You're John Dorsey. You are the general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs, by all accounts a bright guy, and you are searching for any competitive advantage you can get.
You decide on a smokescreen. Here is how you deploy this noxious mix of wistful gazes at Geno Smith and the sweet, hickory scent of a potential draft day trade.
- You trade multiple picks to make Alex Smith your starting quarterback
- You lure Chase Daniel away from the Saints to be your backup/potential heir apparent
- You actively shop Branden Albert, potentially opening up a gaping hole at tackle
- You then rave about Geno Smith
Now, no offense to Mr. Dorsey, but you'd have to be a complete idiot to fall for this. The Chiefs could sink the #1 overall pick into Geno Smith, but if they let Albert walk and have Smith and Daniel on the roster, long-suffering Chiefs fans might throw him onto I-70. They would be justified in doing so.
Remember: what the Chiefs or others say doesn't matter. What they DO does matter. Draft picks = Alex Smith's the man— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) March 27, 2013
Rotoworld saw through this. I saw through this, and my knowledge of the Chiefs is admittedly limited. Yet teams persist in trying out these smokescreens, which would seem to suggest that they're successful sometimes. That would seem to further suggest that NFL front offices are dotted with extremely gullible people, which is a depressing thought.
Do they work, though? I'm going the small sample size route because I'm an inveterate lazybones, but I decided to take a look at the 2012 NFL Draft and see if this held up. After all, the Buccaneers and Rams were rumored to be considering moving down, the Vikings were going to pass on Matt Kalil in favor of Morris Claiborne and golly, who knew who was going to end up with Robert Griffin?
As it turns out, last year was a perfect example of the smokescreen having more than a little effect on teams. The Redskins jumped up to take Robert Griffin, knowing he'd be off the board after the second pick, but they never really bought that the Colts weren't zeroed in on Andrew Luck at the top of the draft. The Vikings moved down one pick, behind the Browns, and took Kalil as expected. The Browns got Trent Richardson, the Jaguars got Justin Blackmon and the Cowboys jumped up ahead of the Buccaneers to take Claiborne. The Buccaneers used Jacksonville's pick to grab Mark Barron, though it's entirely possible they wanted in on Claiborne. Fletcher Cox, widely rumored to be a possible top five pick, went 12th overall to the Eagles.
That's a dizzying array of trades, and I'm just cherry-picking here to make a point. The point is that with player salaries clocking in lower than ever, the smokescreen game is actually getting more effective for teams that play it right. All you need to do is plant a seed of doubt that you intend to snap up a player another team desperately wants and they may be willing to cut a deal with you. We'll see if 2013 mirrors 2012, but I wouldn't be surprised if it does.
Still, Dorsey's extremely clumsy attempt to link the Chiefs to Geno Smith probably isn't going to work. Teams are and should be much more worried about the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have been linked to Smith all along. David Caldwell isn't one to play those games.
What do you think of the smokescreen game?