NEW YORK (AP) — The second round of the NFL draft begins Friday night with St. Louis on the clock. Unless, of course, the Rams and the rest of the teams are still in a trading mood.
St. Louis was as active as anyone in the frenzied wheeling and dealing of the opening round. The Rams actually got it started weeks ago when they moved down from No. 2 to No. 6, receiving a boatload of picks from Washington because the Redskins wanted to take Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. The Rams also moved down from sixth to 14th in a deal with Dallas, which took LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne.
When the bartering was over, there were eight trades Thursday night involving 12 of the league’s 32 teams.
Those deals affected the rest of the seven rounds, of course. Minnesota and Tampa Bay traded back into the first round when it was almost complete, surrendering second-round spots to Baltimore and Denver, respectively. The Vikings and Buccaneers sent their earlier first-round picks elsewhere, too.
“This is what makes the draft so fun,” Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said after using the 29th overall pick to grab Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith. “The moving up and down and accumulating picks then using those picks to potentially move back up if you target a player. I know the depth at safety in this draft was very slim. We wanted to make sure that we started on our secondary and improving that area. We feel very strongly that Harrison will definitely do that.”
Tampa Bay jumped back into the opening round at No. 31, one spot from the end, to get Boise State running back Doug Martin.
“There was a guy we targeted that we had a lot of interest in,” Buccaneers GM Mark Dominik said. “For a couple reasons we made that trade for Doug Martin. No. 1 who he is, a great team leader at Boise State … a productive football player. We felt like we wanted to get a back in this year’s draft and felt he was a complete back. To do that, what happens also is you … end up with a five-year deal on a first-year pick’s contract, which is important to me because that is extra value you get that isn’t always seen.”
Plus, the Bucs sent the fourth-round pick they acquired from Jacksonville earlier in the first round — the Jaguars took safety Mark Barron of Alabama — to the Broncos, but Tampa Bay still owns another spot in the fourth round.
“Obviously we have five more selections to go and we’re very excited about that,” Dominik said.
Not that it’s a given the Bucs will keep all of those choices.
The trading frenzy was driven in part by the rookie wage scale that helps set costs for picks in the first round. With the extravagant salaries and bonuses toned down, teams are much more willing to move up, whether it’s one spot to ensure getting a player you desperately want — Cleveland dealing with Minnesota to grab Alabama running back Trent Richardson — or 11, as the Patriots did with two trades.
“We can’t predict what’s going to happen, so we just watch the players as they come off (the board),” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “When we have opportunities, we take advantage of them. We didn’t know we would be able to trade up to where we were for the cost we had to pay. But it worked out that way, so great.”
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.