It's been clear for some time that the Minnesota Vikings wouldn't be in position to trade their No. 3 overall pick to a team that wanted to draft Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. Griffin's performance in last month's NFL scouting combine sealed his spot as the second-best player in the draft, and on Friday night, the St. Louis Rams traded the No. 2 pick to the Washington Redskins for a bounty that will make Vikings fans rue the day their team dropped from contention for the No. 2 pick themselves.
As you assuredly know, the Vikings were on track to have the NFL's second-worst record before they defeated the Redskins 33-26 in Week 16. (Tailback Adrian Peterson also suffered a major knee injury in that game, an unrelated but no less serious event.) After Friday night's trade, we now know the difference between winning and losing that game was two future first-round picks and a second-rounder.
That's the premium the Redskins will pay the Rams to swap first-rounders in 2012, presumably to draft Griffin. With Andrew Luck and Griffin expected to go 1-2 in the draft, it's far less likely that a market will emerge for the Vikings' spot at No. 3. If it does, the bounty will be nothing close to what the Rams got from the Redskins.
Obviously, I'm not suggesting the Vikings should have done anything other than play to win against the Redskins. I'm not a proponent of tanking. In the end, that game was just another chapter in the star-crossed history of this franchise. The Vikings will do well to draft USC left tackle Matt Kalil at No. 3 next month, but they missed out on an opportunity to jump-start their rebuilding process with a rare volume of high draft picks in the coming years. Such is life.