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Be careful of what you read

This is the time of year when NFL teams pull out their best poker face in hopes of not showing their hands in regards to the NFL Draft.  You'll hear words like "smokescreen" and "misinformation" thrown around a lot when talking about the upcoming draft.  And what this means is that, as fans, you need to take everything you see, hear, and read with a grain of salt.

There's an old saying that "actions speak louder than words."  And that's very true when you're talking about professional football.  It's not what you say but rather how you perform out on the field.  Well that saying also applies to teams and their smokescreens as well.  Not only will teams purposely leak information to cover up what their real plans are; they'll also make sure it's known that they were at a prospect's workout.

Why do I bring this up?  There was an interesting little blurb in Sunday's Miami Herald about the Dolphins and Matt Ryan, brought to my attention thanks to Alpha6:

Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan and Michigan tackle Jake Long share the same representation, and the Dolphins so far have inquired far more about Ryan, although we are cautioned not to draw any conclusions. The Dolphins requested a private interview with Ryan after BC's March 18 Pro Day. Mel Kiper, on, believes the Dolphins are leaning toward drafting Virginia defensive end Chris Long, with Ryan a ``distinct possibility.''

Part one of this is the fact that the Dolphins have inquired "far more" about Matt Ryan than about Jake Long.  Could this be true?  Of course it could be.  But it could also be a case of the Dolphins trying to convince the world (or just the Falcons) that they are indeed seriously considering Ryan and if Atlanta wants him, they'll have to trade up.  Or it could be that Ryan's agent is purposely trying to drum up interest in his client.  After all, the NFL is a copycat league and Ryan's agent could be thinking that if they get other teams to believe the great Bill Parcells is interested in Ryan, that other teams will say to themselves, "Hmmm, maybe we should gie this kid a serious look."  

Again, this is the time of year for misinformation.

The second part of the Herald's blurb is about the Dolphins reportedly requesting a "private interview" with Ryan after his pro-day workout.  Clearly, somebody wants it known that the Dolphins will indeed be at Ryan's pro-day.  Could it be the Dolphins really are that interested in matt Ryan?  Of course.  But I offer you this nugget about last year's draft, written on April 12, 2007:

In the last two weeks Cam Cameron and Randy Mueller have attended private workouts for Brady Quinn, Drew Stanton, and Trent Edwards. Also, Mueller recently said the Dolphins are hoping to select a quarterback in the draft.

While this could be a smokescreen, chance are the Dolphins will draft a quarterback on the first day (first three rounds). Quinn is likely the choice if he falls to the Dolphins in the first round. Stanton and Edwards could be options in round two.

That's right.  They attended the pro-days of Quinn, Stanton, and Edwards.  And they passed on all three quarterbacks when they could have had any of them.  Instead, they selected John Beck.  Coincidentally, the Dolphins were not represented at John's pro-day workout.  Hmmm...

My point here is not to say the Dolphins are not interested in Matt Ryan.  What I wanted to do, though, is just highlight the fact that you can't take anything you hear about who the Dolphins are considering too seriously.  In fact, Mel Kiper's belief that the Dolphins are "leaning towards" taking Chris Long should be taken with a grain of salt as well.  Sure, many believe the Dolphins are favoring Long with the #1 pick.  But couldn't that just be what Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland want everybody to think?

The fact of the matter here is that anyone who thinks they know what the Dolphins will do with the top pick is just kidding themselves.

And that's what will make the next 7 weeks so much fun!