The wheeling and dealing started even before the Colts opened the proceedings as expected Thursday night by taking Luck and the Redskins followed by selecting RG3.
Behind closed doors, general managers around the league were gabbing away, 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 and draftniks breathlessly trying to keep up with the organized mayhem. It all started when Minnesota swapped its 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 Browns coach Pat Shurmur, 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,” Vikings GM Rick Spielman said. “That was a huge, huge thing to get done right before the draft started.
The Jaguars, Cowboys and Eagles also traded up, and the 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for so much buying and selling, with GMs making last-minute moves knowing that extravagant salaries for top picks have been replaced by a compensation plan.
There were no such concerns for Indianapolis and Washington.
Stanford’s Luck heads for Indianapolis and the burden of replacing Peyton Manning, who merely won four MVP awards and a Super Bowl. Baylor’s RGIII answers the call in Washington, where he will try to soothe a devout but highly critical fan base.
“You don’t really replace a guy like that,” Luck said. “You can’t. You just try to do the best you can. Obviously, he was my hero growing up.”
His selection as the top pick was hardly a stunner. The Colts informed Luck last week that Commissioner Roger Goodell would announce his name first. Right behind him was Griffin; no suspense attached to that pick, either.
After being loudly booed at the start, Goodell told a raucous crowd at Radio City Music Hall that “the season begins tonight, so let’s kick if off.” Then he did, congratulating Luck to chants of “RG3, RG3.”
Luck left the stage, slapped hands with some fans in Colts shirts and headed to the interview room.