The first round of the 2013 NFL draft is almost here, and the rumor mill is now starting to churn at a dangerously high speed. A lot of it is a smokescreen, but some of it is real. Either way, all of it is fun.
Yes, it can be frustrating to keep track of what is legit and what is phony, but you're going to be missing the hell out of all this speculation come mid-May—trust me.
Here, we give you a chance to catch up with the latest key rumors involving all 32 NFL teams as the draft approaches.
It's no secret that the Arizona Cardinals offensive line was a complete disaster in 2012. They gave up a league-high 58 sacks while attempting to pave the way for a running game that averaged a league-low 3.4 yards per carry.
And so Bruce Arians didn't shock anyone when he hinted recently that the O-line would be a priority in the draft. If that's the case, you might expect Arizona to stand pat at No. 7 and take the best offensive lineman available. Five options listed by Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic include Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher, Lane Johnson, Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper.
However, a last-minute trade for Chiefs offensive tackle Branden Albert could change everything. XTRA 910 sports radio host Mike Jurecki tweeted on Monday that he was hearing the Cards had "discussed" Albert with Kansas City.
For over a week now, there's been chatter regarding a potential move up the draft board for the Atlanta Falcons, who Sports Illustrated's Peter King said could be ready to pounce on another first-rounder after a trade.
King suggested on Monday that Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson could be Atlanta's ideal first-round get, but the the price of moving that far up would probably be too costly. Maybe so, but nobody expected the Falcons to trade up 21 spots to grab Julio Jones two years ago, either.
The Baltimore Ravens might possess 12 picks in this year's draft, but they still only have three picks in the top 120, so don't be shocked if they trade down in the first round (in this case, out of the first round) for the sixth time in eight years.
Matt Vensel of The Baltimore Sun also points out that the lackluster quarterback market could make that final pick of the first round a hot commodity. Baltimore's brass is open to making a deal, so that's something to watch for as things progress on Thursday.
If they do stay put, Florida safety Matt Elam has been the most popular name connected to them at the No. 32 spot.
ESPN's Adam Schefter has identified the Buffalo Bills as one of several teams slated to pick in the top 10 that are looking to trade down. However, if that doesn't happen, there's a growing belief, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, that they'll go with Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib in the eighth spot.
NFL Network's Albert Breer is also leaning toward Nassib (h/t Walter Football), but he mentions Matt Barkley as a possibility as well.
Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reports that the San Francisco 49ers are looking to trade up into the 13th or 14th spot in the first round. The No. 14 overall pick just so happens to belong to the Carolina Panthers, thus making a Carolina-San Francisco trade an intriguing possibility.
Everyone seems to think the Panthers will go with Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson in Round 1, but Carolina could be one of those teams eager to jump back to the tail end of the first round. San Fran definitely has the ammunition to make it happen, and these teams made a trade during last year's draft, for what it's worth.
Suddenly, the Chicago Bears are giving the offensive line the attention it deserves. Not only did Chicago invest money in three offensive linemen in free agency, but now there's talk that Chicago could draft another O-lineman with the No. 20 overall pick.
Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that the team put versatile Syracuse offensive lineman Justin Pugh through a workout on campus over the weekend. Pugh, who has the ability to play anywhere on the offensive line, has been projected as a late first-round pick, so the Bears could either reach a little here or attempt to trade back.
The Cincinnati Bengals held a private workout for Florida International safety Johnathan Cyprien on Monday, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. He might be the player that the Bengals cherish the most if Kenny Vaccaro and D.J. Fluker are gone before the No. 21 overall selection.
That was the case in ESPN.com's blogger mock draft on Tuesday, and AFC North beat man Jamison Hensley mentions Cyprien to the Bengals as a possibility as well.
With word emerging that an Andre Smith deal could be close, this would seem to make even more sense.
Throughout this draft season, few teams have been tied to one player as much as the Cleveland Browns to Dee Milliner, but with Milliner's stock possibly sliding and Cleveland being one of the teams interested in moving back (per ESPN's Adam Schefter), the quarterback chatter is increasing.
