Thursday, April 26, 2012
Vikings unofficially on clock
ESPN.com news services
NEW YORK -- Minnesota, you are on the clock.
Whoa! What happened to the first two picks in the NFL draft?
Of course, the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins will make those two choices to kick off Thursday night's proceedings. But the uncertainty at the very top disappeared a while ago, since the Colts announced they will take Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, and the Redskins made it clear Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III was their man.
In an appearance Thursday on the NFL Network's draft preview show, Redskins general manager Bruce Allen confirmed that Griffin will be his team's pick.
"[We] think that Robert fits our offense to a tee," Allen told the NFL Network. "We're excited about being able to complement him with what we've already been able to do with some of his special talents. Obviously his charisma is going to be embraced by the Redskins Nation."
Earlier Thursday, Colts owner Jim Irsay asked his Twitter followers if his team should take the entire 10-minute allotment before officially selecting Luck.
That unofficially puts Minnesota on the clock and one thing seems definite: Anything could happen with the Vikings' pick.
With a half-dozen or so players considered elite in this college crop, Minnesota figures to choose between Southern California tackle Matt Kalil, Alabama running back Trent Richardson, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne and Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon. Selecting Richardson would indicate concern by the Vikings about the recovery of star running back Adrian Peterson from torn left knee ligaments suffered in late December.
Or, as Vikings general manager Rick Spielman and coach Leslie Frazier have indicated, they might just swap the pick, moving down in the first round and collecting more spots.
"Looking at our draft board and the depth of the board, we still think there is a lot of good value in that first round. If you go back X amount of spots, you can still get an impact player," Spielman said.
Spielman said the market for the No. 3 pick has "heated up," and there are certainly other teams interested enough in Richardson or Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill or Kalil or Claiborne.
"Mo Claiborne is maybe one of the most talented corners I've seen come out in a long time," Spielman said.
Cleveland, which has the No. 4 and No. 22 overall picks, is making calls around the league to try to trade for a third No. 1 pick, league sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. Cleveland would use its second-round pick and other compensation to move into the first round a third time, the sources said.
The New York Jets, picking 16th in the first round, created speculation they may try to trade up to the Vikings' spot when Richardson revealed Wednesday that the Jets asked for his contact information in case they traded up to select him.
Conjecture on who winds up in that third spot has ramped up in part because of the rookie wage scale that sets contract parameters for high picks.
"There's some cost certainty now at the top of the draft; you understand better what you're getting financially for certain picks and there is more money to spend on the veteran players now," Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said.
Plus, with the ever-increasing importance of quarterbacks, a player such as Tannehill -- a receiver for most of his college career -- sees his value soar.
"They're such a rare commodity that we have to do everything we can to entertain the thought that if any one of those guys comes to us, what would we do?" said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, even though Seattle signed Matt Flynn to a huge free-agent contract.
Several draft experts have projected the SEC could have at least 11 players selected in the first round. Only one conference has had more than 11 players taken in the first round, according to ESPN Stats & Information. In 2006, there were 12 ACC players selected. Tannehill isn't among those projected 11 players, however, as the Texas A&M quarterback is being viewed as a Big 12 player for this draft (the Aggies won't join the SEC until this football season).
A major trade lifted the Redskins into the No. 2 spot. Washington sent the sixth overall choice this year to St. Louis, along with a second-rounder, plus first-round picks in 2013 and 2014. The Redskins did all that to grab Griffin.
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan assured eager fans on Wednesday that he will indeed let Robert be Robert when RG3 comes into the fold, starting Thursday night when he is selected No. 2 overall.
Shanahan joked that he won't hold it against Griffin "just because he's got a lot of charisma and I don't."
"He's a natural leader. ... You want guys to lead your football team," Shanahan said. "Everybody's got their own way of doing things. Some guys are a little bit more serious. You've got to be yourself."
Seahawks general manager John Schneider said he expected lots of movement in the first round -- and the first pick available is Minnesota's selection.
"I have a suspicion that once the gun goes off with the first pick in the draft, we're going to be pretty close to our pick," Spielman said. "We'll have a pretty good idea if we would pull the trigger on a trade and it may not be until we're on the clock."
Information from ESPN Stats & Information and The Associated Press was used in this report.