General managers are always trying to find ways to get an edge on the competition, and the NFL draft is no different. Many experts think that the Jaguars are courting Ryan Kerrigan, but there's no way to know for sure. The Panthers are another team that seems to be throwing up a smokescreen. Last year, the Jaguars blindsided everyone (well, at least Mel Kiper) by taking Tyson Alualu with the tenth pick of the draft. Does Gene Smith have another trick up his sleeve for the draft this year?
As Tom Sorenson of the "Charlotte Observer" reported earlier this week, the Carolina Panthers seem to be in the process of making Cam Newton the number one pick of 2011. According to Sorenson, the Panthers had 6 representatives at Newton's pro day as well as going through a private work out with Newton earlier this week. The Panthers have also reportedly taken Newton and his family out to dinner twice.
All this certainly screams that the Panthers will take Newton, but is that really the case? My instincts tell me that there's no way that Cam Newton is taken first overall. I truly believe that Newton will be in Carolina because there is no reason for the Panthers to be throwing up false signs. No one picks in front of them, and if teams like the Bills really want a quarterback, they can just take Blaine Gabbert who is widely considered the best QB out of college this year.
Now, let's real this back in. The Jaguars and Gene Smith do have a reason to make other teams believe they'll take Kerrigan. Every team wants that competitive edge in the draft, especially considering the lack of free agency. The Jaguars may say they like Kerrigan in hopes that someone behind them really likes him. That team could propose a trade, and the Jaguars could trade down and still get the guy they wanted anyway.
Also, has anyone thought about the Jaguars trading out of the first round altogether. I realize it's highly unlikely, and I don't personally think it'll happen, but Smith could acquire multiple picks in the middle rounds for the first pick. In 2009, the Jaguars picked Knighton and Cox in the 3rd round, and they took Mike Thomas in the 4th round. I know that's a case of great drafting, but if the Jaguars could identify that kind of talent in the middle rounds, why not trade out of the first?
This time of the year is all about making other teams believe you'll do one thing when you fully intend on doing something else. The lack of ability to trade players should bring us less draft day trades, but there will still be some shocking moves, home run picks, and a few draft busts.