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Draft: Separating the Smoke From the Fire

Draft: Separating the Smoke From the Fire

Baseball has its Hot Stove League. NASCAR has what’s called Silly Season. The NFL doesn’t have a catchy name for the annual barrage of chatter that happens every year in the few weeks prior to its annual selection meeting, but it’s just as hot and just as silly nonetheless.

Remember, back in the day, that cloud of hazy smoke that would hang over an event such as a Grateful Dead concert? The atmosphere around the NFL draft is beginning to resemble something just that whacky.

There are a few reasons for all of the buzz other than the immense popularity of the NFL and the intense interest in the draft. One of the very nature of NFL draft deals. While some are completed in advance of the draft, most are made while one of the teams involved is on the clock. It’s not until then that the teams involved know exactly what they’re trading.

Due to the necessity that deals be conducted at the last minute, there is nothing concrete in the days leading up to the draft. In the place of hard news are reports from anonymous team and league sources, speculation and some stuff that was just made up.

Of course, the Internet increases both the number of rumors making the rounds and the speed at which the stories travel exponentially. What used to be speculation being chewed over by a few guys enjoying a cold one after work is now spread to hundreds if not thousands in course of an evening. On top of that, there’s the constant pressure for the major sports Websites such as ESPN.com and CBS Sportsline to come up with new content—something posted three or four hours ago is sometimes considered old news. The compressed news cycle demands that stories be published before they’re fully developed. This leads to an increase in the quantity of stories and a decrease in the quality of them.

Speaking of low quality, there are also dozens of self-declared draft “experts” with their own Websites out there. At best they serve up rehashes of other reports; at worst they engage in sheer, uninformed speculation and rumormongering.

To be sure, there was no shortage of smoke being blown by NFL teams prior to the advent of the Internet. Back when the World Wide Web was just a gleam in Al Gore’s eye, Redskins GM Bobby Beathard would annually dole out vast amounts false information to the media. In fact, a good way to figure out who the Redskins would draft would be to take a list of prospects and cross off the name of any player that Beathard mentioned in public. Whoever was left had a shot at being picked.

In fact, a search of the Post’s archives reveals not one instance of Beathard being quoted uttering the name “Darrell Green” in the weeks prior to the 1983 draft. Green, of course was the Redskins’ first-round selection.

One thing is for sure. As Vinny Cerrato said at this time last year, "These next two weeks, you can't believe anything you hear."

And, just like at that Dead concert, be careful of how much of that smoke you take in. In both cases it can lead to faulty judgment.

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How playing at Alabama may have actually hurt Jonathan Allen's draft stock

How playing at Alabama may have actually hurt Jonathan Allen's draft stock

For the past few seasons, Jonathan Allen was a stud at the heart of Alabama's defense. He was far from the only stud, however, and that might be another factor in why he slipped to the Redskins at pick No. 17 on Thursday night.

The chief concern about Allen is the health of his shoulders, but there's also the question of how he'll do when he's no longer with Nick Saban's star-laden unit. It's easy to succeed when you're a part of a loaded ensemble cast, the thinking might've gone when it came to Allen, but how will you do on your solo project?

In addition to Allen, the Crimson Tide featured Marlon Humphrey (who went 16th to the Ravens), Reuben Foster (who went 31st to the 49ers) and others, like Tim Williams, Dalvin Tomlinson and Ryan Anderson, all of whom could go in Friday's second and third rounds. Together, that's a tremendous defense, but in the NFL, they'll be striking out on their own.

MORE REDSKINS: NORMAN, COUSINS, OTHERS WELCOME ALLEN TO D.C.

That's another possible explanation for why the Redskins were able to nab what was almost a consensus top-five prospect so late in the event.

"He's a really talented pass rusher but he's always been surrounded by enough talent that it's been hard for offenses to game plan their protection for him," one NFC director of player personnel told NFL.com.

Now, it's not like Allen is joining a bunch of nobodies in Washington. Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith and Zach Brown will also be lining up with him in Greg Manusky's front-seven. Oh, and Allen is no slouch either — the list of his strengths in this particular scouting report contains words like "superior," "proficient," "consistent" and "excellent."

But it is probably fair to say that, comparatively speaking, the rookie won't be amongst as many skilled guys as he was in college. By rushing to the podium to snag him, however, the Redskins clearly expect him to handle the NFL transition just fine.

RELATED: REDSKINS REPORTEDLY LOOKING TO TRADE ONE OF THEIR OWN    

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Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon could be out of reach for Redskins per oddsmakers

Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon could be out of reach for Redskins per oddsmakers

Florida State running back Dalvin Cook visited Redskins Park earlier this month. The Redskins did their homework on Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon in advance of the draft.

All of that pre-draft work might not matter though as Cook and Mixon will be off the board before the Redskins pick in the second round. At least according to oddsmakers.

Bovada.lv set over/under scenarios for both players. Cook lands at 38.5 and Mixon landed at 42.5.

[Related: Top end talent still available for Redskins in second round, but red flags remain]

Certainly both guys can go past the numbers established by the oddsmakers, but there's a reason drinks are free in Las Vegas. Oddsmakers tend to be very, very close when they set lines.

Considering that, if Washington wants either player, the team would likely have to trade up.

Much speculation has Cook the first player off the board to the Packers with the 33rd pick. It seems like a good fit.

[Related: Casserly says that Jonathan Allen is a more talented player than Solomon Thomas]

Mixon is more interesting. His loathsome action a few years back that was caught on video will continue to haunt him, but he will get drafted in the second round. He has the talent.

Bruce Allen has the capital to make a move. The team has nine more picks in the next six rounds. There's also the report that the team is shopping third-year pro Matt Jones.

Could a package of Jones and a late round pick entice a trade? It could.

Much like Thursday night, there will be plenty to watch Friday night.

More Redskins: Need to know: Five possible second and third round picks for the Redskins