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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Morris Claiborne to the Vikings? Most -- including Bucs -- not buying it



The Vikings, unlike the Colts and Redskins – owners of the top two picks in the draft – have been noncommittal about who they might select with the third overall choice next month. What they do, obviously, is of great concern to the Bucs, who own the fifth overall pick.

In a story this week in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, writer Bob Sansevere relays some interesting details from a conversation he had with Vikings general manager Rick Spielman. Spielman is described as making a case that the Vikings haven’t yet decided to take USC tackle Matt Kalil at No. 3, suggesting instead that they have their eye on LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. And the fact that the Vikings haven’t addressed the cornerback position in free agency, perhaps, adds some credence.

But here’s the problem: No one in the NFL buys it. That includes the Bucs, who remain convinced the Vikings will ultimately select Kalil to help protect their young quarterback, second-year Florida State product Christian Ponder.

Claiborne is seen as one of the Bucs’ primary draft targets at No. 5, along with Alabama running back Trent Richardson. The conventional wisdom, despite what Spielman says, is that the Browns, at No. 4, are a bigger threat to take Claiborne than the Vikings.

So, why would the Vikings make a fuss about their pick despite their comfortable advantage of knowing the two picks ahead of them? In this case – and I realize this is a long shot – maybe Spielman wants teams to think he’ll pick Claiborne because he hopes a team might be willing to trade up for him.

In the end, it probably doesn’t matter. Kalil is viewed as a potentially elite, longtime starting left tackle. In the NFL draft, that’s second only to franchise quarterback in terms of value. Anything can happen, but the smart money is on the Vikings taking Kalil, making Claiborne far more likely to fall to the Bucs, if indeed they want him.

And what if we're wrong? Well, then, things might just get real interesting on draft night.

[Last modified: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 1:05pm]


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