We’re just over 24 hours away from the start of the 2012 NFL Draft, a unique time in the news cycle of a draft. Now is the time when some of the biggest stories of the next week emerge. We find out which teams are talking trade (it was about this time last year that we learned of the Atlanta Falcons’ desire to trade a bounty of valuable picks to move up and select wide receiver Julio Jones) and which players teams really like.
It’s also a time filled with misinformation, or “smokescreens.” Teams don’t want their opponents to know which players they favor, so they intentionally leak fake information to the press in an effort to disguise their real intentions. Any football writer claiming to know what a team will definitely do on draft day is either being played by a team or is willingly taking part in the ruse.
So, just what do we know in advance of this year’s draft?
We know that the Indianapolis Colts will select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the first overall pick. New Colts general manager Ryan Grigson has publicly stated that that will be the case. Since the Colts have the top pick, they are permitted to negotiate a contract with Luck before the draft even begins. Expect the Colts to hand in their draft card and make the pick official within seconds of the start of the draft.
We know that the Washington Redskins will use the second overall pick to grab Baylor quarterback, and Heisman winner, Robert Griffin III. The Redskins traded their first- and second-round picks this year, as well as their first-round picks in 2013 and 2014, to move up for Griffin. They had him in for several pre-draft visits and have already begun teaching him their offense.
We know that the Minnesota Vikings are considering several different options at No. 3 overall. They could use a left tackle and there’s a very good one available, USC’s Matt Kalil. They could also use some help with their pass defense and LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne would make sense. The Vikings could also decide to trade down to accumulate more picks. One possible partner is the St. Louis Rams, who hold the No. 6 pick and are said to be interested in trading ahead of the Cleveland Browns (No. 4) to select running back Trent Richardson. Richardson has been called the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson and he is said to be at the top of several teams’ draft boards.
One such team that reportedly loves Richardson is the New York Jets. They made a splash by trading for Tim Tebow last month and it appears the team isn’t done making big moves. The Jets are rumored to be interested in trading up from their No. 16 slot to draft Richardson. The issue there is the incredible cost of such a move–the Jets would have to give up at least two first round picks and likely some seconds or thirds, too. Don’t expect this trade to actually happen.
Some of the names said to be rising up teams’ draft boards include Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly and Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. Both were considered likely to be drafted in the middle of the first round only a week or so ago, but the “experts” are now saying that both could be taken as high as picks five to ten.