Here we are a little more than 24 hours from the National Football League’s three-day late April extravaganza, better known as the 2012 College Player Draft. And what have we learned as we head toward the finish line?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
The rumor mill is spinning so furiously, a new one seems to pop out every hour. And the closer we get to tomorrow night at 8, those rumors will be air born by the minute.
And yet no one knows exactly what’s going to go down. No matter what you hear or read, no one knows.
They can say they heard this and that. They can say with absolutely certainty that this will happen and this won’t. They can spew rumors until their vocal chords give out.
But they don’t really know. Not even those who occupy the important seats in the war rooms around the league know right now what’s going to happen. They can guess, but all that does is make time pass slowly.
Just when it looked as though the Browns were a lock to draft fourth in the opening round, word spread like a virus that the St. Louis Rams, in the sixth hole tomorrow night, would leapfrog the Browns and deal with Minnesota at No.3.
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman (Chris’ brother) has shouted to the world that he’s more than willing to deal his pick. He doesn’t want to move down too far, of course, so that makes St. Louis the ideal trading partner.
The Rams, if the rumors are to be believed, covet Alabama running back Trent Richardson. Yep, the same Richardson just about all the draft experts predict will wear the Seal Brown and Orange next season.
Adding to the circus atmosphere that seems to permeate the draft at this time on an annual basis is the notion that Tampa Bay, at No. 5, would love to beat the Rams to Minnesota in an effort to get Richardson.
All that begets more rumors that make even less sense.
Why would the Rams, who need a wide receiver (Justin Blackmon) in the worst way for quarterback Sam Bradford, even think of talking with the Vikings? They can stay put at No. 6 and get their man.
Well, say the rumors, the Rams would like to get rid of running back Steven Jackson and put some fresh blood behind Bradford. Problem is Jackson, one of the very good running backs in the NFL, has two years remaining on his contract. Unless the Rams find a buyer for Jackson, it makes no sense to draft Richardson.
The Buccaneers, on the other hand, could use a running back like Richardson, but they have little to offer the Vikings in the way of a trade.
Meanwhile in Cleveland, panic has set in among Browns Nation. Just when it looked as though the club was finally going to get that elite running back, one who has a chance to become the face of the franchise, the Rams and Bucs rumors chill that possibility.
And the game of what if begins all over again.
What if either club is successful with the Vikings, then what? Richardson is gone and all that’s left are Blackmon, cornerback Mo Claiborne and offensive tackle Matt Kalil. Not too bad on the surface, but it’s not Richardson.
But what if the Browns see what’s gong on, become pro active and make the deal with Minnesota and grabs Richardson? Possible? You bet. Probable? Uh . . . no.
Why not? Because I think the St. Louis and Tampa Bay rumors are just that . . . rumors. And nothing will come of them. The louder they become, the less I believe them.
One more what if.
What if I’m wrong? What if some other team (New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles) comes from nowhere and convinces the Vikings to move down into the middle of round one and snags Richardson?
That’s no so bad, either. While I like Richardson a lot and would love to see the Browns get him, I wouldn’t be unhappy with Kalil at offensive right tackle or Blackmon teaming up with Greg Little at wide receiver.
I would, however, have a problem with Claiborne. Yes, he’s probably the best defensive player on the board. And yes, he’d give the Browns a nice 1-2 punch at cornerback with Joe Haden.
But the Browns’ defense is the club’s strong suit. They need help on offense. Desperately.
Taking Claiborne would be a wasted pick. Although I prefer the stud running back, I wouldn’t be disappointed with the stud offensive tackle or wide receiver.
Hopefully, Richardson’s name is still on the board when the Browns are placed on the clock. If so, the Browns can’t write his name on the card quickly enough.