No one knows what the Atlanta Falcons are doing with their first pick of the 2014 NFL Draft. We do know what they WILL NOT do, though. They won't trade up to No. 1 overall to select Greg Robinson.
Where would I even get such a ridiculous notion? Oh, the Internet, of course.
Heard today that #Falcons want to trade up to #1 to take OT G. Robinson & are not interested in taking J. Clowney with top choice.— Russell Lande (@RUSSLANDE) April 29, 2014
The first thing that came to mind when I read that tweet was, "Wow, that is the absolute worst smoke screen I've ever seen." Hopefully you experienced a similar reaction. Here's how the conversation between Lande and that scout/agent/whoever leaked the information to him went:
"The Falcons are not interest in Clowney at No. 1, they'd rather trade up to the first pick for Robinson..."
Fortunately, no one is buying into this particular rumor. Probably because it's the worst one we've seen.
Why exactly would someone leak that? Nick Wagoner of ESPN wrote an article on the nature of deception surrounding the NFL Draft. He does a good job of explaining the purpose of smoke screens.
The most common fake-out is a team expressing interest in a prospect it has no interest in taking. The theory is that someone else might want that player, move up to get him and push a player the original team actually wants further down the board. Even teams with the No. 1 pick get in on the fun and games.
In the case of the Falcons, we're not exactly looking at other teams hoping to move up for Robinson, but they might be able to gain leverage in the hopes of acquiring Clowney. The Texans don't seem to enjoy their current position. They're looking for trade partners, and Atlanta is probably their only hope.
Assuming that's true, if the Falcons make it look like they're content with taking Robinson, they could theoretically trade with the Rams at No. 2 instead. There's no way Houston is drafting Robinson first overall. The result of the misdirection would land the Falcons a cheaper deal for the top selection. If the Texans are truly set on moving back, they don't want to lose their only suitor.
Now, we can't be sure where the info is coming from, but we can see the intended purpose. The Falcons obviously have interest in Clowney. Can they get a cheap enough deal to pull the trigger? We'll see how many other smoke screens we'll have to sift through before May 8.