Early in the week, reports surfaced that USC's Matt Barkley and Syracuse's Ryan Nassib could go as high as No. 8 overall because the Buffalo Bills didn't want to surrender a 2014 first-round pick to trade back in the draft for a quarterback.
As it turns out, the Bills manufactured the 2013 NFL Draft's most effective smokescreen, ignoring Nassib and Barkley while picking up Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel at No. 16 overall Thursday night.
After three rounds, the two big-name quarterbacks top the list of players surprisingly still on the board heading into the start of the fourth round Saturday. As NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock explained, quarterbacks finally are being drafted at their true value after being artificially elevated by desperate teams in recent years.
Credit NFL Films analyst Greg Cosell for predicting Barkley's fall. Questioning the quarterback's arm strength, Cosell graded Barkley as a fourth-round talent masquerading as a first- or second-round pick in mock drafts.
Although Nassib was ranked by Cosell, ESPN's Jon Gruden and the National Football Post's Russ Lande as the draft's top quarterback, opinions were all over the map on his NFL outlook. Some teams told ESPN's Adam Schefter that Nassib was given no higher than a fourth-round grade.
Quarterback wasn't the only high-profile position to see top players take a nosedive. South Carolina power back Marcus Lattimore, who drew comparisons to Earl Campbell and Herschel Walker before twice shredding his knee, failed to entice a team to draft him in the third round. UCLA's Johnathan Franklin, reported to be gaining traction as the top running back in the draft, still is available, too.
Williams and Franklin are the two highest-rated players remaining on the draft board of NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah. While both should hear their names called shortly after the draft resumes on Saturday, it's plausible Nassib and Barkley could fall behind another quarterback, such as Tennessee's strong-armed Tyler Bray.
Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.