The days leading up to the NFL draft often play out like a Martin Scorsese thriller.
Misinformation is everywhere and twist endings are nearly guaranteed. The only thing we know for sure is that we know very little at all.
Without inside access to the mind of NFL general managers, we’re left to wander through the smokescreens in search of a nugget of truth to grasp onto. Those bits of factual information are few and far between.
That particular scenario is especially prevalent this year given the tremendous amount of uncertainty surrounding this draft. No one is quite sure what will happen when the Kansas City Chiefs go on the clock at 8 p.m. ET.
Still, we wouldn’t be NFL fans if we didn’t at least give it a shot.
Let’s take a look at some of the most recent rumors involving this draft and attempt to separate fact from fiction.
No. 1 Pick
It’s not very often the first selection is still up in the air on Day 1 of the draft. We may not know the first pick this year until Kansas City turns in its card.
Conventional wisdom would suggest an offensive tackle will be the first off the board Thursday evening. The Chiefs traded for Alex Smith this offseason and added plenty of talent through free agency, shoring up positional needs across the board.
Branden Albert may be on his way out of Kansas City (per Greg Rosenthal of NFL.com). If he is in fact traded, there’s little chance Eric Fisher or Luke Joeckel isn’t the pick.
Albert’s fate isn’t going to have an effect on what the Chiefs do with this pick, regardless of rumors to the contrary. The value simply isn’t present at other positions.
What becomes challenging is discerning which offensive tackle will be the first player chosen. Your guess is as good as mine, but popular opinion seems to be swaying in Fisher’s direction.
The top five is absolutely littered with likely scenarios that will affect the entire first round. Philadelphia’s selection is one such pick.
The Eagles have needs to fill on both sides of the ball and any number of players could fill those holes. In addition, a new regime is at the helm in Philadelphia and there’s little indication of what it plans to do with the No. 4 selection.
Former Oregon coach Chip Kelly has long been tied to outside linebacker Dion Jordan (whom he coached last season), but according to La Canfora, talk of another pass-rusher being selected in that spot is beginning to heat up:
LSU’s Barkevious Mingo has incredible speed, athleticism and pass-rushing ability, but it’s hard to imagine a team will be willing to gamble on such a raw prospect in the top five, especially with players like Jordan and Jarvis Jones potentially available.
Smokescreens are all too prevalent in the days and hours leading up to the draft, and this may be just another misinformation campaign being pushed through the pipeline. Even if La Canfora is hearing the chatter, it doesn’t mean there’s any substance to it.
To make matters worse, Philadelphia also needs an offensive tackle and could easily select a defensive tackle like Star Lotulelei as well. There’s very little to go on at this point.
Take the rumors for what you will, but this pick still seems to be wide open.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers made a big move in acquiring Darrelle Revis from the Jets, but trading their 2013 first-round pick may not keep them from moving back into the first round to acquire a player they want.
According to Buccaneers insider Jenna Laine, Tampa Bay has serious interest in doing just that, targeting cornerback D.J. Hayden and tight end Tyler Eifert as possible selections toward the end of the first round.
A source tells me the Bucs are not only interested in drafting Houston cornerback D.J. Hayden, but like Tyler Eifert, who I wrote about earlier, the team will consider trading into the bottom of the first round to get him, depending on who’s available and if there’s a willing trade partner.
Tampa Bay has been especially active this offseason, and a move like this wouldn’t be all that surprising at this point. The Bucs fielded the league’s worst passing defense in 2012. Adding Revis and Dashon Goldson won’t fix all their problems.
Tampa Bay also lacks a vertical threat at the tight end position. In order to get the most out of Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, it needs to find a tight end who can stretch the middle of the field and garner extra attention from opposing defenses.
With tremendous depth in this draft and very few elite talents, teams looking to trade back will be plentiful—and they’ll be looking for trade partners actually willing to move up. Tampa Bay shouldn’t have any problem finding a trade partner. This scenario seems not only plausible, but likely.