As the NFL draft edges closer, picking through all of the smoke screens, rumored trades and speculation to uncover the intentions of each team grows very difficult. Football may be a game, but the NFL offseason is chess being played at the highest level.
Still, NFL teams aren't always as sly as they would like to be, and sometimes a careful reading of the tea leaves can make their motives known.
With that in mind, let's break down some of the latest buzz that could have major implications on the top of the draft, or buzz that may simply be a stream of misinformation. It's time to go all CIA on this year's draft.
Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
If you actually believe the Kansas City Chiefs are interested in drafting Smith, I have a few vacuums for sale I think you'll really love.
The Chiefs are sparing no expense in the hope of convincing NFL teams they are interested in Smith, however, bringing him in for a workout on Monday. From ESPN:
Former West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, projected by many to be the first quarterback selected in April's NFL draft, is scheduled to visit the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday.
It's the first stop on his "World Tour," as he labeled it in an interview with USA Today Sports last week. He said he'll "be going Monday to Friday, working out for different teams."
Smith is scheduled to arrive in Kansas City later Monday. He will spend extensive time with the Chiefs' staff Tuesday.
It's hard to believe the Chiefs would draft Smith after trading for Alex Smith this offseason. More likely, the Chiefs are trying to convince teams they are interested in selecting him to drum up interest in a potential trade.
Kansas City would likely love the opportunity to trade out of the No. 1 pick and accumulate selections in a year when there isn't a clear top player available. The problem is, there isn't really a market for a trade since most teams know the Chiefs don't need a quarterback.
The Chiefs could simply be doing their due diligence, but this feels like a smoke screen to me. Now, about these vacuums I'm offering...
Will Any Quarterbacks Be Taken in the Top 10?
With Kevin Kolb signing with the Buffalo Bills, Matt Flynn going to the Oakland Raiders in a trade and the Arizona Cardinals likely to soon land Carson Palmer, Marc Sessler of NFL.com believes those teams will avoid selecting a quarterback with their first-round picks:
It didn't take long to find out what this year's quarterback-needy teams really feel about this year's passing prospects.
One by one, the Buffalo Bills, Oakland Raiders and Arizona Cardinals have shown their hands, pushing for veteran help under center—almost desperately—as next month's NFL Draft approaches.
He adds, "The Bills, Raiders and Cardinals have telegraphed—loud and clear—what NFL teams think of this draft class at the quarterback position."
Sessler's main point is that if each team is willing to pay a price for quarterbacks like Kolb, Flynn or Palmer, there is no way those teams feel confident selecting a quarterback in the first round. It's a logical enough conclusion, and gels with the popular notion that there really aren't any elite quarterbacks in this draft class.
Still, those three teams could simply be adding insurance in the event they don't get the quarterback they covet with their first-round pick. If the Raiders are concerned that the Jacksonville Jaguars will take Smith, for instance, adding Flynn makes all the more sense.
Still, I think Sessler is probably right—these teams know there are much better values in the top 10 than at quarterback, and this draft is actually pretty deep at the position if you are willing to address it in the second round or later.
Rather than trade up to ensure they get a player like Smith, the Bills, Cardinals and Raiders all are likely to wait after the first round to nab a young quarterback.
Could a Darrelle Revis Trade Shake Up the Draft?
To a point, yes. The most likely team to cut a deal with the New York Jets for the superstar is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, writes Chris Wesseling of NFL.com:
The Darrelle Revis trade talks have been in a holding pattern while the New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the cornerback engage in a good, old-fashioned Mexican standoff. No one wants to be the first to shoot in fear of losing leverage.
The Tampa Tribune suggests the Revis talks will be rekindled closer to the draft, perhaps even when the Buccaneers are on the clock.
The Bucs are reluctant to part with the 13th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, in large part because they don't know yet if a player high on their board will fall to that spot.
It would be very intriguing to see what the Jets would do if they held the No. 9 and 13 picks in the first round. While they would likely stay put since there aren't many elite prospects in this draft, the luxury of those picks could be enough for the Jets to trade up and land a player they truly covet.
A Revis trade could yet mix things up in a big way come the NFL draft. Stay tuned.