However, the steam has died down and Tanehill and the water has become much more tepid. Now the momentum is surrounding running back Trent Richardson. As teams with a need at running back start to assess where he will fall, Cleveland again seems to be at the center of the storm. The Browns have a clear need at running back with Peyton Hillis bolting to Kansas City via free agency, the Bucs have been rumored to be interested in him and the Rams are also in the mix – given that Steven Jackson has been a workhorse for so long that many feel he is close to hitting the proverbial running back wall.
Rick Spielman knew exactly what he was doing when he made the comment that the Vikings, if they stay at No. 3, are looking at three players – offensive tackle Matt Kalil, cornerback Morris Claiborne and wide receiver Justin Blackmon. While all three are positions of need for the Vikings, it sent out the subliminal word to teams drafting below the Vikings that they have no intention of taking Richardson or Tannehill. Whether the Vikings have a legitimate interest in Blackmon or Claiborne is up to debate because, when you're picking in the top five or six picks of the draft, teams historically send out smokescreens to mask their true intentions. Very few teams will come right out and say, "We want (Player X) when we make our pick." It's part of the Draft Misinformation Dance.
By planting the idea that the Vikings have an interest in three players with the de facto first pick of the draft, they have sent out the word that if anyone has a strong feeling for one of five players (Kalil, Claiborne, Blackmon, Richardson or Tannehill), they can assure themselves of getting that player by making an offer the Vikings can't refuse and taking their place at No. 3. This comes after months of Spielman making it known that the Vikings were willing to trade out of the No. 3 spot – the first in what has become a stream of forthcoming information that, to the trained eye, would appear to be more smoke than fire.
It's unclear how much interest there will be in teams surrendering additional draft picks to move up or how far the Vikings might consider moving down, because, like the Vikings, they're keeping their true intentions close to the vest. The Vikings attempted a similar ploy in 2010 when they moved out of the first round to pick up the first picks on Days 2 and 3 of the draft. It can be argued how successful that strategy turned out to be, but the Vikings have done their best to make the most out their current spot in the catbird seat. With Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III assured to be off the board with the first two picks, the "real" draft begins with pick No. 3 and the Vikings are the ones holding all the cards. Do they make the pick? Do they move down? If so, how far are they willing to move down? None of those are certain, but they have made if clear that the pick can be had for a price … their price.
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.