tavon-austin-run2

Next Thursday you’ll hear the words “there’s been a trade”. You’ll look away from your beer soaked pretzels (or your pretzel soaked beer) to remind yourself who’s currently on the clock, and who were the prospects widely projected to come off the board in that slot. You’ll identify the motivation for a trade back by the team involved (poor value? a need that can be addressed later? a player in high demand, and an auction is essentially taking place?), and who the trade partner will be.

Or maybe only us writer and nerdy mother’s basement dwelling types do that, because we’re just the coolest. But rest assured that you’ll hear those words several times next Thursday, as there will be multiple early hot spots for trading activity, and a few playoff teams at the back of the round looking to move up and address significant needs.

The Falcons are likely one of them, since drafting either an elite tight end or cornerback will be difficult at No. 30, when guys named Tyler Eifert and Desmond Trufant are long gone. Now, another team has possibly surfaced to entertain us with their bartering.

Enter the Minnesota Vikings.

As we were all going crazy over the schedule last night, the Vikings may or may not have started to go crazy over Tavon Austin, who’s currently covered in general manager saliva. Or maybe their infatuation doesn’t involve him, but we know (or think we know) that they’d really like to trade up.

That was the report from Ian Rapoport last night, and it makes a whole lot of sense, especially if that trade will involve Austin. After the Percy Harvin trade, Minnesota has a lot of flexibility in the first round, with the 23rd and 25th overall picks in their pocket. And while the addition of Greg Jennings is nice and all, he’s becoming more of a possession receiver as he ages, or at least a wideout who excels mostly on intermediate routes.

The Vikings then need top end speed, and as a bonus it would also be nice to find someone to replace the creativity provided by Harvin, who lined up in multiple areas, from the slot to the backfield. Harvin’s versatility resulted in 107 carries over his four years in Minnesota, and a single-season high of 345 rushing yards (2011).

As much as he may have been a complete jerk, it really can’t be overstated how hard it will be to replace Harvin’s Swiss Army knife presence. So I’ll repeat it again: it’ll be really, really, really hard, which explains the possible aggressiveness to land Austin.

Austin was West Virginia’s Harvin over his four seasons. No, that’s a dirty lie. He was better than Harvin in a multi-faceted role.

During his senior season, Austin’s backfield usage expanded significantly when he received 72 carries. Prior to that his single-season high was 16, and that abrupt increase led to 643 rushing yards. Combine that with his receiving yards, and Austin had 1,932 all-purpose yards, and 15 touchdowns.

Remember how stupidly good Adrian Peterson was last year even without Harvin, and that bit about him coming within several yards of setting the single-season rushing record? Now think of how video game-like he’d be if he was flanked by an equally creative and explosive presence in the open field.

Dammit, now I’m covered in saliva.