DOLPHINSParcells tight-lipped on Dolphins' draft choicesNobody is venturing to guess what the Dolphins will do with the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, especially with Bill Parcells involved
Posted on Thu, Apr. 03, 2008
BY JEFF DARLINGTONjdarlington@MiamiHerald.com
PALM BEACH -- Go ahead. Try to guess.
Maybe you would swear it's going to be Michigan tackle Jake Long. Maybe you're sold on the Dolphins selecting Virginia defensive end Chris Long instead. Think it will be quarterback Matt Ryan? Or defensive end Vernon Gholston?
One warning: When it comes to which prospect the Dolphins will select with the first overall pick in the NFL Draft, don't go buying a new jersey until draft day is actually done -- especially when Bill Parcells has anything to do with it.
''He's the master of throwing around smoke screens,'' said Rams coach Scott Linehan, whose team has the second overall pick. ``I have no idea what they'll do. They could trade it with a minute to go before the first pick. No one knows. They might even have the deal done and wait until then.''
Yes, as the Dolphins continue to keep their options open for a trade out of the top spot, it appears this mystery will linger all the way until the final day on April 26. And everyone -- including the agents of the top players -- believes just that.
At this point, if Miami can't find a trade partner, it at least could be argued that Miami is more likely to choose Chris Long or Jake Long over anyone else, with Ryan a close third given coach Tony Sparano's endorsement of John Beck and Josh McCown.
But in an NFL climate full of conspiracy theories and utter paranoia, teams across the league instead attempt to resist believing anything they hear from others.
''At this time of the year, everybody is either a master of keeping it close to the vest or sending out misinformation,'' Smith said during the final day of the annual owners' meetings Wednesday. ``I know the Dolphins do have the first pick in the draft, but I think in the draft process, everyone is drafting independently of what happens elsewhere at this point.''
This, no doubt, is a time of year when anything could be construed as a smoke screen. Heck, even the Dolphins' decision to wait before saying whether it will run a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense could be a way to throw confusion into their interest in Chris Long.
A ridiculously paranoid notion? Probably. But this, as many who have been watching drafts unfold for decades, is a ridiculous time of year.
''It's amazing how much information is out there,'' ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said Monday. ``You have to use various ways. Too much is at stake for accurate information to get out. It's always a juggle on what you're going to say and what you're going to do.''
Sports Illustrated's Peter King recently told the story of a conversation he had in 1986 with Parcells -- then with the Giants -- on the eve of the draft. King heard Parcells had been closely scouting Ohio State linebacker Pepper Johnson a few days before.
''On the eve of the draft I called Parcells,'' King wrote. ' `Sounds like you're interested in Pepper Johnson,' I said. The noise that came out of [Parcells'] mouth was something beyond, 'Are you kidding me? Pepper Johnson? Psssshhhhhawwww.' ''
Parcells' Giants, by the way, selected Johnson with their second-round pick.
So what does that suggest about the Dolphins' looming decision at this point? In essence, it suggests very few at this point know anything at all.
The Dolphins have held private workouts with all three major prospects (Chris Long, Jake Long and Ryan) -- but even that isn't enough to gauge actual interest. None of those three players has been given any indication as to where he stands. No talks about money. No negotiations at all.
The reason for the poker face is simple: Show other teams exactly who you plan on picking, and the pool for a trade partner becomes even slimmer (if not completely empty) than it already is.
For now, the conspiracy theories
will only continue to fly. The latest intriguing scenario? Perhaps Miami won't pick at all. If the Dolphins don't want to pay for the top pick -- and they don't have a trade partner -- the team technically could let the clock expire without making a selection.
League rules then would allow them to jump back into the mix whenever they were ready to pick -- thus getting the player they wanted for less money.
''That would be a pretty good story if somebody passed on the first pick just so they didn't have to pay,'' Linehan said.
"You'd lose your fans pretty quick. I don't think it'll happen. But man, that'd be quite a story.''
Then again, these days, it seems anything is possible.