The Final Four is over. Another Masters is in the books. That's means two things. First, the NFL Draft is around the corner. Second, this is the season for NFL coaches and general managers to put on their best poker faces.
This is the time of year when teams spread misinformation in order to confuse the other 31 teams. You never want the other organizations to know your line of thinking. We have the 24th pick in the first round. We have several players targeted, but there are one or two clear favorites. Those are the players we covet. We don't want teams just ahead or just behind us to know who they are.
The teams picking from No. 20 to No. 23 are the Texans, Bengals, Patriots and Packers. If they knew we coveted a certain prospect, they could call us and try to wheel and deal. Those teams could tell us that other teams are calling to inquire about a deal because they had a certain player targeted. That certain player would just happen to be our key target. The team could be lying or telling the truth about the calls. If would be up to Reid and Roseman to know who is bluffing and who is legit. This is all made much simpler if other teams don't know who you want.
Andy Reid and Howie Roseman will say certain things to the media. There will be a mixture of truth and lies. You can't completely sell a fake bill of goods. People see right through that. You have to mix things up so that no one is exactly sure what is real and what isn't.
This is tough on the fans. They listen to Reid and Roseman talk and hear some statements that seem crazy. I'm sure Reid would love to be able to huddle up all the Eagles fans in the world and tell them the whole off-season plan. He'd then have everyone raise their right hand and swear not to speak of this to anyone. Unfortunately, that isn't the way things work. We're stuck in an imperfect world where we have to get out our Reid/Roseman decoder rings. Maybe you'll be able to find out who the draft targets are. Or maybe your message will simply read, "Drink more Ovaltine."
You are going to hear the Eagles associated with a lot of prospects in the next 10 days. Don't get too happy or too mad as you hear the names. The pre-draft process involves a lot of information and plenty of it is bad. Just because Peter King says we like Tim Tebow doesn't mean we really like Tebow. I don't doubt he's heard that from someone, but it doesn't make it true. Who was the source? What was the source's agenda?
Knowledge is power. The Steelers just dealt a star receiver for only a fifth-round pick. Sure, Santonio Holmes had some serious issues, but that is a really low price. The Steelers shopped him around. Teams knew that Pittsburgh wanted to get rid of him. That drove the price way down. If a team makes it known that a player is available in a more subtle way it makes other teams come to them. That increases the leverage when it comes to bargaining.
Tom Heckert was a master at gathering information on other teams while also keeping our intentions pretty quiet. Roseman has a tough act to follow in this area. Let's hope he watched closely and learned well. Heckert's ability to "read" the draft board allowed us to get players like Brodrick Bunkley, Kevin Kolb and Cornelius Ingram by either standing still or even moving back. We coveted each prospect, but didn't have to sell out to go land them. We traded up to get Todd Herremans and Winston Justice, but did so outside the first round and at a lower cost. All of these players were great value picks.
The next couple of weeks should be a lot of fun. There will be some crazy rumors to sort through. There could be some trade talk before and even during the draft. We have plenty of picks and this is a deep draft with plenty of quality prospects.