NEW YORK — So much for a lack of drama atop the NFL draft.
Chalk and trade were the themes of Thursday night’s wild talent auction that spun from foregone conclusions with quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III locked in as the top two picks into a frenzied, unexpected game of “Let’s Make a Deal.”
Alabama running back Trent Richardson joined new faces of the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins Luck and Griffin, respectively, as this draft’s top three picks. Richardson became the new workhorse for the Cleveland Browns when the Minnesota Vikings swapped their No. 3 pick for Cleveland’s fourth slot.
Afterward, Griffin’s father, Robert II hugged Richardson downstairs, leaned into his ear and whispered, “I told you so.”
“I ran across a lot of people last night here who knew the Browns wanted to trade up to get Trent,” Griffin II said. “He’s a great kid.”
Same goes for his son, whose burgundy-and-gold socks bore this draft’s mantra: “Go catch your dream.”
Or your playmaker.
“My dream came true,” the new Redskins quarterback said. “Now it’s time to make that dream a success. I’m ready to work and ready to help them succeed.
“I know the excitement is high. I wouldn’t tell them to shut it down.”
Turns out, Minnesota’s move back one spot triggered a dizzying run of three trades within the top six picks and five total deals within the to 21 selections.
“That’s the draft, that’s why so many fans watch,” said Carolina Panthers center Ryan Kalil, brother of new Vikings left tackle Matt Kalil, chosen at No. 4 by Minnesota. “There’s always one pick every year that throws it all off and messes up a lot of mock drafts.”
By the time the Browns selected Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden at No. 22, four quarterbacks had come off the board, including new Miami Dolphins passer Ryan Tannehill, the eighth pick who was reunited with his former Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman, Miami’s offensive coordinator.
The Jacksonville Jaguars and Dallas Cowboys were inspired to follow Minnesota’s bold lead to bolt up for their man.
Jacksonville jumped two slots from No. 7 to Tampa Bay’s spot at No. 5 in exchange for a fourth-round pick to select Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon.
“Not much was going through my mind,” Blackmon said of his wait the green room. “I was just waiting for the phone call.
“Anything can happen. That just goes to show you, that anything can happen with the draft.”
The Cowboys kept the swap meet going when they vaulted from No. 14 to St. Louis’ sixth spot to land LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, surrendering a second-round pick. Finally, Tampa Bay stayed put and landed Alabama safety Mark Barron .
The Vikings, who had worked the phones like telemarketers were relieved to get Clevealnd’s fourth-, fifth- and seventh-round picks in exchange for the chance to nab Southern Cal left tackle Matt Kalil.
“Talking to (Vikings coach) Leslie Frazier Tuesday, that trade is what the Vikings were hoping happened,” said NBC Football Night in America analyst Tony Dungy, Frazier’s close friend. “They need a lot of weaponry.”
In Richardson, the Browns got an all-around, every-down dynamo.
“Trent Richardson reminds me a little bit of Maurice Jones-Drew,” Hall of Famer Barry Sanders said. “He can run inside and break tackles.”