Trading draft stock the rule of 1st round
Posted: Friday, April 27, 2012 7:00 pm
NEW YORK (AP) — Once the NFL draft got past quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, it was like a day on Wall Street. Everybody wanted to make a trade.
The wheeling and dealing started even before the Colts opened the proceedings as expected Thursday night by taking Luck and the Redskins followed by selecting RG3.
Behind closed doors, general managers around the league were gabbing away, jockeying to position their teams to land the most coveted player on their draft board.
When it was over, there were eight trades involving 12 of the league’s 32 teams and draftniks breathlessly trying to keep up with the organized mayhem. It all started when Minnesota swapped its No. 3 choice for Cleveland’s No. 4 pick. The Browns, who also gave up a fourth, fifth and seventh-rounder, desperately wanted Alabama running back Trent Richardson. The Vikings still got the guy they sought in Southern California tackle Matt Kalil.
“Unfortunately, we had to make a little trade to secure the pick,” said Browns coach Pat Shurmur, who later added quarterback Brandon Weeden with the No. 22 selection. “We knew as we went through the process that he was our guy and so we did what we had to do to secure it. We had pretty good knowledge that there were teams behind that wanted him as well, so we gave up a couple of picks to make sure we got him. We’re thrilled a bunch about Trent.”
The move allowed the Vikings to deal for another first-round pick, gaining the No. 29 spot in a trade with Baltimore and choosing Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith.
“That trade with Cleveland kind of set the tone for this draft, and us being able to do some things,” Vikings GM Rick Spielman said. “That was a huge, huge thing to get done right before the draft started.
The Jaguars, Cowboys and Eagles also traded up, and the Patriots did it twice to select players they wanted.
Credit the rookie wage scale for so much buying and selling, with GMs making last-minute moves knowing that extravagant salaries for top picks have been replaced by a compensation plan.
There were no such concerns for Indianapolis and Washington.
Stanford’s Luck heads for Indianapolis and the burden of replacing Peyton Manning, who merely won four MVP awards and a Super Bowl. Baylor’s RGIII answers the call in Washington, where he will try to soothe a devout but highly critical fan base.
“You don’t really replace a guy like that,” Luck said. “You can’t. You just try to do the best you can. Obviously, he was my hero growing up.”
His selection as the top pick was hardly a stunner. The Colts informed Luck last week that Commissioner Roger Goodell would announce his name first. Right behind him was Griffin; no suspense attached to that pick, either.
After being loudly booed at the start, Goodell told a raucous crowd at Radio City Music Hall that “the season begins tonight, so let’s kick if off.” Then he did, congratulating Luck to chants of “RG3, RG3.”
Luck left the stage, slapped hands with some fans in Colts shirts and headed to the interview room.
“I realize you could go crazy trying to measure yourself to Peyton Manning every day. That would be an insane way to live,” Luck said. “I know his legendary status, really. Huge shoes to try and fill if you’re trying to do that. … If one day I can be mentioned alongside Peyton as one of the football greats, that would be a football dream come true.”
To get Griffin, Washington had dealt a second-round pick this year and its first-rounders in 2013 and ’14 to St. Louis to move up four spots. They wound up with the QB that beat out Luck for the Heisman Trophy.
RG3 sang the team’s fight song during a conference call:
“Hail to the Redskins! Hail vic-tor-y!” Griffin said. “That’s how I felt. It felt that good.”
After Minnesota took Kalil, Jacksonville jumped up two spots to No. 5, trading with Florida neighbor Tampa Bay to get Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon, the top receiver in this crop.
“It just goes to show you that anything can happen,” Blackmon said, referring to the Jaguars going after him.
St. Louis must have liked dealing down because the Rams did it again, trading with Dallas, which was 14th overall. The Cowboys selected LSU’s Morris Claiborne, the top cornerback, adding him to free agent signing Brandon Carr and shoring up what was a Swiss cheese secondary.
St. Louis got a second-rounder in the deal.
Tampa Bay finished off a wild 30 minutes of bartering by grabbing Alabama safety Mark Barron seventh overall.
A third quarterback went eighth where Miami stayed put. The Dolphins took Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill, who played wide receiver for most of his time in college. His coach at A&M, Mike Sherman, is the Dolphins offensive coordinator.
Carolina selected Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly, the nation’s leading tackler. Buffalo chose cornerback Stephon Gilmore of South Carolina and Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe went to Kansas City before the next trade occurred.
Philadelphia moved up from 15 to 12, giving Seattle two later picks, then took Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox.
Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd went to Arizona, then the Rams finally got involved, taking LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers.
New England’s first deal was with Cincinnati to get Syracuse DE Chandler Jones at No. 21, and the second was with Denver to draft Crimson Tide linebacker Dont’a Hightower at No. 25.
Like Minnesota, Tampa Bay also got back into the first round, at No. 31 after dealing with Denver. The Bucs took Boise State running back Doug Martin.
The Super Bowl champion Giants concluded a swift but hectic round by choosing Virginia Tech running back David Wilson.
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis may have summed up the first of three draft sessions.
“I guess maybe this one-night format is a good thing,” he said. “Everybody was fired up to do something on the night.”
Published in The Messenger 4.27.12