The time for subterfuge is over. The 2014 NFL draft is nearly upon us.
For the past few months, football fans have had to read constant sniping from unnamed scouts and coaches about how Player X isn't actually all that good because of vague, baseless character concerns.
That's almost always done in order for a team to try to get the player that it wants to fall to it in the draft.
But now, the time for all of that has passed.
When: Thursday, May 8, at 8 p.m.
Where: Radio City Music Hall, New York City
Watch: ESPN and NFL Network
Rather than focusing on the negative, Thursday's draft promises to be a night of hope for fans everywhere. This is an extremely deep class, so even those teams drafting toward the end of the first round are bound to find impact players.
Much of the focus, though, has been on the top of the first round. Considering how nobody seems to know anything that will happen, an endless shuffle of top stars has been discussed with any number of teams.
Below are the latest updates on some of the teams in the top five.
Owner Bob McNair Remains Vague with Houston Texans' Plans
At this point, good luck trying to predict what the Houston Texans will do with the first overall pick. Maybe they'll take Jadeveon Clowney. Maybe they'll go with a quarterback. Maybe Matt Schaub will accidentally show up and give the pick away—because you know, he threw a lot of interceptions last year.
Team owner Bob McNair talked to KRIV Fox 26 in Houston and said that the team has yet to finalize its draft plan:
Really at this point we don't know and we really won't know until right up at the time we have to make a decision because people are talking to us about the possibility of trading down and it's a question of what people offer, whether their offer is such that it's worthwhile to trade down.
McNair also intimated that Clowney isn't the slam-dunk pick that some may be expecting:
You take a guy like Clowney. He’s obviously the best player in the draft, but he's a defensive end. He's not a quarterback. If he's a quarterback and the best player it's easy, but that's not the case. So can that defensive player have a greater impact on the success of your team than one of these quarterbacks? It's not a sure thing that he is.
Some of this is undoubtedly strategic as the Texans want to open every sort of trade door possible. However, you do get a sense that whatever Houston does, it's a decision that will go right down to the wire.
Johnny Manziel Won't Last Past Fourth
ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported that the Cleveland Browns would take Johnny Manziel if he falls to fourth overall:
THIS JUST IN: Chris Mortensen reports he expects Browns to draft QB Johnny Manziel at No. 4 if he's still there. pic.twitter.com/iQNNfNDg2H— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) May 5, 2014
However, Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer clarified what Mortensen had to say:
You'd have to believe that if Manziel is available, the Browns will pounce. They haven't had a franchise quarterback since returning to the league in 1999, and while Johnny Football undoubtedly has flaws, he'd be better than anybody Cleveland has previously drafted.
And unless the Texans take Manziel, either he or Greg Robinson should be there for the Browns at No. 4.
With two picks in the first round and a new head coach in Mike Pettine, Cleveland is in a great position for the future.
Then again, maybe this is only one in a number of false dawns for the organization.
Who Knows What the St. Louis Rams Are Doing?
With both the No. 2 and No. 13 picks in the first round, the St. Louis Rams are sitting pretty. They can either draft two top prospects to help in their rebuilding plan, or they can package the picks together to draft the one guy they really love.
One thing that fans wouldn't have expected to hear is that the team might consider trading quarterback Sam Bradford. Speaking to CBS Sports 920 in St. Louis, CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora said that the Rams have bounced around the idea of moving the QB to the Minnesota Vikings, via SI.com's Bryan Rose.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the Bradford trade rumors are off base:
Extremely reliable sources tell P-D the Rams are not shopping Bradford.— Jim Thomas (@jthom1) May 5, 2014
The Rams have, however, shown some interest in drafting Manziel, per Ryan Van Bibber of SB Nation:
FWIW, was told by a reliable source that Rams interest in Manziel is legit, being driven by Fisher. Still doesn't mean they'll pick him— ryan van bibber (@justRVB) May 5, 2014
Either way, St. Louis will likely be one of the most active teams come draft time.