The Vikings and Browns both got the players they said they wanted early in Thursday's draft -- and there's no reason to believe otherwise given that every player the Vikings could have wanted was still available at No. 4 and the price the Browns paid to take Trent Richardson, the running back in whom the Vikings had no interest other than as bait to pull off a stunning coup.

But back that up a minute: Just how in the world did the Vikings get THREE extra draft picks to move down one spot and take the guy they would have chosen anyway? Well, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer's interview with GM Tom Heckert -- the man the Wilf family wanted to hire to run the franchise in 2006 before he stayed with Philadelphia and left the job open to the very short Fran Foley tenure -- it was just this easy:

Heckert said his friend Rick Spielman, the Vikings GM, told him the competing offer he had for Richardson "and I beat it."

As suspected, then, Cleveland was playing defense against some other team -- unnamed, but we would hope the Browns at least checked on Slick Rick's claim of another dance partner -- swooping in at No. 3 at landing Richardson. In essence, then, the Justin Blackmon / Matt Kalil / Morris Claiborne smokescreen wasn't the big winner for Spielman. It was playing teams against each other in their quest to get -- or at least have the chance to get -- Richardson.

Either way, of course, Spielman deserves praise for working the system long enough to get a 4th, 5th and 7th round pick without limiting the team's options at all. And of course that flexibility let the Vikings jump back into the first round to take safety Harrison Smith.

We can understand where Cleveland was coming from, but this still has to go down as a major fleecing. If you don't think so, imagine how you would feel if the Vikings had done what Cleveland did. Better yet, imagine if the Vikings had done what Cleveland did, and it happened during the Brad Childress Era. Exactly.

Winners and losers are fun to pick on draft night. Usually it's throwing darts at a board, guessing at which of these prospects will really turn out. For now, though, it is easy to say Spielman and the Vikings won Thursday. The Browns and Heckert got their man, but they still blinked and lost.

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