Vikings general manager Rick Spielman has talked extensively about how the Vikings will explore trading down in the upcoming draft from their #3 overall pick. The number of interviews he’s given on such are far too significant to list on this blog. And why shouldn’t he at the very least explore that option and give the rest of the league the illusion that the #3 pick is coveted? After the St Louis Rams received two first round picks and a second from the Washington Redskins to move back all of four spots it makes perfect sense to at least bluff. Still there are three dilemmas going on right now that are going to make it tough for the Vikings to trade down.
1) Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are locks to go 1-2. In essence, the Vikings are on the clock right now. Spielman even said in his latest interview with Pro Football Weekly “I think those picks will go relatively quickly. But I’m sure there will be some conversations before that pick if we’re going to make a trade.” That’s very much true, however if there really were teams (plural) calling for the 3rd overall pick perhaps he would have made the trade already. Yes, the draft is still 17 days away, but unless one of the two most coveted quarterbacks players breaks a leg or gets arrested (highly unlikely) absolutely nothing is going to change.
2) Quarterback needy teams aren’t sold on Ryan Tannehill. About two weeks ago NFL Network’s Charley Casserly stated that at the end of the college football season he had a 2nd round grade on the Texas A&M product. Casserly later goes on to explain that quarterbacks have never been at such a premium in the league and did defend a team drafting Tannehill in the top ten. Tannehill is all but certain to be the 3rd QB off the draft board, but next to no one will argue that he is in the same class as Luck and RG3. Remember that the Colts jettisoned a legend in Peyton Manning to pave way for Luck and the Redskins traded away a decent chunk of their drafting future for RG3. It’s very possible that the Browns could take Tannehill at 4, however Dennis Manoloff of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland recently stated that there is no guarantees Tannehill would beat out incumbent quarterback Colt McCoy if he were their pick. Taking Cleveland away removes one team from the equation, so who else would trade up for Tannehill? Tampa Bay picks at 5 having Josh Freeman, St Louis picks at 6 having Sam Bradford, Jacksonville picks at 7 having Blaine Gabbert (who was one of the worst starting QBs in the game last year, but coaches and ownership have said they’re committed to him) and Miami at 8 is very much a possibility to just draft Tannehill outright. As for the possibility of Miami trading up all the way to #3 for Tannehill, NFL Network’s Albert Breer guessed today that Miami liked him but would not move up. Yes, there are other teams such as Kansas City and Buffalo that could trade up for Tannehill, but there are also other more affordable drafting options at quarterback include Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden, Arizona State’s Brock Osweiler and Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins; all of which could be available in the 2nd round.
3) Beyond Tannehill, there really isn’t a consensus 3rd best prospect not named Matt Kalil. Spielman recently gushed about how he might pass on USC left tackle Matt Kalil for LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, which many believed to be posturing. Beyond those two the only other name that’s considered a top five prospect is Alabama running back Trent Richardson. Just today NFL Insider Cecil Lammey of 102.3 ESPN Denver tweeted that the Browns are “locking” onto Trent Richardson as their pick at 4th overall. If that’s the case, there’s no reason for the Browns trade up to the Vikings pick for Richardson knowing full well the Vikings are not taking a running back having Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart. The Buccaneers at 5 are also believed to be high on Richardson, but they also would be very happy to land Claiborne having recently hired away LSU secondary coach Ron Cooper.
The draft is still 17 days away and there will be a flurry of news until the event comes. Still the combine is over, pro days are over and changes made to teams draft boards now are subtle. It’s going to take a major turn of events for the Vikings find a trading partner. Best guess is once the Vikings are officially on the clock the phone doesn’t ring for the first 9 minutes and Kalil is the pick. Let’s just hope they make it to the podium on time.
Jon Merckle may be followed on Twitter @thevikingpig