NFL Network's Albert Breer connected the Browns to West Virginia signal-caller Geno Smith last week, and now Sports Illustrated's Peter King has predicted in his mock draft (h/t Canton Repository) that Cleveland will trade back five spots and take Smith.
So there's a chance that the Brandon Weeden era could be over after just one year.
The Dallas Cowboys have made no secret about the fact they're willing to trade down in the draft. They hold the No. 18 pick, but Dallas has been known to move around a lot in recent drafts and nobody seems interested in moving up this year.
But then comes word from Jeff Sullivan of the team's official website that the 'Boys are not interested in trading down and instead would prefer to trade up or stand pat.
So do whatever you'd like with that information.
While things are obviously fluid, Denver Broncos VP of football operations John Elway has said that he expects the team to remain in the No. 28 spot. And while a lot of people expect them to look for a defensive end to replace Elvis Dumervil in that spot, Mike Klis of The Denver Post figures that the Broncos will want to address the running back and cornerback positions in the first three rounds.
And in a blog post from Tuesday, Klis also wondered if they might be looking for another safety.
Are you starting to pick up on a trend here? The Detroit Lions are one of five teams that ESPN's Adam Schefter says are making calls about moving back in the draft. They're currently scheduled to pick fifth overall, but if all three of the draft's top tackles are gone by that point, the Lions might prefer to select a pass-rusher or a tackle later in Round 1.
But supply and demand says it won't be easy, so Detroit could be forced to go with someone like Dee Milliner at No. 5 or reach for someone who fills another need with that fifth pick.
The Green Bay Packers aren't scheduled to be on the clock until pick No. 26, but don't be surprised if they pick even later than that—if they even pick on Day 1 at all. A source tells the guys at Packer Report that Green Bay is "willing to move down."
They also suggest that San Francisco could be a candidate to make a pick swap with Green Bay. The question might be which picks will be exchanged, because the 49ers hold the second-to-last pick of Round 1 as well as the second pick of Round 2.
Consensus among Houston Texans fans seems to be that a receiver should be drafted in Round 1 to complement Andre Johnson in the short- and long-term future. It's been 10 years since the Texans used a first-rounder on a wideout (Johnson in 2003), and there should be plenty of solid options available at the position when they're on the clock with the 27th pick.
But according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, Texans general manager Rick Smith has said he'll take the highest-rated player on the team's draft board, regardless of position. That could irk Johnson, but he's probably used to it by now.
The Chronicle's Lance Zierlein thinks that they'll go Justin Hunter over DeAndre Hopkins at wide receiver, but he also lists Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert and Florida State offensive tackle Menelik Watson as potential first-round targets.
There hasn't been a ton of talk about what the Indianapolis Colts might do on Thursday night, mainly because they don't pick until No. 24 overall and aren't expected to draft a glamour player at that point. But I think it also has to do with the fact that many suspect that Indy will trade down, or possibly out of the first round altogether.
One team picking very high that has not been mentioned as a possible trade-down candidate is the Jacksonville Jaguars, who Ryan O'Halloran of The Florida Times-Union says are expected to stay put and make a pick in the No. 2 spot.
O'Halloran reports that general manager Dave Caldwell will only assign five of the allotted 10 minutes for trade inquiries on Thursday night, and the belief is that the pick will come down to one of four guys: BYU defensive end Ziggy Ansah, Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan, Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel or Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher.
ESPN's Adam Schefter seems to think it'll come down to Joeckel or Fisher, with the Chiefs taking one of those tackles first.
The feeling for quite some time has been that the Kansas City Chiefs are either going to make Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher the top pick in the draft. ESPN's Adam Schefter reiterated that on Tuesday.
But with Branden Albert still on the roster, it is worth noting that Chiefs general manager John Dorsey called to check on Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd Monday, according to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport.
Could that mean the Chiefs are still trying to trade down? Could it mean Albert might not be dealt? Could it mean Floyd might even be a possible No. 1 overall pick?
