NEW YORK -- With the 2013 NFL Draft just one day away, the buzz is loud and prevalent. What's going on? Everything. Teams want to trade back, teams want to trade up, scouts are double-checking medicals and executives are picking apart prospects they've been analyzing for years. It's madness.
Here are five quick things we're hearing leading up to Thursday night:
1) Everyone wants to move: Could we be looking at an unprecedented number of moves in the top 10? Maybe. Maybe not. But the way everyone is talking, it seems like we're headed that way. Among the teams I hear willing to move back are the Oakland Raiders (holding the No. 3 pick), Philadelphia Eagles (4), Cleveland Browns (6) ... and even the Kansas City Chiefs at No. 1, for the right deal. Why else would Chiefs GM John Dorsey call Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd on Monday -- just to check his birthdate? The most likely team to move back, I hear, is Oakland. The Raiders have made no secret of their desire to slide back. And even if they really want Floyd -- like everyone thinks they do -- they still would have a good chance at snagging him at No. 5 or 7. And with the way the Raiders must rebuild, they need more picks.
2) Tackle-palooza: Don't be surprised if the draft's top two tackles come off the board with the first two selections on Thursday night. Dorsey is being coy in conversations when the subject of his first pick comes up, saying things like, "If we take one of the two tackles ..." The best bet is either Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher goes first. And with Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan telling the Florida Times-Union that it's not about a sexy pick, that matches the thought process that the Jags will take a bookend tackle at No. 2. What does that mean? There will only be one elite left tackle left: Oklahoma's Lane Johnson. That sets up a feeding frenzy between two teams that set their eyes on taking one: the Arizona Cardinals (picking seventh) and San Diego Chargers (11th). How high would either need to jump to grab Johnson? In front of the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 4? Or could either trade with Philly?
3) Under-the-radar studs: There have been prospects we've picked apart for months; you know the names: Geno Smith, Manti Te'o, Dee Milliner, etc. Watch for a few players we rarely hear about possibly being the impetus for a trade. Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert is such a clean prospect that he had no visits and warrants almost no discussion. Yet when executives talk about why the Atlanta Falcons want to move up from No. 30, Eifert's name is always in the mix. Is he their next Tony Gonzalez? Safety Kenny Vaccaro is the consensus top safety, with several scouts telling me he's their only safety with a first-round grade. Could a team move up to grab him? Same story with receiver Tavon Austin, who is head and shoulders above his counterparts at wideout. GMs point to a huge divide between the top spot and the second spot at several positions, which could lead to more trades than we typically see.
4) Guard value skyrocketing?: It's crazy to think an offensive guard could be drafted in the top 10. When you consider how positions are valued in the league, guard is way down the list. But don't be surprised if two of them come off the board before the guard-hungry Tennessee Titans pick at 10. If Cardinals stay put at No. 7 and don't get their tackle, they could grab either Jonathan Cooper or Chance Warmack. If the Buffalo Bills believe they can get Ryan Nassib in the second round, they could pick a guard to replace Andy Levitre. If the New York Jets plan to wait on Austin for their 13th pick, they could go guard at No. 9. Both Cooper and Warmack are great prospects with excellent futures. And in today's game, given how quickly quarterbacks get the ball out, solidifying the pocket up the middle might be as important as doing so on the edges. As Warmack told "NFL AM," "You see guards now, like me and Jonathan Cooper, establishing the line of scrimmage. That's a hard thing to do. You can't really push a 3-technique out the box like that -- it's a hard thing to do. I feel like the league is starting to change a little bit."
5) Scouts have fallen in love with ... : At this point, every scout can find a flaw in every prospect. When I read in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that one scout wondered about Warmack's excessive sweating, I knew that time was upon us. But scouts are having a difficult time finding flaws in two prospects: Barkevious Mingo and D.J. Hayden. One personnel guru gushed to me about Mingo: "He's just so clean. He looks like a racehorse, and when you meet him, you fall in love with him." Some wish he made more plays last season at LSU, but scouts counter that by saying he was routinely double-teamed, allowing teammate Sam Montgomery to produce against one-on-one blocking. And Mingo would be fun for a team that wants to get creative. You can stand him up and have him rush that way, with several people telling me they think Mingo's more natural as a linebacker. As for Hayden, once his health became less of an issue (following a freak incident last November), everyone began looking at his tape. One scout started giggling when I asked about Hayden: Fluid, athletic, he makes plays -- the praise was endless. I could see Hayden as the second corner off the board (after Milliner).