x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Trade deals shake up first round of NFL's draft

After the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins selected quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, respectively, it opened up a flood of trades with teams moving up and down in the first round of the NFL draft.

After Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, announced Indianapolis' pick of Andrew Luck, right, and Washington's selection of Robert Griffin III, the rest of the first round of the NFL draft was a trade frenzy.
After Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, announced Indianapolis' pick of Andrew Luck, right, and Washington's selection of Robert Griffin III, the rest of the first round of the NFL draft was a trade frenzy.

 

NEW YORK // Once the NFL draft got past quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, it was like a day on Wall Street - everybody wanted to make a trade.

The wheeling and dealing started even before the Indianapolis Colts opened the proceedings as expected Thursday by taking Stanford's Luck with the first pick and the Washington Redskins followed by selecting the young man known as RG3 out of Baylor.

Behind closed doors, general managers around the league were jockeying to position their teams to land the most coveted player on their draft board.

When it was over, there were eight trades involving 12 of the league's 32 teams.

It all started when the Minnesota Vikings swapped their No 3 choice for Cleveland's No 4 pick.

The Browns, who also gave up a fourth, fifth and seventh-rounder, desperately wanted Alabama running back Trent Richardson.

The Vikings still got the guy they sought in Southern California tackle Matt Kalil.

"Unfortunately, we had to make a little trade to secure the pick," said Pat Shurmur, the Browns coach, who later added quarterback Brandon Weeden with the No 22 selection. "We knew as we went through the process that he was our guy and so we did what we had to do to secure it.

"We had pretty good knowledge that there were teams behind that wanted him as well, so we gave up a couple of picks to make sure we got him. We're thrilled a bunch about Trent."

The move allowed the Vikings to deal for another first-round pick, gaining the No 29 spot in a trade with Baltimore and choosing Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith.

"That trade with Cleveland kind of set the tone for this draft, and us being able to do some things," said Rick Spielman, the Vikings general manager. "That was a huge, huge thing to get done right before the draft started.

The Jacksonville Jaguars, Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles also traded up, and the New England Patriots did it twice to select players they wanted. Credit the rookie wage scale for so much buying and selling, with GMs making last-minute moves knowing that extravagant salaries for top picks have been replaced by a compensation plan.

The Jaguars moved up to No 5 from No 7 and grabbed wide receiver Justin Blackmon. The Buccaneers, at No 7, chose Alabama safety Mark Barron, and also acquired the Jaguars' fourth-round choice.

The St Louis Rams, who had traded away the No 2 overall pick to Washington last month, then traded out their spot at No 6 for Dallas' No 14 choice and a second-rounder, alllowing the Cowboys to grab cornerback Morris Claiborne out of Louisiana State.

The Cowboys came into the draft desperate for defensive playmakers, and Claiborne is considered by most as the best cornerback available. Claiborne led LSU with six interceptions last season, won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back, and averaged 25 yards per kick-off return.

Mark Dominik, the Tampa Bay general manager, said he wanted Barron all along at No 5, but believed he could deal down and still get the All-American, who was a vital cog in the nation's best college defense last season.

"I was a little nervous, though, when the Cowboys moved up to No 6," he said.

The deals were not done yet.

Philadelphia, looking to strengthen their defensive line, moved up three spots to No 12 by making a trade with the Seattle Seahawks and selecting defensive tackle Fletcher Cox out of Mississippi State.

Even the New England Patriots got in on the action with two first-round deals.

The Patriots traded their No 27 pick and third-rounder for the Cincinnati Bengals' No 21 spot and took Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones.

They then dealt the No 31 choice and a fourth-rounder to the Denver Broncos and went for linebacker Dont'a Hightower out of Alabama.

The Super Bowl champion New York Giants concluded a swift but hectic round by choosing running back David Wilson out of Virginia Tech.

Marvin Lewis, the Bengals coach, may have summed up the first of three draft sessions.

"I guess maybe this one-night format is a good thing," he said. "Everybody was fired up to do something on the night."

 

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