

This didn’t have to happen. Minnesota didn’t need to blow up the NFC North. They could’ve played nice, stayed in their lane and done what every team throughout modern draft history does: don’t make trades within your division that will haunt you for years to come.