Who freakin' knows...
The Miami Dolphins are reportedly yet another team looking to move back and accumulate more draft picks, according to Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald. That would make quite a lot of sense if the 'Phins were forced to part with a second-round pick in a trade for Branden Albert.
NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reported Monday that Miami is willing to meet Albert's contract demands. The hang-up now, according to Rapoport, could be regarding which second-round pick Miami is willing to give to the Chiefs in exchange for the left tackle.
And then there's a conflicting report from ESPN's Chris Mortensen, who simply stated on Monday that the two teams hadn't spoken in weeks.
Oh, and in case you aren't totally confused yet about what might happen with Miami, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported on Tuesday that the Dolphins are one of two teams willing to move up in the draft.
Historically, the New England Patriots have been one of the most unpredictable teams during the draft. Combine their trade-happy nature with the monk-like silence surrounding their plans, and it's impossible to get a feel for what the Pats are going to do on draft day.
If they do stand pat and pick someone in the 29th overall slot, Boise State cornerback Jamar Taylor is a strong candidate. As Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald points out, the Pats have been "all over him" this spring.
I know what you're thinking, but they haven't given us much to chew on of late.
A good workout has Florida State defensive end Tank Carradine's stock rising, and CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora noted on Twitter on Monday that the New Orleans Saints "seem quite intrigued" by him.
Later in the draft, it's possible that the Saints will collect some more picks by trading running back Chris Ivory, who's been shopped to the Jets and others, according to Larry Holder of The New Orleans Times-Picayune.
Rumors regarding the New York Giants have, unsurprisingly, been few and far between. However, a long-held assumption that the Giants will draft a Florida State defensive end is now being challenged by a report that they're a top suitor for a Florida State defensive end.
The first Seminole being referred to is Bjoern Werner; the second is Tank Carradine. Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net reports that the G-men, Dolphins and Vikings are Carradine's top suitors right now.
The New York Jets have two picks in the top half of the first round after trading Darrelle Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the No. 13 overall selection. But there's a chance that New York unloads one or both of those picks in order to accumulate more selections in what is considered to be a very deep draft.
ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini reports that the Jets are interested in trading down in order to do exactly that. Cimini points out that doing so would be a "sound strategy," but it won't be easy because it seems like a lot of teams are hungry to do the same thing.
DraftInsider.net's Tony Pauline reports that the Vikings are one of the top three suitors for Florida State defensive end Tank Carradine, which makes some sense when you consider their familiarity with him, as well as Adrian Peterson's history with him.
And naturally, with the Vikings holding two first-round picks, Ben Goessling of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that a trade is a possibility.
If by any chance ESPN's Adam Schefter is wrong and either Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher land in Oakland's lap in the No. 3 spot, Tony Pauline from DraftInsider.net has heard that the Raiders might have a trade in place to move down.
That would make a lot of sense. But if Joeckel and Fisher wind up being drafted first and second overall, Pauline expects the Raiders to stick to the basics this time around.
On Monday, Pauline wrote:
One source familiar with the situation told me expect the Raiders to select the "surest of the sure" with the third pick. Right now it looks like the pick will be one of the offensive tackles, if available, or Shariff Floyd of Florida. Other sources mentioned Star Lotulelei of Utah is also in the mix.
The Philadelphia Eagles have been linked to a helluva lot of prospects in the No. 4 spot, but one name that hadn't come up until Tuesday was Barkevious Mingo, the pass-rusher out of LSU. That comes from Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, who tweeted that he's been hearing Mingo's name more than Dion Jordan's, even though Jordan is regarded by many as the better edge-rusher. Oh, and he also played for Chip Kelly at Oregon.
Of course, a conflicting report comes from NFL Network's Albert Breer, who tweeted just minutes later on Tuesday that the Eagles are down to four guys: Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher, Jordan and Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei.
The Eagles have also been talked about as a team that might want to trade out of the No. 4 spot. It's possible that they only go with Mingo if they trade down, but Breer reports that they won't want to slide too far.
