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Well, once again, if the Claiborne chatter is smoke… the Vikings are taking it to a ridiculous level.
Steve Wyche of nfl.com reports that the Vikings have LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne at the top of their draft board (presumably, after Andrew Luck) and says a source “reinforced” reports that the Vikings are leaning in that direction.
Of course, many will still believe that all of this Claiborne talk is aimed at generating further trade interest, which is entirely possible.
As we continue to frantically gather tea leaves with hopes of successfully reading them, here is yet another interesting nugget of news.
Both the Cleveland Browns (#4) and the Tampa Bay Bucs (#5) have spoken with the Vikings regarding a trade up to the three spot to grab running back Trent Richardson, according to Charley Casserly.
Either of these scenarios could prove to be ideal for the Vikings. They could move back picking up extra selections while also getting a chance at either Matt Kalil or Morris Claiborne.
Even though the day has arrived in which the Vikings will make their true intentions known regarding the third overall selection in the Draft, there is still time for subterfuge.
One interesting report floating around right now comes from Viking Update. They sent out this tweet saying that LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne’s people were spotted in New York with Vikings gear in tow. This could be a sign of things to come, but it also wouldn’t be totally unreasonable to expect this is just more smoke.
If the Vikings do not plan on selecting Claiborne, however, then they are doing a darn good job of making it seem that way. Nearly every media typ is starting to waver when it comes to Matt Kalil being the pick including Michael Lombardi who says the Vikings are “focused” on Claiborne with hopes of getting an offensive tackle in the second round.
Let’s assume for a second that Rick Spielman is full of you-know-what and has had his sights on Matt Kalil since December. So, why not just come out and say so?
If this is the case, then Spielman deserves a lot of credit for successfully generating a trade market for the third overall selection despite the presumed absence of the two premier passers in this class. If he manages to finagle a trade back and still land Kalil, then the guy is going to look like a freaking genius and many of us are going to have a whole ton of crow to eat after doubting the guy all offseason long.
So, with Andrew Luck and RGIII already off the board, what kind of trade interest might the Vikings get when they pick up their phones in the war room? Let’s take a look.
If you read our comments section and have done so recently, you have surely noticed that a new Vikings site called Vikings Draft Card has a very staunch supporter (highly unlikely to be the writer of the site, right? Right.) that loves dumping links from that site onto ours.
The site appears to have just been started this month and, by all appearances, has a main purpose of persuading Vikings fans that Matt Kalil is not worth being drafted in the three spot that the Vikings currently hold and should instead draft Morris Claiborne. I am all about opposing views and going against the grain, so I really do recommend checking out the site. However, we won’t be adding them to our blogroll until/unless the site owner decides to put his or her name (or any name) to the words they write.
Still, I have to give that site credit (and the person posting links in our comments section) for pointing us towards a report coming out of Green Bay that essentially leaks Wonderlic scores of a number of top prospects in this Draft class.
Much has been made of the reports that Claiborne scored an astonishingly low Wonderlic grade of “4” which would assuredly rank him amongst the lowest scores ever. Even Vince Young did better.
However, the latest leaks suggest that maybe Kalil isn’t the brightest bulb on the tree either.
The score is lowest amongst the reported scores for offensive tackles, and second lowest of all offensive linemen reported on. He scored 11 points less than the average score for offensive tackles, but is still 11 points ahead of Claiborne’s score which can allegedly be written off to a learning disability.
So, there you have it, some evidence that might suggest the Vikings should pass on the USC left tackle that yours truly rates as the second best player (yes, including quarterbacks) in this class. For me, this just more evidence that the Vikings instead should take any trade offers very seriously.
A Wonderlic score may or may not be any sort of indicator of a prospect’s future as a football player, but I still think the Vikings must take Kalil if they remain at the three spot.
I can’t help but notice a trend.
Today, the trend that is glaringly obvious if you are bouncing around Vikings sites and looking at the “Twitter Thing” at the bottom of our page involves the Vikings passing on USC left tackle Matt Kalil.
Morris Claiborne is at the center of the speculation, despite weeks of media types labeling this as “smoke” and dismissing it as gamesmanship. I, myself, still find it hard to believe that this is anything but “smoke” and still believe that Kalil is the obvious choice if the Vikings stay at the three spot.
I do, however, fully buy into the idea that Rick Spielman wants to trade down. He wants that right deal to present itself so that he can load up on picks to help expedite his plan to rebuild the roster. Of late, it seems a trade partner might be more interested in jumping up to snag Trent Richardson at the three spot, and I would recommend keeping an eye on the Bengals who have a clear need at running back and are armed with two first round picks.
In our debate last week, it was clear that most of you sided with Brett’s judgment that staying at three and selecting Kalil was far better than my feeling that trading back for as big of a ransom as possible is the best route to take. For better or worse, I think Spielman’s thinking is more in line with mine and he will be eager to trade back on Thursday, if even just a few spots.
Regardless, something that has seemed like a “sure thing” since February is no looking iffy. With local beat writers and connected insiders starting to doubt Kalil as the Vikings prospect of choice, the drama for Thursday night should be through the roof.