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Let the lies begin

Keeping plans secret a key part of draft process

Posted: Wednesday April 26, 2006 4:56PM; Updated: Thursday April 27, 2006 2:49PM
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Reports have surfaced that the Titans are targeting quarterback Vince Young with the No. 3 pick.
Reports have surfaced that the Titans are targeting quarterback Vince Young with the No. 3 pick.
Bob Rosato/SI
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Floyd Reese cackled when I asked the Titans GM whether his organization started the rumor that he is targeting Vince Young with the third pick, against his staff's recommendation.

Texans GM Charley Casserly seemed annoyed when I broached the possibility that his consideration of defensive end Mario Williams with the top pick was being used as leverage in negotiating with tailback Reggie Bush.

With teams routinely disguising their intentions before the draft, fans and experts have to factor in such smokescreens when making predictions. Stunning picks and developments are sprinkled into every draft. (Remember Al Davis plucking kicker Sebastian Janikowski with the 17th pick in 2001, or quarterback Aaron Rodgers plummeting to No. 24 last year?) That's why I'm certain this year will make a mockery of virtually everyone's mock draft. I get the feeling this will be the wackiest draft in recent memory.

Last year, ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. correctly predicted eight picks in the first round, including the first four. SI.com's Dr. Z nailed nine, including the first three. But I bet this year even the experts won't get the first few. All it takes is one surprising selection -- or a trade -- to set off a domino effect.

If Houston picks Williams, do the Saints snap up Bush when they were planning to choose between tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Williams? Or does New Orleans swap the pick with the highest bidder?

And if Bush somehow slips to No. 3, does Tennessee scrap its search for a quarterback?

Don't chortle. NFL experts are genuinely divided about the three quarterbacks. The conventional order seems to be Matt Leinart (for his polish), Vince Young (potential) and Jay Cutler (powerful arm). But when you hear someone like ESPN's Merrill Hoge -- who has no reason for subterfuge -- declare that he wouldn't touch Leinart or Young in the first round, you have to wonder. Hoge has more credibility in assessing talent than most talking heads because he religiously studies film, isn't being spun by any GMs and played the game. My favorite show during the season is EA Sports NFL Matchup, because Hoge & Co. deconstruct film for insights that often fly in the face of NFL convention.

An incessant rumor is that Reese -- who has final say in Tennessee -- favors Young, while Leinart is preferred by coach Jeff Fisher and offensive coordinator Norm Chow, who held a similar position at USC from 2001 through '04.

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