Any other year, the NFL draft would be in full swing. The excitement, the rookie green room anxiety and the over-analysis all have been shoved back.
With the draft still a week away, all we have now is indecision, which begets rumors, then analysis of the heresay. Most news now is of the red herring variety.
“The longer you stir the stew, the longer you have a tendency to screw it up,” said Jon Gruden, the ESPN analyst and former NFL coach. “Too many chefs spoil the stew.
“This draft needs to take place quickly,” Gruden said. “We’ve had first, second and third analysis done on just about every factor from doctors to psychiatrists … I think everybody is ready to draft them.”
Surely by the time the draft convenes next Thursday at New York’s iconic Radio City Music Hall, the Houston Texans will have tipped their hand as to whom they’ll take at No. 1.
Chances are it’ll be South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Or maybe the Texans will pull a surprise and select Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack, the small-town Florida kid who was a two-star recruit in high school. Mack had two scholarship offers, from Buffalo and Liberty, the private Christian school founded by televangelist Jerry Falwell.
Fans of high school football in the state of Texas are hoping Houston takes Johnny Manziel. The quarterback who won the 2012 Heisman Trophy for Texas A&M wants the Texans to draft him. Or, it could be the Dallas Cowboys, according to the latest buzz generated by scout whispers earlier in the week.
What seems plausible, as of this week, is that Manziel lands at Cleveland with the No. 4 pick. New head coach Mike Pettine and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan — a former wide receiver at Texas — are trying to figure out whether the dynamic but undersized Manziel is worth taking that high. Cleveland has two first-round choices, also picking at No. 26.
The Browns also could opt for Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins and draft a quarterback later in the first round. Or perhaps they’ll shop the picks.
Todd McShay, the ESPN analyst, said Wednesday he can see two scenarios developing with Manziel — he’ll either go to the Browns or fall out of the top 10.
McShay believes the next team that could be interested in the quarterback is St. Louis, which has two first-round selections, at No. 2 and No. 13. He believes the Minnesota Vikings, at No. 8, have decided to select Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles. McShay doesn’t buy that other quarterback-needy teams such as Oakland (5th pick) or Tampa Bay (7th) will bite on Manziel or Bortles.
With starter Sam Bradford, the Rams presumably won’t draft a quarterback at No. 2. But 13th sounds plausible.
St. Louis is sending general manager Les Snead and head coach Jeff Fisher to College Station on Friday for private workouts with Manziel and two teammates, receiver Mike Evans and offensive tackle Jake Matthews. Snead and Fisher will first stop in Alabama to check out Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron, who is starting to generate some first-round chatter.
If Manziel tumbles, teams with picks later in the first round may start itching to trade up. Suddenly, the Rams’ 13th pick looks like an attractive commodity.
“It’s going to make for a very unbelievable scene,” McShay said. “But there’s a decent likelihood (Manziel) goes at four.”
The Aggies also could be the most talked about college team in the first round, since three A&M players could go in the top 10. The Aggies have had only three first rounders once before — in 1994.
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