Now that the Super Bowl has come and gone, NFL mock draft season has officially kicked off, with draftniks and NFL beat writers alike cranking out their best early guesses at how the first round will go in late April.
Unfortunately, Vikings fans won't be fervently clicking those links because the Vikings are one of two NFL teams without a first-round pick after they dealt theirs to Philly in the Sam Bradford trade back in September.
The last time the Vikings didn't pick a player in the first round was 2010, when they selected Chris Cook and Toby Gerhart in the second round.
But knowing GM Rick Spielman, who loves to wheel and deal on draft night, the Vikings will be a team to watch late in the first round this year. They might not have a first-rounder, but they currently have eight picks, including two each in both the third and fourth rounds. That is enough for them to move back into the first round if that's what they want to do.
So what exactly might it take for the Vikings to get back in Round One?
In 2012, they traded the third pick in the second and a fourth-rounder to move up six spots for Harrison Smith, their two-time Pro Bowl safety.
A year later, Spielman surrendered picks in the third, fourth and seventh round to the Patriots to move up a whopping 23 picks, from No. 52 overall to No. 29, in order to select wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.
In 2014, it took a fourth-round pick for Spielman and the Vikings to trade up from No. 40 to the last pick of the first round, which had belonged to the Seahawks, so they could draft quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
After finishing 8-8 this past season, the Vikings will have either the 46th or 47th pick in the second round depending on a coin flip that will take place at the scouting combine, because they finished with the same record with the same strength of schedule as the Colts, according to NFL.com.
The price the Vikings would have to pay to move all the way up into the first round, a leap of at least 14 picks, would depend on the demand for the pick and the willingness of the teams picking late in the first round to pass on a premium prospect in order to score a package of picks.
Since Spielman seems to like the 29th pick so much, that one will be our hypothetical target. Using this NFL trade value chart from Pro Football Talk, which based it on the system the Cowboys made popular back in the day, that pick is worth 640 points. The 46th pick is worth 440.
To bridge the gap, the Vikings could throw in their third-round pick in the middle of that round, which is conveniently worth exactly 200 points. Or they could trade the third-round pick they got from the Dolphins, which comes late in the round, and a late-round pick for the 29th pick.
Let's say it takes one of their third-rounders and one in the fourth round to get that deal done with the rival Packers (I didn't realize they had the 29th pick until now and there's no turning back). That would still leave the Vikings with a third-round pick and a fourth-round pick in addition to their late first-rounder, plus picks in the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds.
If the Vikings were to give all that up to select, say, a first-round offensive tackle, would you be cool with that? Or should Spielman stay put?