While the path to the NFL draft is technically shrouded in smokescreen season right about now, more often than not even the most outlandish rumors have seemed to come true lately. Think, Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown trades as just a small (but significant) heaping of examples.
As a result, no organization is happier than the team throwing out smokescreens right now in an effort to manipulate the process in their favor. Only hindsight will reveal these mystery teams, of course, but lying season has received a boost with how even the outrageous items turned out to be true.
With the process continuing into another week of rumblings, these are the biggest talking points—for now.
Jerry Tillery Visiting Tennessee
Given the defensive-minded nature of the class, it can be easy to lose sight of a prospect like Notre Dame's Jerry Tillery.
But according to a new report from NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the Tennessee Titans aren't one of those to forget:
Tillery is interesting because he is one of the draft's bigger unknowns. It is hard for a defensive lineman to stand out in this class with heavyweights like Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams, Ed Oliver and Jeffery Simmons, to name a few, dominating the news cycle.
Yet, Tillery is a 6'6", 295-pound tackle who fought through testing at the combine despite a torn labrum, which is something teams might knock him for during the draft. But his frame, explosiveness and ability to play in multiple schemes are massive counterweights.
That a team like the Titans picking 19th have a reported interest is a big deal for Tillery and the draft as a whole. For the latter, it suggests even a quiet name like Tillery could come off the board and push quality players on the offensive side of the ball even further down the board.
In the grand scheme of draft dominoes every spot matters, and this is one small item that plays into the bigger event.
Jonah Williams on the Rise?
It seems Jonah Williams is this year's up-and-down lineman who ends up coming off the board higher than most expect.
A year ago, a similar fate unfolded during the process for Mike McGlinchey, who was about as up and down as it gets in the court of public opinion before coming off the board ninth overall to the San Francisco 49ers.
This year it might be Williams based on comments by NFL Network's Mike Garafolo:
Williams has quietly been one of the more polarizing prospects in the class throughout the process. Dominant film at Alabama is about as good as it gets for an NFL hopeful. But 33⅝" arm-length measurement at the combine turned some heads and suggested Williams might be better at one of the interior line positions.
Naturally, guards and centers don't come off the board as high as offensive linemen on the edges. Williams ending up as an elite player on the inside wouldn't be such a bad thing for his career—but it could damage his draft-day stock and create a slide.
But as always, there is a chance the current perception is way off base with what the NFL thinks. It takes just one team to care little about the arm-length measurement and buy into Williams' other skills, perhaps keeping him alive in the top-10 conversation.
Josh Allen and Noah Fant in the Big Apple
The New York Jets reportedly have an eye on two of the draft's bigger names.
According to Rapoport, the Jets had Iowa tight end Noah Fant and Kentucky edge defender Josh Allen in on visits.
Allen would presumably be a candidate for the Jets if they stick at No. 3 in the draft. He's a 6'5", 262-pound pass-rusher who has shown the ability to not only get after quarterbacks, but drop back into coverage and display some versatility.
Testing reinforced some of the numbers Allen put up in the SEC, which were also impressive:
The Jets wouldn't mind beefing up the pass rush after two players tied for the team lead in sacks last year at a paltry seven apiece. Allen would change the complexion of the entire unit for new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
But Fant as a consolation prize, if the Jets decide to trade out of the spot, is a superb idea too given how important it is to help along young quarterback Sam Darnold.
Fant checks in at 6'4" and 249 pounds and totaled 19 touchdowns over his past two seasons, so the playmaking ability on film was there and the testing eventually backed it up. He's not a superb blocker, but the Jets aren't going to complain about getting a big-play threat who can grow alongside Darnold after winning just four games last year while only one player caught more than four touchdowns.
The Jets really can't go wrong either way if they pick one of these prospects—and bringing in both keeps other teams in the draft on their toes, too.