With Luck, RG3 out of running, who goes third?

Wide receiver Michael Floyd could go to the Vikes at No. 3. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images/AFP)

Wide receiver Michael Floyd could go to the Vikes at No. 3. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images/AFP)

John Kryk, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:17 PM ET

NEW YORK - The Indianapolis Colts on Tuesday announced they'll select Andrew Luck to start the NFL draft Thursday night.

Well, there goes everybody's mock draft.

NOT!

People here in the Big Apple are more surprised when a horn honks.

"In fairness to Andrew Luck and fairness to the whole process -- the media gauntlet he's going to be enduring the next couple of days -- I thought it was the right thing to do to announce we're going to take him," Indianapolis general manager Ryan Grigson said. "I didn't see the point in prolonging what the world already knows.

"It's about Andrew. We wanted to do the right thing by him."

That the Colts could have done the right thing by Luck at the scouting combine two months ago is beside the point.

Of course, if you can identify a football in a lineup, you've known since February that Luck and Robert Griffin III are going 1-2 in this draft. The Redskins will take RG3.

But who will the Minnesota Vikings select at No. 3? And the Cleveland Browns at No. 4?

That's where the drama begins in this year's draft, as the Big Apple waits to become the centre of the sports universe for yet another night.

The entire Top 10 of the first round -- Tampa Bay is at 5, St. Louis at 6, Jacksonville at 7, Miami at 8, Carolina at 9 and Buffalo at 10 -- hinges on those third and fourth picks. Everybody's dying to know who the Vikes and Browns have in mind.

It's like when you are a kid, desperate to know what your parents bought you for Christmas. If you sneak a peek behind the blankets in the closet, the surprise is ruined. But many kids do it anyway.

And so, with no closet door to creak open, hundreds of NFL reporters and bloggers, plus millions of NFL fans, are left to obsess over their mock drafts.

When it comes to the Minnesota and Cleveland picks, mock-draft opinions are as varied as they are resolute.

But I think I've figured out what the Vikings are going to do. After perusing way too many mock drafts, I can't help but come to the following crystal-clear conclusion:

The Vikes need a rhino of a lineman to protect second-year quarterback Christian Ponder, so it just has to be USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil. Except the Vikes need a playmaker at wideout, so it has to be Justin Blackmon. Or Michael Floyd, who's better. Except they'd be stupid in this pass-crazy league to not take the best shutdown corner available, Morris Claiborne. Except Dre Kirkpatrick is that corner. Or, actually, it's Janoris Jenkins, but he has off-field issues.

Forehead, see wall. Slam into it. Repeat.

Fact is, no one outside of the scouts, coaches, player-personnel executives and maybe their wives know who the Vikes are going to take. If you don't fall into that category, like everybody else you're just guessing.

While the Vikings' pick is a cranium-cracker, the Brownies' at No. 4 is likely to be a head-scratcher.

Somehow they're gonna screw it up. Right? They always do.

The safest thing the Browns could do, and probably the smartest, would be to select the hands-down best running back to come out of the college ranks since Adrian Peterson in 2008. That would be Trent Richardson from Alabama.

"I think his height, width, speed and toughness all constitute a pretty solid pick," NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said a while back.

"Part of it depends on what (the Browns) are trying to do at the quarterback position. If you're going to stand pat with Colt McCoy, you better play great defence, special teams and run the football."

In other words, now that the Browns are seemingly standing pat with McCoy, they shouldn't even bother looking at any other option.

So, of course, they reportedly are.

Speculation is that the Browns might take Blackmon or Floyd. Or maybe they'll take one of the hot cornerbacks. Or even Kalil, the tackle.

There is even renewed speculation the Browns might take the third-rated quarterback in this draft, Ryan Tannehill of Texas A&M. But as high as many experts are on Tannehill, he's not seen as an immediate starter.

If the Browns monumentally screw up that No. 4 pick, there's even better news. They have another chance later in the first round, at 22, to do it again.

 

Hey, it's not just about the first round

Do we all obsess too much over the first round of the NFL draft?

Of course we do.

Once most mock-drafters get to the 32nd pick at the end of the first round, the variables overwhelm. It's just too hard to predict after that.

That's just as well.

"To me, it's not just about the first round or the second round or the third round," NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said. "It doesn't necessarily matter where your all-pros come from, which round. It just matters that you get enough of them to be good.

"So from my perspective, it's about the entire draft, from top to bottom, including free agents. And I think teams look at it that way, also. We put way too much attention on these high-level guys."

john.kryk@sunmedia.ca

@JohnKryk

blogs.canoe.ca/krykslants/


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