The Vikings have been unusually silent during the free agent period. As fans ponder what could have been and what is coming next, using the NFL's own unofficial formula for evaluating draft picks, the Vikings could notch up fan interest exponentially by making one move on draft day...and it's a move that would be a minimal risk for the potential reward.
When is a value a value?
Advertisers say you can pay $50 for something that’s a $100 value and they get customers. If you put a value on anything, it will get people’s attention.
The Vikings face the potential of offering a “value” on draft day to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that could potentially be beneficial to both franchises and make an impact on the Vikings' franchise that could turn even the most jaded of former fans into bandwagon jumpers.
For those who are cognizant of the NFL draft and the crop of talent that is coming into the league a month from now, the name Calvin Johnson isn’t foreign to them. Johnson has two huge plusses on his draft resume. He is extremely talented and he is viewed as a model citizen. Those are two things that perk up the ears of Brad Childress. The question now becomes, if the draft falls right, will Childress and Rick Spielman be willing to offer the Bucs a “value?”
Although Johnson is rated as the most likely “can’t-miss” prospect in the draft, wide receivers are farther down the draft food chain than offensive left tackles, quarterbacks and potential franchise running backs. For that reason – and that reason alone – Johnson is likely to be on the board with the fourth pick in the draft. The top three teams in the inverted pecking order on draft day are the Raiders, Lions and Browns. They’re picking in the top three for a reason. They suck. For franchises at the absolute bottom, quarterbacks and left tackles are the cornerstones of convincing their fans they can turn things around. For that reason, the Vegas “smart money” is on JaMarcus Russell, Joe Thomas and Brady Quinn being the eventual top three picks. If it plays out that way, Johnson will still be on the board and the Bucs will be on the clock.
Enter the value chart. While many NFL execs dismiss the value chart as not being legitimate, the fact is that there is such a chart and most draft-day trades can be easily explained when the points on the “unofficial” chart are added together. Anyone with a computer and the ability to Google search “NFL value chart” can find it. In short, the first pick has a value of 3,000 points. For the next three picks, the value of each subsequent pick drops by 400 points to 1,800 at No. 4. Picks 5-10 drop by 100 points each. Nos. 11-18 drop by 50 points each. For no explainable reason, picks 19-21 drop 25 points each, while picks 22-30 drop 20 points each.
Why is trading to the No. 1 pick so difficult? You have to pay a king’s ransom to get there. But the fourth pick is a completely different animal. Suddenly, things start to get affordable. The Vikings' pick at No. 7 has a value of 1,500 picks. The Bucs pick at No. 4 has a value of 1,800 points. If the Vikings want to propose a deal with the Bucs, they can go one of two routes. Offer their first-round pick and their second-round pick (No. 41 overall) in exchange for the No. 4 pick. The Vikings' second-round pick has a value of 490 points. The fourth pick has a value of 1,800 points. By making that offer, the Vikings would “overspend” for the Bucs pick. A second option would be offering the Vikings' first- third-round and fourth-round pick. According to the value chart, the 41st pick is worth 230 points, the 102nd pick is worth 92 points. That, combined with the first-round pick would add up to 1,822 points – still a value for Tampa, but also a way for the Vikings to turn around fan interest in a heartbeat.
As it stands, the franchise lacks a “face” – the one player that can make a difference for the team and get fans excited. Johnson could be that person, much in the same way Randy Moss energized the fans. Suddenly, Tarvaris Jackson has someone to build his career around and the Vikings offense goes from boring to interesting.
If I was in the war room, I would offer the Bucs Option A – 1,990 value points vs. 1,800. According to the chart, the Bucs could more than justify the move to their fans. For the Vikings, it could be the move that turns the tide of fan apathy and ignites a spark that will carry over into the 2007 season.
It can be done. The only question facing the Vikings draft gurus is how big of a “value” are they willing to give the Buccaneers?