Mary Altaffer, Associated Press
NEW YORK — Minnesota, you are on the clock.
Whoa! What happened to the first two picks in the NFL draft?
Of course, the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins will make those two choices to kick off Thursday night's proceedings. But the uncertainty at the very top disappeared a while ago, since the Colts announced they will take Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, and the Redskins made it clear Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III was their man.
That unofficially puts Minnesota on the clock and one thing seems definite: Anything could happen with the Vikings' pick.
With a half-dozen or so players considered elite in this college crop, Minnesota figures to choose between Southern California tackle Matt Kalil, Alabama running back Trent Richardson, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne and Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon. Selecting Richardson would indicate concern by the Vikings about the recovery of star running back Adrian Peterson from torn left knee ligaments suffered in late December.
Or, as Vikings general manager Rick Spielman and coach Leslie Frazier have indicated, they might just swap the pick, moving down in the first round and collecting more spots.
"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 said.
Spielman said the market for the No. 3 pick has "heated up," and there are certainly other teams interested enough in Richardson or Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill or Kalil or Claiborne.
"Mo Claiborne is maybe one of the most talented corners I've seen come out in a long time," Spielman said.
Conjecture on who winds up in that third spot has ramped up in part because of the rookie wage scale that sets contract parameters for high picks.
"There's some cost certainty now at top of the draft, you understand better what you getting financially for certain picks and there is more money to spend on the veteran players now," Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said.
Plus, with the ever-increasing importance of quarterbacks, a player such as Tannehill — a receiver for most of his college career — sees his value soar.
"They're such a rare commodity that we have to do everything we can to entertain the thought that if any one of those guys comes to us, what would we do?" said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, even though Seattle signed Matt Flynn to a huge free-agent contract.
A major trade lifted the Redskins into the No. 2 spot. Washington sent the sixth overall choice this year to St. Louis, along with a second-rounder, plus first-round picks in 2013 and 2014. The Redskins did all that to grab Griffin.
It could set in motion lots more trades. Seahawks general manager John Schneider said he expected lots of movement in the first round — and the first pick available is Minnesota's selection.
"I have a suspicion that once the gun goes off with the first pick in the draft, we're going to be pretty close to our pick," Spielman said. "We'll have a pretty good idea if we would pull the trigger on a trade and it may not be until we're on the clock."
Minnesota, you are on the clock. Sort of.
AP Sports Writers Dave Campbell in Minneapolis and Tim Booth in Seattle contributed to this story.
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