“We knew it would be close on Xavier,” Paton said. “But when he and Sharrif Floyd both started falling, we were like … ‘This could be pretty good.’ ”
The Vikings ranked Floyd, the Florida defensive tackle, in their top 10. But other than including him in their top-30 predraft visit, the Vikings spent little time discussing him as a possibility almost until they were on the clock.
“We still thought the Bears would take him at No. 20,” Spielman said. “In that case, we would have gone Xavier, Patterson and still been happy as hell.”
The Bears aren’t complaining either. While Floyd was being groomed quietly behind Kevin Williams last season, their selection at No. 20 — Oregon guard Kyle Long — made the Pro Bowl.
When the Vikings grabbed Rhodes at No. 25, they did so with a touch of sadness because they assumed it would cost them Patterson.
Everyone has a role
Spielman and Bob Hagan, the team’s director of public relations, arranged for Spielman to address the media as soon as Spielman made the pick at No. 25.
But as he left the draft room, he told Paton and Rob Brzezinski, vice president of football operations and the team’s salary cap expert, to put out some feelers to see what it would take to move from No. 52 to the top of the second round the next day.
“Rob and George are the guys who work the phones for trades on draft day,” Spielman said. “They do a great job.”
Spielman likes to have three options for every pick. He asks Paton and Brzezinski that one of those options always be a trade down to get more picks. That keeps both men attached to their land lines and cellphones throughout the draft.
“To move up [from No. 52] to the top of the second round, it was going to cost us a third- and a fourth-round pick,” Paton said. “We had the ammo [with an extra fourth rounder].”
As the Packers were on the clock for their allotted 10 minutes at No. 26, Paton and Brzezinski alternated calling the top five teams in the second round — Jacksonville, Tennessee, Philadelphia, Detroit and Cincinnati.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
“And then Rob and I talked and figured, ‘Let’s try to get up in the first round for the same price,’ ” Paton said. “We saw that New England, at No. 29, only had five picks and they like to trade. So that was our first call.”
Paton and Brzezinski hadn’t talked to Spielman. There wasn’t time. By now, the Texans were nearing the end of their time on the clock at No. 27.
Nick Caserio, New England’s director of player personnel, said the Patriots were interested and would get back to the Vikings within minutes because they were on the clock in less than 20.