The days leading up to the NFL draft are always full of interesting rumors, myths and misinformation. The endless speculation is designed to create panic and uncertainty from decision makers who have specifically targeted prospects to add to their respective rosters.
The NFL's best general managers adept at understanding how to separate fact from fiction. Here are five myths to ignore on draft day:
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The recent speculation about the Jets' reported interest in making a blockbuster move to acquire Richardson should be dismissed as misinformation.
The Jets likely contacted a few teams within the top five to gauge their interest in trading down, which is standard protocol in war rooms across the league in the days leading up to the draft. General managers routinely call around to gauge various teams' interest in working deals and assess preliminary trade requirements. This information allows decision makers to put together a game plan for orchestrating trades on draft day.
In looking at the Jets' reported contact with Richardson, I would suggest this was part of the team's personnel department confirming his contact information and whereabouts on draft day. Teams will not officially submit a prospect's name to Commissioner Roger Goodell until they speak with the player, so scouts are instructed to contact every possible draftee and free agent to verify phone numbers, agent information and health status.
Although this procedure appears silly on the surface, there have been instances where teams have drafted players who have been injured in the days leading up to the draft, and decision makers want to make sure their designated selectees are alive and well on draft day.
For the Jets, the contacting of Richardson is likely a scout simply doing his job to make sure the team's database is accurate and up to date.
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Leslie Frazier's statement regarding the importance of acquiring a "game changer" when selecting within the top five has led to rampant speculation about the Vikings strongly considering Morris Claiborne or Justin Blackmon as possibilities at No. 3, but this is merely a smokescreen designed to generate a trade market for the Vikings' pick.
Vikings general manager Rick Spielman has surveyed the landscape and likely believes the team can still get Kalil at a later selection, while also picking up a few additional picks to help rebuild a depleted roster.
Although this maneuver could result in the Vikings missing out on an elite left tackle prospect capable of filling the team's biggest need (Minnesota surrendered 50 sacks in 2011 after releasing former Pro Bowl tackle Bryant McKinnie prior to training camp), the opportunity to entice a willing trade partner to surrender a few valuable picks is well worth the risk.
In reading the tea leaves surrounding the speculation, it appears the Vikings know the Cleveland Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have their sights set on acquiring a blue-chip prospect at cornerback, wide receiver or running back. Minnesota, in turn, is willing to use its leverage to pry an additional pick from one of the squads by using the fear of missing out on Richardson or Claiborne as a factor, particularly for the Bucs. (If the Vikings trade out of the No. 3 spot for a team wanting Claiborne or Richardson, the Bucs would face the prospect of missing out on a blue-chip player despite being within the top 5).
Ignore the buzz about the Vikings trading out of the No. 3 pick due to their uncertainty about Kalil's status as an elite prospect. Instead, chalk it up to a savvy general manager looking to pilfer an extra pick from a team seeking to nab its designated blue-chipper.
The advanced age (28) of Weeden has been cited as the biggest issue in his scouting profile, but I don't believe it will be a significant problem on draft day.
Teams certainly would like to build around a young franchise quarterback to ensure long-term stability, but the pressure of winning immediately in the NFL prompts team to select players who are capable of making contributions now. Coaches don't have the time nor patience to wait for young players to reach their potential in a few years, particularly quarterbacks, so the pressure is on evaluators to add players who are primed from instant success.
That's why teams shouldn't dismiss Weeden's chances for stardom in the NFL, despite his age. He possesses outstanding physical tools and arm talent, and displays the kind of maturity that could translate into immediate success as a pro. While he failed as a baseball prospect, the life lessons learned from that experience should serve him well as a starting quarterback. He enters the league undaunted by the pressure of performing on the big stage, and that should encourage teams to take a long look at the Oklahoma State star.
Remember, quarterbacks typically enter their prime between 27-29, and routinely play until their late 30s, so there isn't any reason to believe that Weeden couldn't become an 8-to-10-year starter in the right situation.
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Over the past week, reports have started to pop up about several teams ranking Floyd ahead of Blackmon on their respective draft boards.
It is quite possible some teams view Floyd as a better fit within their respective scheme, but I find it hard to believe a vast majority of teams have Floyd as the consensus No. 1 receiver in the draft. I'm not attempting to diminish Floyd's talent or impressive accomplishments as a collegian, but he hasn't put together the résumé on tape that suggests he has better pro potential than Blackmon.
The speculation is likely fueled by a team hoping the Oklahoma State star falls to them outside of the first six picks.
While Floyd's consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and 38 career touchdowns are impressive, Blackmon has been college football's most dominant pass catcher over the past two seasons. He has tallied 1,500-plus receiving yards in back-to-back seasons, while also scoring 38 of his 40 career touchdown in that span. More importantly, he has been indefensible on the field despite facing an assortment of double-coverage schemes from opponents.
Blackmon's combination of ball skills, athleticism and running ability evokes comparisons to Terrell Owens and Anquan Boldin, and that should be enough to place him atop the charts.
Teams have cooled on Tannehill as a possible top-five pick, and he could be headed for a significant fall down the charts if the Miami Dolphins bypass him at No. 8. The other destinations commonly linked to him during much of the pre-draft speculation appear content with their current situations and have given no indication about a possible move into the top 10 to nab a potential franchise quarterback.