Major trades highlight NFL Draft’s first round
NEW YORK (MCT) — At the top, the NFL draft was anticlimactic because Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck knew for weeks he would go No. 1 to Indianapolis and Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III knew Washington traded a king’s ransom to get up to No. 2 to take the Heisman Trophy winner. But after those two were taken, the chalk draft quickly needed an eraser as four trades in the top 12 picks shuffled the order on Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall.
Worried about losing Alabama running back Trent Richardson, Cleveland sacrificed its picks in the fourth, fifth and seventh rounds to move up just one spot to No. 3. The Vikings gladly accepted that windfall to drop to No. 4 and take USC tackle Matt Kalil, as they always planned to do.
In short order, Jacksonville, Dallas and Philadelphia all made moves to leapfrog other teams to get the player they wanted. The Jaguars gave a fourth-round pick to Tampa Bay to go up to No. 5 and grab Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon.
The Cowboys were believed to have Alabama safety Mark Barron high on their radar, but they stunned by offering their second-round pick to St. Louis to go to No. 6 for LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. “I was shocked,” Claiborne said. “They didn’t even talk to me.”
Tampa Bay grabbed Barron at No. 7 before No. 8 Miami got back on script by selecting Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill, whose stock heated up recently and who was coached in college by new Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman. But before the Jets chose North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples at No. 16, there was a fourth trade.
Philadelphia jumped from No. 15 to No. 12 in a deal with Seattle to grab West Virginia defensive end Bruce Irvin.
If there was another trend in the first round, it was that NFL teams confirmed Alabama and LSU as the best college teams by selecting five of the first 17 players from those schools. Besides Richardson, Barron and Claiborne, LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers went to St. Louis at No. 14 and Alabama defensive back Dre Kirkpatrick was chosen No. 17 by Cincinnati.
Of course, it’s the top two quarterbacks who are expected to grab headlines from the start. Luck has the tallest order, stepping in for all-time great Peyton Manning at rebuilding Indianapolis. “Peyton Manning is arguably the greatest quarterback ever,” Luck said. “He was my hero growing up. You can never fill those shoes. They’re huge shoes.”
New England made two more trades later in the first round to get Cincinnati’s pick at No. 21 and Denver’s pick at No. 23. Brandon Weeden of Oklahoma State became the fourth first-round quarterback when he went to Cleveland with its second pick at No. 22, indicating the Browns aren’t sold on starter Colt McCoy.
Baylor’s Griffin, who had his big New York night in December when he beat out Luck for the Heisman, also was well prepared for the moment when asked to size up the NFC East, where he will be matched against two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning of the Giants, Michael Vick of Philadelphia and Tony Romo of Dallas.
“It’s going to be an exciting division with great quarterback play and great pass rushers,” Griffin said. With a smile, he added, “I also don’t look forward to playing against Morris Claiborne all the time.”
Although he is wildly popular in Texas, Griffin said he would understand if “some Dallas fans don’t like me anymore even as a person.” Showing he, too, has changed his stripes, Griffin then displayed Redskins maroon and gold socks with a label saying, “Go catch your dream.”