Rick Spielman proved a man worthy of being an NFL General Manager in his first appearance to the Vikings war room with that title.
He has been laying the ground work for months. Telling anyone that would listen that he liked tackle Matt Kalil, receiver Justin Blackmon, and cornerback Morris Claiborne equally.
It was really a matter of simple math. The Vikings had the third pick. The Browns and the Bucs were sure to be candidates for the services of Trent Richardson, whom Spielman’s staff probably rated high enough to make him confident other teams rated equally as high, and the Browns were picking at four while the Bucs were at five.
By identifying three players that he supposedly graded exactly equally, and publically declaring so, he was sending a signal that he would be willing to trade backwards as low as the five spot and still be guaranteed a player from the top of his board.
The public statements were probably never aimed at the Bucs or anyone else. Instead, the Browns were targeted from the get-go as Spielman had likely been targeting Kalil all along as many expected. However, by stating the three players publically, the seeds were planted and the Browns couldn’t help but wonder if Spielman was serious. If he was, then the Bucs could jump up and grab Richardson right in front of them.
There was risk involved in any of this subterfuge for Spielman, as he knew any picks he could milk out of the Browns were just a bonus as he would still be able to grab his man, Kalil. In fact, Kalil will now be at a slightly lower salary slot which should help the salary cap situation a tiny amount over the next four years.
To me, the coolest part of all of this is just how much Spielman was then able to milk from the Browns after he sufficiently swindled them into moving up. By moving back one space in a no-risk move, the Browns gave the Vikings an additional fourth rounder (#118), a fifth rounder (#139), and a seventh rounder (#211). Not only does this provide the Vikings with the potential for more draftees, but it gives them added firepower to move up and target specific players they have a high value on.
According to the old Jimmy Johnson trade chart, which can be view at our trade chart page, the Vikings gave up 400 “points” by sliding back this one spot. They, in fact, gave up nothing though because they still got the guy they wanted. In return, the Vikings got those three picks which have a total value of 102.5 points.
In the more modernized “Harvard Chart” the Vikings only gave up 24.4 points while gaining a total value of 188.6 points from the other three picks. It is debatable as to which chart is the most valid following the new CBA, but there is little arguing that the Vikings got something for nothing out of this deal.
Spielman was grinning from ear to ear at the presser following the Kalil pick, relishing the fact that his performance not only tricked the media but also tricked the Browns into thinking he was such a wild card.
“I didn’t undersell anyone,” Spielman said regarding his pre-Draft tactics. “I just said I like all three players.”
And that is all he had to say.
The Vikings entered Thursday with ten picks.
The first five picks weren’t even made yet and he had 12 picks left, drafted a guy he thinks will be a heck of a left tackle, and upgraded his left guard position in the meantime.
Well done, sir, very well done!
I’ll break down the trade up that came later in round one shortly.