The smokescreen season is hitting its crescendo in the NFL as the last few days before the 2015 NFL Draft roll by. Between the misdirection, misinformation, and misconceptions, there is still the occasional glimmer of truth that shines through. During the build up to free agency, rumors and speculation had the Miami Dolphins interested in signing defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. The team did not have the salary cap space to make such a move and anyone who thought it was a possibilty clearly did not understand how football works; Suh's agents were obviously using the Dolphins to drive up the signing price for some other team.
Except, the rumors and speculation turned out to be truth as the Dolphins did sign Suh, giving them the top free agent in this year's class, and potentially one of the best free agents to hit the open market in years.
Now that same sort of speculation is circling around Georgia running back Todd Gurley. Reports continue to say the Dolphins want the running back, and they do not seem to be hiding the fact that they are interested. "He’s a talent," Miami assistant general manager Eric Stokes told reporters this week when asked about Gurley. "He’s definitely a player that his ability stands out and shines. He’s an exciting guy to watch. We’ve enjoyed working through that process with him and seeing him. From there, we’ll see where things shake out."
The Dolphins have an interesting (to say the least) history with first round running backs. Outside of Larry Csonka and Ronnie Brown, the team has never had success with a running back selected in the first round. The Miami Herald's Adam H. Beasley put together a look back at the inept drafting of first round running backs for the Dolphins, including John Avery, David Overstreet, Sammie Smith, Lorenzo Hampton, and Jim Grabowski. It is not an impressive list.
Which brings us back to Gurley. The Georgia star running back tore his ACL in November. He was unable to participate in the NFL Scouting Combine or Georgia's Pro Day due to the injury. He has always maintained that he will be ready for the NFL season when it opens in September. Gurley did attend the NFL's medical re-evaluations in Indianapolis recently, where, as Rob Rang of CBS Sports writes, "One general manager, in fact, anticipated that Gurley would be 'ready to roll by training camp.'"
The Dolphins really seem to want Gurley - as Beasley writes, multiple sources have said the club "covets" the running back and "would love for him to fall to them at number 14." This is smokescreen season, though. Could this all be posturing by Miami to either make someone trade up to get Gurley? Could they be hoping someone will take him so their true target falls? Could they be talking him up in hopes it will lead to someone trading with the Dolphins, allowing them to move back a few picks, add a later pick in the Draft, and, potentially, still land Gurley? There could also be another reason Miami is talking up Gurley, if you want to believe in some backroom deals being made. South Florida Sun-Sentinel reporter Omar Kelly recently pointed out that Gurley is represented by Ari Nissim, from Roc Nation, who used to be a salary cap manager for the New York Jets under Miami Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum; talking up Gurley and having a team select him early in the Draft could be Tannenbaum trying to help Nissim.
Whatever is the truth - and we will likely never know for sure - there is a lot of smoke surrounding Gurley and the Dolphins. That leaves only the question of whether or not, there is actual fire.