With so much smoke billowing from the draft rumor mills, what can we trust as the information rolls in prior to the start of Round 1 on Thursday in Chicago? Here are 10 things to believe amid so much chatter.
1. Leonard Williams goes second to the Titans: Let's get real for a second. While Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota play the most important position in football, those guys are both graded lower than Williams by just about every team that I've heard from. If the Titans are bluffing regarding their interest in Mariota, Williams is truly the best player available with the second overall pick.
2. The trade-up spot for Marcus Mariota is more likely to be No. 5 than No. 2: If the Titans aren't in love with Mariota and fail to find a trade partner, Mariota could fall to the fifth pick, where Washington might find suitors including Cleveland, Philadelphia and even New Orleans.
3. Todd Gurley goes early: So is Gurley's draft stock truly rising, or is the talk of his ascending stock just more draft smoke? It is hard to tell at this juncture, but Gurley has just about every tool you want from a workhorse runner and it appears as though ACL injuries simply don't produce the fear they once did with NFL teams. Gurley and Melvin Gordon are head and shoulders above the rest of the running back prospects and teams looking for a first-round rusher might decide that this "deep running back class" isn't as appealing as taking the best back on the board early on.
4. Randy Gregory and Shane Ray will go outside of the first round: Both of these players are legitimate top-10 talents in this draft, but there might be too much negative buzz around them to stay inside the first round. Ray was cited for marijuana possession earlier this week and Gregory failed a drug test at the NFL Scouting Combine. As one executive told me: "If you are the GM who takes Ray or Gregory despite their current issues, then he had better not bust on them or you can pack your bags because the fans and media will never let you live that down."
5. Jake Fisher will be drafted in the first round: For much of the draft process, Fisher, an offensive tackle from Oregon, has been left out of first-round mock drafts. However, as the draft gets closer, more and more organizations are beginning to feel like Fisher is safer than some of the alternative selections that could be available after guys like Brandon Scherff, Andrus Peat and D.J. Humphries are gone.
6. Six wide receivers will be picked in the first round: We've known that Kevin White and Amari Cooper are the position's headliners for quite a while now, and DeVante Parker is a close third, but Breshad Perriman's size and speed will gain him access into the first round as well. Nelson Agholor, Phillip Dorsett and Jaelen Strong all have enough buzz around them to expect that at least two of the three will go in Round 1.
7. Look out for a run on cornerbacks: If 2014 produced a banner crop of wide receivers and this year's draft is expected to be loaded with receivers in the first round, then why wouldn't the players who cover them go early as well? Trae Waynes and Kevin Johnson could both go inside the first half of the first round, which might create an itchy trigger finger for teams looking at Marcus Peters and Jalen Collins as well.
8. Bryce Petty is getting drafted earlier than we all think: We hear plenty of talk about how lacking this quarterback class is, and NFL teams have been saying the same thing behind the scenes. However, as the draft inches closer, I'm starting to hear more and more whispers about teams talking themselves into considering Petty earlier than their initial grades might have merited. Petty has size, decent athleticism and a good arm and let's face it -- teams just can't quit quarterbacks.
9. The top three centers could come from the tackle class: The conversation in offensive line circles around the league was that finding a guard to play center was going to be the next trend as teams look for more power and mass to battle against 3-4 nose tackles. Now, with teams going to speedy sub-packages, it appears as though tackles with a background in pass protection are the next big thing. Cameron Erving, Mitch Morse and Ali Marpet all played tackle (with Erving moving to center during the 2014 season). All three could end up being taken ahead of the natural centers in this class and converted to that position.
10. The "little guys" make a move: Aaron Donald proved last season that size matters, but strength, leverage, talent and heart matter even more. Look for undersized Clemson nose tackle Grady Jarrett and Kansas State wide receiver Tyler Lockett to buck the traditional size concerns and go even earlier than current projections, as teams love their play demeanor and consistency of performance on the field.