If this were every other year, we'd be around 48 hours away from the NFL Draft, with all of the conjecture, smokescreens and posturing set to expire this weekend.
But it's not every other year. It's 2014, and in 2014, where the draft has been moved back two weeks
so the NFL can usurp more of the calendar because of a Radio City Music Hall scheduling conflict, we are going to get even more baseless speculation and anonymous sources whether we like it or not.
Up until now, my personal favorite euphemism for anonymous sources had been "people around the league," as in "people around the league believe the Texans will draft a human being."
But Peter King destroyed "people around the league" on Monday in his weekly MMQB.com column.
"Houston, at No. 1, isn't set on Jadeveon Clowney. In fact, one FORS (Friend of Rick Smith) told me the Texans general manager likes Khalil Mack over Clowney, and we still don't know which quarterback Houston would choose if it chooses one first overall. I still think the Texans would go with a more sure thing with the first overall pick than a quarterback -- and that sure thing could also be tackle Greg Robinson. But imagine Mack, the outside linebacker from the University of Buffalo, being the first pick in a stacked draft. Wouldn't that be something--a second straight Mid-American Conference player (Eric Fisher, Central Michigan, by Kansas City) as the top pick in the NFL draft?"
Now, I did a Google Image search on "friends of Rick Smith," and it's mostly pictures of Bob McNair, Cal McNair, Rick Smith's wife, Tiffany, and a shit ton of pictures of Rick Smith himself. And therein lies your answer. I'm going with the FORS actually being Smith himself, especially considering that Smith has guest-written a column for King before. I mean, it's not like King has to go sniffing around Smith's periphery to piece together what Rick might be thinking. If he wants to know, likely he can just call.
So with that in mind, how about we translate King's speculation, shall we?
TRANSLATION: King called Rick Smith, and Smith asked him to print about how much he likes Mack so that teams with a pick somewhere between fourth and seventh (around where Mack is expected to get picked) know that the Texans are cool with trading back and still getting their guy. And oh, by the way, you Robinson lovers, Smith wants all of you to know he ain't scared to take a tackle, either.
Total smokescreen planted by Rick Smith's best friend. Himself. That's just my guess, and a total guess it is. King is every bit the puppet we all are in the media, actually even more so because of the size of his audience. A King post moves the needle and drives the dialogue.
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Meanwhile, as Mack and Robinson are bandied about as new apples of the Texans' eye by King, there was actual work going on Monday night:
My spies tell me Rick Smith and defensive coaches are at dinner with Clowney. Bill OBrien and offensive coaches are at dinner with Manziel.
— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) April 22, 2014
Just 16 more days....