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After Luck, RG III, eight first-round trades

(L-R) Quarterback prospects Robert Griffin III from Baylor

(L-R) Quarterback prospects Robert Griffin III from Baylor and Andrew Luck from Stanford arrive on the red carpet during the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. (April 26, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

At the top, the NFL draft was anticlimactic because Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck knew for weeks he would go No. 1 to Indianapolis and Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III knew Washington traded up to No. 2 to take the Heisman Trophy winner. But after those two were taken, the chalk draft quickly needed an eraser as eight trades shuffled the order Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall.

There were four trades in the first 12 picks before the Jets chose North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples at No. 16. There were four more trades in the bottom half of the round before it ended with the Giants taking Virginia Tech running back David Wilson at No. 32.

Worried about losing Alabama running back Trent Richardson, Cleveland sacrificed its picks in the fourth, fifth and seventh rounds to move up just one spot to No. 3. Minnesota gladly accepted that windfall to drop to No. 4 and take USC tackle Matt Kalil as planned all along.

"I was very surprised,'' Richardson said. "When they did that, I felt this team really wants me.''

In short order, Jacksonville, Dallas and Philadelphia made moves to leapfrog other teams to get the players they wanted.

The Jaguars gave a fourth-round pick to the Bucs to go up to No. 5 and grab Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon.

The Cowboys were believed to have Alabama safety Mark Barron high on their radar, but they stunned by offering their second-round pick to St. Louis to go to No. 6 for LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. "I was shocked,'' Claiborne said. "They didn't even talk to me.''

Tampa Bay grabbed Barron at No. 7 before No. 8 Miami got back on script by selecting Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill, whom new Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman coached in college.

Philadelphia jumped from No. 15 to No. 12 in a deal with Seattle to grab Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox.

The wheeling and dealing continued later with New England making two deals -- for Cincinnati's No. 21 to take Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones and Denver's No. 25 to grab Alabama linebacker Don't'a Hightower.

No. 29 Baltimore and No. 31 Denver traded out of the first round in deals with Minnesota (Notre Dame defensive back Harrison Smith) and Tampa Bay (Boise State running back Doug Martin), respectively.

NFL teams confirmed Alabama and LSU as the best college teams by selecting six of the first 25 players from those schools. Besides Richardson, Barron, Hightower and Claiborne, LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers went to St. Louis at No. 14 and Alabama defensive back Dre Kirkpatrick was chosen No. 17 by Cincinnati.

Of course, it's the top two quarterbacks who are expected to grab headlines from the start. Luck has the tallest order, stepping in for all-time great Peyton Manning at rebuilding Indianapolis. "Peyton Manning is arguably the greatest ever,'' Luck said. "He was my football hero growing up. You don't really replace a guy like that. Those are huge shoes to fill.''

Baylor's Griffin was asked to size up the NFC East, where he will be matched against two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning, Michael Vick and Tony Romo. "It's a tough division with great quarterback play and great pass rushers,'' Griffin said. With a smile, he added, "I also don't look forward to playing against Morris Claiborne all the time.''

He is wildly popular in Texas, but Griffin said he understands if "some Dallas fans don't like me anymore.'' Showing he, too, has changed his stripes, Griffin displayed Redskins maroon and gold socks with a label saying, "Go catch your dream.''

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