The talk of the draft to this point has alternated on one of two basic premises. The first was, “What is Andrew Luck worth?” The Indianapolis Colts already answered that question by saying he’s worth cutting loose future first-ballot Hall of Famer Peyton Manning.
The second was, “What is Robert Griffin III worth?” The Washington Redskins answered that question by giving up three first-round picks over the next three years and a second-round pick this year (No. 39 overall) to move up four spots in next month’s draft to acquire the rights to RG3.
Now we have reached the third phase: “What is the No. 3 pick worth?” The conventional wisdom is that the Vikings will take offensive tackle Matt Kalil with that pick. It doesn’t hurt matters when ESPN’s Todd McShay, talking about the offensive tackle crop in the Class of 2012 on the sports network, described Kalil as “the most complete tackle I’ve evaluated in my time scouting prospects.”
However, Kalil is not the only prospect garnering a lot of attention. For a team that needs to bolster a running game badly, Trent Richardson is arguably the most talented running back to come out in the draft since Adrian Peterson. Morris Claiborne is a dominant cornerback that could immediately become a shutdown -type corner that could be a Pro Bowler for years to come. Then there’s wide receiver Justin Blackmon. Had the Rams not traded out of the second spot in the draft, odds are they would have taken Blackmon with the second pick of the draft to give Sam Bradford a pitch-and-catch buddy for the rest of the decade.
It would seem that, with Luck and Griffin taken out of the mix, there are only four Super Blue-chip prospects in the 2012 draft. The order in which they get taken may be subject to debate, but it seems clear that the top six picks are going to go Luck, Griffin and, in no particular order but possibly the most probable order, Kalil, Claiborne, Richardson and Blackmon. Ryan Tannehill fans may beg to differ and include him in the mix, but, from the Vikings perspective, all that does is add to the value of the Vikings’ pick at No. 3.
In the weeks leading up to a typical draft, the first pick is usually pretty firmed up. The last time there was a potential surprise was when Reggie Bush got greedy with the Houston Texans and they told him to go kick rocks and took Mario Williams. Since then, the first pick has annually been pretty much been locked down. In those instances, teams that have a hankering for a specific player have had to pull the trigger on a deal to move up, which starts at No. 2 and works its way down. The Jets did it to draft Mark Sanchez in 2009. The Falcons did it last year to get Julio Jones. In both of those instances, they had to trade up to the No. 5 pick before they found a taker and pulled the trigger.
With four players that teams could covet for different reasons, not to mention Tannehill, who could get a team desperate to get ahead of Cleveland if they believe the Browns have an interest, the Vikings are sitting in the proverbial catbird seat at the moment. If they stay where they’re at, they can potentially land an offensive left tackle that, by McShay’s admission, may be one of the all-time greats. To throw out the “most complete I’ve ever seen” line is something the Vikings will have emblazoned on commemorative TV shirts.
Given the way the draft has shaken out, just what is the third pick worth? It’s rare when the first two picks have been locked down this early – much less with a trade already for the second selection. In all reality, with the days counting down to the draft, there’s no drama that is going to unfold in the first 10-20 minutes. The draft will start. A card that says “Andrew Luck” will be handed to Uncle Roger. He’ll read it. We’ll find out who Luck “is wearing” as he shares an awkward man-hug with the commish. The Redskins will be on the clock for about a minute and, after the cameras clear off the stage of the “grip and grin” photo op, a slightly out-of-breath Goodell will rush back to the podium to say, “With the second pick in the 2012 draft, the Washington Redskins select Robert Griffin III, quarterback, Baylor University.” Repeat “grip-and-grin,” manly embrace, etc. His last words until he steps to the podium again will be “The Minnesota Vikings are on the clock.”
That’s when the fun begins.
Will the offer that the Vikings “can’t refuse” come in? Will they stay at No. 3 and take Kalil?
March Madness is winding down. April Madness is only beginning. Buckle up. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.
It was eight years ago today that the NFL officially started becoming the No Fun League. After end zone celebrations were becoming choreographed and excessive, a 15-yard penalty and potential ejection became part of the multi-player TD excitement.
The Bountygate suspensions will start taking effect Sunday with the scheduled suspension of Sean Payton. As part of the official appeals process, Payton appealed his one-year suspension, G.M. Mickey Loomis appealed his suspension and the team appealed the $500,000 fine and the loss of two second-round draft picks – fortunately for them, they traded away their first-rounder this year or that would have been eliminated. Goodell had better hope the league tightened up having to deal with state courts following the StarCaps incident instituted in the new collective bargaining agreement. If history has taught us anything, if the NFL has to fight judges in Louisiana in any matter concerning Sean Payton, the delays will drag the case out for years – if StarCaps could out-last Pat Williams’ playing career, the Louisiana judicial process could outlast both Payton and Goodell.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.