For about the last month, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman has been trying to peddle the idea that the Vikings aren't completely committed to drafting USC left tackle Matt Kalil with the No. 3 pick.
Specifically, Spielman has been pumping up the possibility of taking LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, who continued to impress and has easily solidified his stock as the top defensive back in the draft. Spielman and Leslie Frazier attended Claiborne's pro day and, apparently like everyone else in attendance, came away impressed.
Last week at his pro day, Claiborne ran 4.39- and 4.44-second 40-yard dashes and recorded a 9-foot-9-inch broad jump and 35-inch vertical jump to improve on his numbers at the NFL Scouting Combine. But, while Claiborne did everything he could to improve his draft stock, there is one thing he can't control – the issue of supply and demand. Free agency saw at least three quality cornerbacks get paid an average of $7 million or more per season, and several other potential starters were also available in the market. There were no surefire starting left tackles, which is exactly what Kalil is considered.
That said, even if Spielman is rightfully trying to create a trade market for the No. 3 draft pick, the Cleveland Browns, once thought to be a consideration for moving up, are no longer in that market. They might consider moving down from their No. 4 draft slot.
"We're not trading up, I guarantee that," Browns general manager Tom Heckert said Monday, according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. "There's going to be five guys that we really like and we're going to get a really good player at number four. But we could still get a really good player at five, six, seven, eight too."
Like the Vikings, the Browns were considered to be in the running for free-agent wide receiver Pierre Garcon, who signed a five-year, $42 million deal with the Washington Redskins. The Browns were also interested in receiver Josh Morgan, who signed a two-year, $6 million contract with the Redskins, meaning the Browns could be looking at Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon in draft, in addition to the possibility of drafting Claiborne.
But what's clear is the Browns are not one of the teams potentially interested in trading up, giving the Vikings' pitch to sell their pick and still draft a blue-chip player much less momentum. Spielman said last month that there was a line the team would likely not trade past because they didn't want to lose out on a blue-chip player.
MOVING ON MOSS
San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh continued to back the team's signing of former Vikings receiver Randy Moss. The 49ers also signed Mario Manningham and Ted Ginn Jr. to add to a receiver corps that already features Michael Crabtree.
"We think it's a good fit for our team. Our dealings with him have been great," Harbaugh said at the NFL owners meetings Wednesday morning, according to Scout.com.
"I want to see Randy put the stamp on a great NFL career, possibly a Hall of Fame career."
Harbaugh downplayed Moss' reputation for sometimes being difficult to deal with in the locker room.
"Some would say he's a complicated guy; some would say I'm a complicated guy," Harbaugh said.
WEBB STILL WAITING
Vikings quarterback Joe Webb knows he won't enter the season as the team's starter, but he's getting quite used to waiting in the wings.
"I've been going through that my whole life. That's my whole career," Webb told a local CBS affiliate at the University of Alabama-Birmingham pro day earlier this month. "In high school, I had to wait, too – my sophomore, junior year to play. UAB I had to wait pretty much (until) my junior year to play the full-time quarterback. So now I start back over. I'm very patient with it. Whenever my opportunity (does) come, I want to make the most of it."
Webb started one game for the Vikings in 2011, but that was as a third receiver. This year, the Vikings have said they will let Webb concentrate on playing quarterback.
"People have their opinion. Some say I can play (quarterback), some people I can't play. That's with everybody," Webb said. "I just go out there. I don't pay them no attention. I just go out there and play my game because I know what I can do. I know the talents God blessed me with so I just go out there and have fun. At the end of the day, you want to enjoy the game because you never know when it's your last snap.
"I have grown mentally a lot, the way I watch film, the way I study the game, I just look at it in more detail."
Webb said learning from Brett Favre and Donovan McNabb the last three years has helped his development, but last year Webb played in only 15 percent of the team's offensive snaps. He completed 34 of 63 passes for 376 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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