Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC North [Print without images]

Wednesday, January 11, 2012
DraftWatch: Robert Griffin III and the Vikings

By Kevin Seifert

Mel Kiper's latest Big Board Insider starts a conversation we're likely to focus on for much of the next few months: How will the fates of the Minnesota Vikings and Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III intertwine?

Griffin is reportedly planning to declare for the draft Wednesday rather than return to school for his senior season. Kiper ranked him the sixth-best prospect in the draft but acknowledged that a quarterback-needy team might feel compelled to trade high into the first round to draft him.

There are a lot of "ifs," in the second week of January, but the bottom line is that Griffin provides the Vikings their best, and perhaps only, chance of trading down in the first round if that's their hope -- and they might not get the opportunity. Hear me out on this.

We're assuming the Indianapolis Colts will draft Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck at No. 1 overall. The St. Louis Rams would be up next. They have a young franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford and a left tackle in Rodger Saffold who might be good enough to minimize their need to draft USC left tackle Matt Kalil. So the Rams could be in prime position to auction off the No. 2 pick to those who want to draft Griffin.

(Regardless of what you think of Griffin's pro potential, he's the second-best quarterback in a draft that has a steep drop-off after that. Only Luck and Griffin are on Kiper's list of this year's 25 top prospects. Teams go bonkers for blue-chip quarterbacks. He's a legitimate candidate for the No. 2 pick.)

Predicting the Rams, however, is really difficult at this point. As of Wednesday, they have neither a general manager nor a coach. There is no assurance that either future hire will be committed to Bradford or Saffold.

But the Vikings' best-case scenario, if they want to trade down, is for Griffin to be available at their No. 3 overall pick. It's assumed, but not guaranteed, that the Vikings wouldn't draft Griffin themselves a year after selecting Christian Ponder with the No. 12 overall pick. If that's the case, there would almost certainly be willing trade partners available to move up and grab Griffin at No. 3.

Stay tuned.