Friday, April 23, 2010
Inside Lions-Vikings intra-division trade
By Kevin Seifert ESPN.com
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Jim Schwartz's legendary blood pressure started to rise late Thursday evening. The running back he has coveted was still available near the end of the first round, and Detroit president Tom Lewand was trying to finalize a trade -- with a division rival, no less -- to move up and draft him.
"I wanted to grab the phone from him and start beating him with it," a noticeably calmer Schwartz said a few minutes later.
Yes, the end of Thursday night's first round took on a decidedly competitive tone when the Lions talked Minnesota into giving up its spot at No. 30 overall for a price lower than originally believed. In exchange for helping the Lions draft Cal tailback Jahvid Best, the Vikings moved down four spots and took Detroit's No. 34 overall pick.
Jahvid Best ran for 867 yards and 12 touchdowns before missing Cal's final four games with a concussion.
The teams swapped fourth-rounders -- the Vikings moving up to No. 100 overall, the Lions dropping to No. 128 -- and the Vikings grabbed one of the Lions' seventh-round picks (No. 214) as well.
Schwartz noted fairly that "they helped us out, [but] we helped them out." But if Best makes the impact the Lions believe he will, the Vikings might one day wonder if they should have taken another offer. (Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman said the Vikings heard from several other possible trade partners.)
"This was a player that we had a lot of really good feelings for and a guy that we had a plan for exactly how we're going to use him on offense," Schwartz said. "I was hoping for two things in this draft. One was to get him. ... But if we didn't get him, [I was hoping] that he didn't go to Green Bay or Minnesota or Chicago and have to defend against a guy like that twice a year."
I can't argue with the Vikings' decision to trade down. A number of players they likely would have been interested in -- Florida center/guard Maurkice Pouncey and Boise State cornerback Kyle Wilson among them -- were off the board. Oddly, the one player that might have made sense for them was Best, who could have replaced Chester Tayloras the Vikings' No. 2 tailback and given them yet another blue-chip playmaker.
But Spielman said the return was too high to consider drafting Best or shying away from dealing with a division rival. He claimed all four players the Vikings targeted at No. 30 are still available, meaning they will conceivably have their pick of them at the top of the second round.
"I think the value of going up and having those slots that we were able to get was very important to us," Spielman said. "And I think if there was a player at 30 that we were definitely sold on that we said there was no way that we'd trade out of this pick to have that player, then we wouldn't have done it. But I think with us having the options to look at [Friday] that we were able to still potentially get a player that we many have taken at 30, and help ourselves with our slots."
We can't really judge this trade with six rounds remaining in the draft, and in truth it might take several years to give an accurate accounting of it. I will say this: You can't help but notice the Lions' burgeoning list of offensive skill players. The list includes quarterback Matthew Stafford, receivers Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson, tight ends Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler, and now Best. Even if incumbent tailback Kevin Smith were healthy, I would consider Best by far the best tailback on the Lions' roster.
"We've got the makings of some special things," Schwartz said.