[Editor's Note: The Browns reportedly made a deal to move to #3 overall
after this story was written. ]
Following months of analyzing, re-analyzing and micro-analyzing, the
prime-time start of the NFL's 2012 college player draft Thursday will
be an almost anti-climactic 1-2 punch that has been telegraphed for so
long that the only knockout it can score is against intrigue.
After those first two picks are announced, the real drama finally
The Indianapolis Colts have already said they will use the first pick
to select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, whose job will be to
resurrect an offense led for so long by Peyton Manning, who is now
trying to extend his career with the Denver Broncos.
The Washington Redskins went all in -- giving the St. Louis Rams a
second-round pick this year and first-round picks the next two years --
to move up from the sixth spot to No. 2, where they will take Baylor
Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Robert Griffin III.
it will fall to the Minnesota Vikings to begin the real drama of this
draft in the No. 3 spot.
Once the predetermined cream of the crop is officially chosen, the
Minnesota Vikings will start the real intrigue with its pick from the
No. 3 spot.
And, in the first draft after a collective bargaining agreement that
severely limits rookie contracts, a new perspective will be placed on
how to value players and positions. It will be far less of a financial
burden to have a top ten pick. So, beginning with the Vikings, who all
but advertised a willingness to trade their No. 3 spot on Craig's List,
it will be interesting to see how and why teams trade up or down.
This could re-value draft worthiness of an exceptional offensive
lineman, running back, defensive back or wide receiver, whose allure
may have been impacted in recent drafts by either the concept of supply
and demand or, especially in the case of quarterbacks, sheer cost.
The Vikings are counting on teams willing to swap several draft picks
to move up and get just such players, as there are conspicuous examples
available for the taking at each of those positions.
According to final ratings by NFLDrafScout.com, the parade of talent
after Luck and RG3 marches in this order -- No. 3, Southern Cal
offensive tackle Matt Kalil; No. 4, Alabama running back Trent Richardson; No. 5, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne; No. 6, Oklahoma
wide receiver Justin Blackmon.
Also, after Mississippi defensive tackle Fletcher Cox at No. 7, there
is Texas A&M wide receiver-turned-quarterback Ryan Tannehill,
easily the fastest rising and most controversial pick in the draft,
sitting neatly in the No. 8 position where the quarterback-needy Miami Dolphins are picking. Or, at least that is where they were situated the
day before the draft.
The Vikings certainly could use Kalil, but offensive linemen are
traditionally found with lower picks and this is a team that has needs
at more than one position.
Though running backs have been devalued in the pass-oriented NFL and
there are six in this draft deemed good enough to be taken in the first
two rounds, Richardson is special. Many teams believe he's the best
running back to arrive since Adrian Peterson, who was taken seventh
overall by the Vikings in 2007.
Cornerback and wide receiver are two of the strongest positions at the
top of the 2012 draft. Eleven corners and a dozen receivers have the
potential to be taken in the first two rounds. But athletes with big
play ability are at a premium, and that's why Claiborne is especially
prized as a corner and Blackmon as a receiver.
Almost every year, the third-ranked quarterback is the fastest rising
player as the draft nears. Tannehill is that QB this year. The lure of
a potential franchise quarterback, even if he needs time to fine tune
his skills, could make a team trade up and pay to get Tannehill. He may
even attract the attention of the Cleveland Browns, who are sitting at
No. 4 and run by team president Mike Holmgren, himself an
underappreciated quarterback when he graduated from USC.
Holmgren, known to be a sharp poker player himself, also knows there is
value in either keeping or trading from the fourth spot. Perhaps the
Vikings and Browns already have their players picked or their deals
With no offense meant to the Colts and Luck or the Redskins and RG3,
the real personality of the 2012 draft will probably be determined by
what happens once the Vikings, then Browns are on the clock
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