In one month, the NFL teams will gather at Radio City Music Hall in New York City for the 2012 NFL Draft. With the first two picks being pretty much set in stone at this point, the Minnesota Vikings find themselves in a catbird's seat of sorts, as they will be able to select the best non-quarterback available after Stanford's Andrew Luck and Baylor's Robert Griffin III come off the board.
The consensus is that the Vikings will jump at the opportunity to take USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil with the third-overall pick. However, this is the period of time as we get closer to the draft that teams attempt to start putting themselves in the best position possible to help their teams. To that end, Vikings' general manager Rick Spielman is now attempting to walk a fine line between talent evaluator and late-night infomercial host.
You know the sort of thing I'm talking about…as someone that has worked a lot of overnight shifts, I can tell you that there comes a point in the morning where the only television options are the Spanish language channels or a raft of infomercials. And when you're watching these infomercials at two or three o'clock in the morning, there comes a point where your brain says, "You know, I could really use a towel that's absorbent enough to suck all of the water out of my aquarium at one time! Let me get on the phone and order some of these!"
That's where Rick Spielman is at right now, folks. He feels that the best thing for his football team would be to acquire more draft picks in order to aid the rebuilding process. However, in order to do that, he has to try to convince other teams to part with their capital in order to acquire something that, in the end, they probably don't really need.
For example, say that Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill tears things up at his Pro Day tomorrow. The Cleveland Browns, who pick behind the Vikings at #4, could be in the market for a quarterback, having missed out on all the relevant options in free agency and not being in a position to take either Luck or Griffin III. They could sit there at #4 and take Tannehill…unless the Vikings can convince the Browns that the equally quarterback-starved Miami Dolphins, who select at #8 in the first round, are interested in moving up to draft Tannehill ahead of them. The Vikings could then explore the possibility of a swap of picks with the Browns (with Cleveland throwing in something extra) to entice the Browns to move up.
Or maybe the Dolphins really would be interested in moving up to the third overall spot to make that choice, in which case the Vikings would be able to extract a great deal from them…probably a swap of first round picks, a second round pick, and at least one third-rounder from the Dolphins in this year's draft.
Then again, maybe a team will fall in love with one of the other "blue-chip" prospects at the top of this year's draft board, such as LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon, or Alabama running back Trent Richardson.
Maybe the Vikings are serious about favoring Claiborne over Kalil, as Spielman has expressed over the course of the past week.
See, that's a lot of "maybes." That's exactly what Rick Spielman is doing right now, attempting to place that sort of doubt in the minds of other NFL teams. He's made it clear that he wants more picks in order to help facilitate the Vikings' rebuilding process, and this is his way of attempting to do it. Will it work? That remains to be seen.
The one thing that I, as a Viking fan, hope for in this is that Spielman doesn't end up "outsmarting" himself in some way. Matt Kalil is the safe, solid pick at #3 overall, the kind of cornerstone lineman that an offense can be built around for years. The Vikings could still trade down and be able to draft Kalil…as long as they don't trade down too far. I understand that accumulating picks can be a good thing, but while picks are nice, teams ultimately aren't built around picks. . .they're built around talent. Matt Kalil is as talented as any other player in the 2012 NFL Draft class, and would be a great addition to this team.
We've got another month of smokescreens to look forward to, folks. You'll be reading a lot about what the Vikings are interested in and not interested in leading up to the 26th of April. There's a method to Rick Spielman's madness, whether it ends up being successful or not.