ESPN's Sal Paolantonio also reports (h/t Walter Football) that it's possible they drop down into the No. 7-12 range if the top two offensive tackles are gone, settling instead for West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin.
Was there ever any doubt this would be the longest slide of the batch?
The Pittsburgh Steelers haven't drafted a quarterback since taking Dennis Dixon in the fifth round in 2008, but that could change in 2013. Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that general manager Kevin Colbert has said the team is open to the possibility of adding another quarterback in this year's draft.
One name Dulac mentions is Tyler Bray, who is only 21 and is considered to be a project out of Tennessee. Someone like that could eventually emerge as a successor for Ben Roethlisberger, who is now 31 years old.
The St. Louis Rams hold two first-round picks, which means double the rumors. The name that has recently come up more than all others is DeAndre Hopkins, an NFL-ready wide receiver out of Clemson. The Rams have sent staff to visit Hopkins twice in the last week, according to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
However, the Rams could have a tough decision to make if Hopkins and Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro are both on the board when they pick at No. 16. It's unlikely that either of them make it to the No. 22 spot, and Thomas thinks that it would be hard for St. Louis to pass on Vaccaro with that first pick.
Are the San Diego Chargers desperate enough for an offensive tackle to reach for the fourth-best one in the draft with the 11th pick? The way things are shaping up at that position, it's possible.
In fact, Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net isn't even convinced Alabama tackle D.J. Fluker will be on the board when San Diego picks in the No. 11 spot. That is because he's hearing that both the Chargers and Titans are "considering" the junior, and the Titans pick ahead of San Diego.
The San Francisco 49ers could be one of few teams actually interested in listening to those who are looking to trade down in Round 1. The Niners have a ridiculous 13 picks, which means they'll have the ability to jump wherever they want on the draft board. And Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports talked to one general manager who believes San Fran is looking to move up to the 13th or 14th overall pick.
That would be quite the jump from the No. 31 spot. Could that mean they're in play for Sheldon Richardson?
The Seattle Seahawks spent their top pick to get Percy Harvin, which means they won't be on the clock until late in the second round. When that finally happens, there's a chance they will look for a linebacker to replace Leroy Hill on the weak side.
John Boyle from The Everett Herald made that suggestion on Monday, just before Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net reported that the Seahawks are one of four teams that have displayed "heavy interest" in Colorado tight end Nick Kasa. Kasa would likely be a mid-round pick, so it's possible that both Boyle and Pauline are correct.
Despite the fact they gave up their first-round pick in order to acquire Darrelle Revis from the New York Jets, ESPN.com's Tim Kavanagh believes the Tampa Bay Buccaneers might still look for a cornerback early in the draft.
And then there's the possibility that the Bucs rejoin Round 1. Apparently, Stephen Holder of the Tampa Bay Times told 98.7 The Fan in Tampa that the team will "try like hell" to do exactly that.
As the offensive tackles continue to see their stocks rise in the days leading up to this draft, it's possible that a fourth tackle could move into the top 10. Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net reports that the Titans are considering Alabama's D.J. Fluker with the No. 10 overall pick.
However, Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean believes that guard, defensive end, cornerback, defensive tackle, safety and linebacker are more urgent positions of need for the Titans, and it's hard to imagine them passing on guys like Dion Jordan, Barkevious Mingo, Chance Warmack, Jonathan Cooper, Dee Milliner, Sharrif Floyd and Star Lotulelei. At least one of those prospects will be on the board when they pick, and maybe even Oklahoma's Lane Johnson.
It does appear, though, that Tennessee will go with the best player available.
Based on the number of teams reportedly looking to trade down and the number of players receiving second- and third-round grades, it seems like the Redskins picked a good year to not have a first-round pick.
When they're on the clock midway through the second round, the fans will certainly be expecting to see a defensive back fly off the board to help one of the league's worst secondaries. The rumors have all surrounded cornerbacks and safeties, but CSN Washington's Rich Tandler thinks they can wait to take a safety.