EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Though a lot of misinformation is being spread in the days before the NFL Draft begins Thursday, Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman made it clear Tuesday that the “for sale” sign is up on the No. 3 pick.
Speaking at his annual predraft press conference, Spielman said the Vikings are still trying to decide between three players — Southern California left tackle Matt Kalil, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne and Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon — but he’s very interested in trading out of the third overall spot and that talks are “heating up” about possible trades.
“We’re going to be very open to the trade scenario,” Spielman said. “That front has really heated up over the last 24 hours, and I’m sure it will continue to heat up as we head into Thursday night. So there will be some very important decisions as we go forward on the three players I have mentioned. With the trade scenario, can you still get an impact player by still trading back?
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“Looking at our draft board and the depth of the board, we still think there is a lot of good value in that first round. If you go back X amount of spots, you can still get an impact player.”
Spielman didn’t want to say how far the Vikings are willing to move back in a possible trade, but he is excited about the possibilities because Kalil, Claiborne and Blackmon are considered elite prospects at their respective positions.
Kalil would seem to be an excellent fit for Minnesota, which is trying to rebuild an offensive line that has lost cornerstones Bryant McKinnie, Steve Hutchinson and Anthony Herrera in the past year. Claiborne would be an immediate upgrade to a struggling secondary that was probably the weakest spot in the Vikings’ 3-13 season last year. Blackmon would give second-year quarterback Christian Ponder another weapon to develop with in the passing game.
But Spielman is always willing to deal. Minnesota has 10 picks in the draft and could have the tools to move around. Trading back to add more picks and fortifying a depleted roster is enticing to Spielman, who said he has gotten enough calls that, “there is a potential for a trade.”
Still, he wants to be patient to see if better offers come in Thursday.
“If you pull the trigger on something early, it better be something very, very, almost too good to be true,” Spielman said. “Or, the other thing is to be patient, see what happens on Thursday. I have a suspicion that we’re not going to, once the gun goes off with the first pick of the draft, we’re going to be pretty close to our pick. So we’ll have a pretty good idea if we would pull the trigger on a trade.
“It may not be until we’re on the clock. It may be a situation that you want to make sure, one more time, that someone doesn’t want to come up and make a deal. I don’t see a benefit doing anything before then. It could happen, depending on what is offered, but I really believe in kind of being patient and settling and seeing what comes to you. Not going out there and making calls. There has been a lot, I don’t want to say a lot, but there has been X amount of teams that have already started to call.”
Spielman said he doesn’t believe he needs to create a market for the third-overall pick behind the presumptive top two overall choices: Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck and Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. Teams have been rumored to be interested in moving up for the likes of quarterback Ryan Tannehill, running back Trent Richardson and even Claiborne.
For now, Spielman is comfortable with his situation. He said Kalil, Claiborne and Blackmon all have exactly the same grade on Minnesota’s draft board.
“There’s no negatives on those three players,” Spielman said. “You look at it and just look from a need standpoint.”
Wide receiver and cornerback are considered to be deeper positions in the draft, but Spielman said the depth won’t affect the Vikings’ pick at No. 3.
“It has no effect, No. 3,” Spielman said. “I think those players are unique players. I can tell you, if you have the opportunity to take one of those three, those are players you can’t pass up.”