As much as Vikings' general manager Rick Spielman might wish to find a trade suitor for their third overall pick in hopes of fetching multiple draft choices in return -- alluring ammunition indeed for a rebuilding team -- it is looking all the clearer that the Vikings left that possibility at the alter the moment they won a worthless game against the Redskins on Christmas Eve last season. The victory enabled the Rams to jump over them in the draft order and, consequently, make the very type of lucrative trade with the Redskins that Spielman would have donated a number of his internal organs to have been on the receiving end of.
In the news as of late there have been rumors that the Vikings may still be able to trade down in the draft, thus limiting the "damage" somewhat of missing out on cashing in on the Robert Griffin III sweepstakes. But is it possible? The odds currently look as though it would be more likely that the Vikings would yet again miss their first-round pick entirely than another team would be willing to trade up with them in the opening round (facetiousness aside, the odds that the same team could manage such a faux pas of allowing the clock to expire on their pick twice in the same lifetime are quite immense).
In breaking down the reasons that support this averment, one must first
ask himself which prospect would be worth trading up for? The name that
we hear more often than any other as a potential target worth acquiring
the third-overall pick for is Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
With the increased emphasis on throwing the football, and the
advantageous rule changes favoring the position's long-term health, the
pertinence of having a franchise QB on the roster is all the more
emphasized than even, say, just five years ago. If you do not have one,
you are not winning, it is that simple. This may be the only reason why
Tannehill is even considered a first-round pick let alone a possibility
to go in the top-ten. Having started but 19 games in college, the
Aggie-hurler is raw and unpolished but possesses appealing arm-talent
and abounding intangibles. The teams that may have an interest or should
have an interest in Tannehill -- Cleveland, Miami, and possibly Seattle
and Kansas City -- seemingly have more incentive to either stay pat and
consider Tannehill only if he is there for them at their allotted pick,
or pass on him altogether. Cleveland appears the most disposed toward
Like so many others, I do not believe that Colt McCoy is the answer at QB for the Browns anymore than I believe that their new offensive coordinator -- one Brad Childress -- is capable of "molding" McCoy into an effective signal-caller. But, be that as it may, even if we were to consider Tannehill in a light of fulfilled potential, drafting but the number three quarterback in the draft at the number four pick would be unprecedented. Cleveland fans realize this and are adamantly against the Browns using their fourth overall draft selection on a QB who will not be ready to play immediately. To trade up in order to secure his draft rights would be inordinately more indefensible. The on-going debate involving Christain Ponder's effectiveness and the need for the Vikings to surround him with more playmakers applies just as much to McCoy, if not more so. And with Childress's "quarterback grooming" megalomania now becoming a part of the equation also, it is highly unlikely that the Browns would crave Tannehill enough to take him at No. 4. An additional factor to consider when determining the likelihood of a Browns-Vikings trade is that their President, Mike Holmgren, was the head coach of the Seahawks at the time the Vikings swiped Steve Hutchinson from his roster via a tendered free agent contract containing a "poison pill" provision Seattle was unable to match. What would be water under the bridge by now for most NFL personnel, Holmgren has an inveterate reputation for holding a grudge and is unlikely to make any deals that might end up being beneficial for the Vikings. And with Cleveland representing in the "Tannehill sweepstakes" the proverbial corner-card in a house built from a deck of them, even an appearance of genuine disinterest in selecting him at No. 4 is enough to topple the incentive of any and all remaining teams that may have been deeming it necessary to get ahead of Cleveland in order to get a crack at drafting Tannehill.
Miami, on the other hand, appears to have an authentic affection for Tannehill with his former Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman now being the Dolphins' offensive coordinator. Miami has struggled to find a franchise quarterback since Dan Marino retired; and with missed opportunities in free agency this off-season to upgrade at the position, Dolphins' fans are getting restless. With no teams drafting between them and Cleveland in the market for a quarterback, Miami may decide that the best approach to take in hopes of yielding the highest return might just be to stay at No. 8, and if Tannehill is there when they are on the clock, they can then maximize the value of selecting him by having not forfeited any draft picks in a move up to get him. But if Miami were to believe that Cleveland is actually a threat to draft Tannehill, the Dolphins would have to contend with a Vikings' GM that has already made it known that he does not want to move too far down off their pick. Advantage: Cleveland. To overcome it, Miami would probably have to offer the Vikings even more than they would if they were the sole pursuers of Tannehill's services.
In evaluating the risk-to-reward rate on an investment in Tannehill after trading up for him, on the surface it appears Miami would assume vastly more risk than the potential for reward. Whatever it would take in order to move into the Vikings' spot -- the conversation beginning no doubt with Miami's first-round pick in next year's draft -- it would always have to be factored into the equation when weighing any success Tannehill were to achieve in the NFL. Even with a Super Bowl ring highlighting his résumé, it was not until he obtained a second this past year that finally a consensus formed acknowledging that the Giants had not given up too much in a trade with the Chargers for the draft rights to Eli Manning (an argument complicated by knowing that the Giants would still have had Phillip Rivers if they had not made the trade). But in the case of Tannehill, the risk is compounded all the more by him having started but 19 games in college. That in itself would be assuming a lot of risk if Miami used their own No. 8 pick to select Tannehill. If you then factor in how ever many additional picks the Dolphins invested into Tannehill via trading up to draft him, and it seems but certain that no professional franchise would be so temerarious.
What renders the scenario of some team trading with the Vikings so to draft Tannehill even more unlikely is that teams like Kansas City, Seattle, or even Philadelphia being where they are in the draft order would have to give up so much to move to the No. 3 that they would be more inclined to see whether he gets past Cleveland, and if so, trading with Jacksonville at No. 7, saving themselves aplenty in terms of compensation in not having had to deal with the Vikings.
But is their anyone other than Tannehill that a team would be willing to move up to the Vikings' pick in order to get?
There is another possibility worth entertaining in perhaps Tampa Bay falling so head-over-heals for Alabama running back Trent Richardson that they may want to leap-frog Cleveland in order to get him. Word is that the new head coach of the Buccaneers, Greg Schiano, wants to implement a run-heavy offense like he did at Rutgers University. But, Cleveland also is in the hunt for a franchise running back to take pressure off the aforementioned Colt McCoy and are rumored to be smitten with the powerful Roll Tide runner considered to be the best RB prospect since Adrian Peterson. But Tampa Bay needing a cornerback as much as they need a horse to effectuate Schiano's run-first offense diminishes the possibility of them trading up with the Vikings since Morris Claiborne would be available also should Cleveland take Richardson. To get the top rated defensive player in the draft -- who also happens to fill an immediate need -- at No. 5 would be enough to make any team do cartwheels over a consolation prize. By staying pat and keeping all their picks, Tampa can land the best corner in the draft and get, say, Doug Martin in the second-round and come out looking like aces.
Consequently, it would seem as though logic does not support any trade scenarios involving the Vikings' third overall pick. However, the rumors will persist from now until draft day about teams talking with the Vikings and possibly even making trade offers. Being how those rumors were started in Rick Spielman's office, how fitting it will be that come the Vikings pick they will end there as well.