The most intriguing Vikings subplot in this week’s NFL draft involves a familiar name (or two or three).
The Vikings have two first-round picks and a certified need at cornerback after the departures of Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander this offseason. The first of those picks, No. 22 overall, was obtained from Buffalo in the trade for wide receiver Stefon Diggs.
Longtime NFL writer Peter King, in his mock draft, suggests that the Vikings at that spot will take a big-bodied corner (6-2) who can stand up to the types of big, physical receivers who dominate the NFL these days. And he played at Alabama? All the better.
That corner’s name? Trevon Diggs. Yes, the brother of Stefon.
Normally that would be an interesting bit of symmetry and not much more than that. But given everything that has transpired in the last year the situation raises even more compelling questions.
Stefon Diggs paved the way for his exit with a disgruntled (but productive) 2019 season and an increasingly aggressive campaign of tweets about his unhappiness once the season ended. Most trades involving a productive player in his prime tend to have a degree of tension, but the Diggs situation felt elevated. So knowing how it ended here, would the Vikings be hesitant to draft his brother? And would Trevon have a perception of the Vikings that might make him reluctant to want to be picked by Minnesota?
We talked about it during Part 4 of our five-part draft preview series on the Access Vikings podcast. It’s a valid question — one flagged by King, in fact, in his mock draft. He wrote: This might be overthinking, but I wonder if being Stefon Diggs’ younger brother would bug GM Rick Spielman or coach Mike Zimmer. It certainly would be the first question I’d ask at the post-draft press conference.
Siblings can have vastly different personalities, so it hardly feels like a deal-breaker. (And it should be noted: I always liked Diggs as a person when he was with the Vikings. Even as things clearly turned sour last season he was a thoughtful and engaging interview subject).
But could it be a tie-breaker? If Diggs is one of two corners the Vikings like equally at No. 22 or 25, would the Vikings go the other direction away from Diggs?
To a lesser degree, a similar question could be asked about two other familiar names in this year’s draft: Antoine Winfield Jr. and Thaddeus Moss. Both are the sons, of course, of former Vikings stars Antoine Winfield Sr. and Randy Moss.
Both of those players had rather unceremonious exits from the organization. Moss, like Diggs, was traded in his prime after tensions grew between the sides. And he was dumped again after just four games in 2010. Winfield was cut shortly before free agency in 2013 and was reportedly confused and blindsided by the move at the time.
The Vikings and Moss have mended fences to a certain degree, our Ben Goessling noted on the podcast. Thaddeus Moss is a tight end — not a major position of need for the Vikings after drafting Irv Smith Jr. last season — projected to go in the fourth round. Winfield Jr., of course, was a standout safety for the Gophers. But with Anthony Harris signed this season and still in purple, plus with Harrison Smith still dominating the other safety spot, taking Winfield with a premium pick seems less likely.
Still, it is interesting that there are three high-profile prospects related to former Vikings standouts who left here on far-from-perfect terms — and that one of them, at least, could provide a real dilemma on draft night.