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It is smokescreen season - everything you hear could mean anything

Rose Bowl Game - Oklahoma v Georgia Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Last night, Jost Houtz posted here on The Phinsider an article about the Dolphins planning to wine and dine Baker Mayfield. That, of course, immediately spun speculation that Miami is all-in on getting Mayfield. Comments started flying about how Miami has to get Mayfield, the Oklahoma quarterback, in order to save the franchise. People immediately tried to point to the idea of Miami “wining and dining” Mayfield means quarterback is the top priority this year (maybe that should be “person” not “people” but it was what I was seeing on Twitter, so I will go with it for now).

I pointed out on Twitter that we are in the middle of smokescreen season. Everything a team does right now is for a reason. Every time a story breaks about a team meeting with a player, there is a reason that information leaked out. There are plenty of stories about teams who drafted a player they barely met during the draft process, and even some about a team taking a big-name prospect without ever meeting with him.

And, meeting with a player has zero to do with a team’s needs. Those two have nothing to do with each other.

Anyway, today I decided to put together a list of reasons a team may meet with a player - and make sure that information gets leaked out to the media. (And, this assumes the team is the one leading to the leak, even though it could just as easily be the player/agent who makes the leak in order to drum up interest and possibly increase draft stock, ultimately leading to a higher draft pick and more money.)

1. We actually like the player and are considering drafting him, even if it involves a trade.

Pretty straight forward here. The team likes what they have seen and they are going to do everything they can to make sure they are comfortable with the fit and the player’s personality. If a team is going to spend a pick and money - and potentially numerous picks and more money if a trade is involved - they better know they are getting a quailty player. To make it a little more Miami focused, South Florida has eaten plenty of players who came to Miami and could not handle the night-life available to them; the Dolphins need to make sure whomever they select, that will be something the player can handle.

2. We like the player and want to know him in case the player we really want is not there.

In the previous category, the team is all-in on getting the player. In this one, he is a possibility if he is on the board and the player they really want is not available. This is the “due deligence” category. The club needs to make sure they have a good feeling about the player, just in case that is the selection they will make, but it is not a “run to the podium” type of situation.

3. We want to make it look like we want this player, when we are really targeting that player.

Welcome to the smokescreen section of draft preparations. If a team really likes a player that could fall to their draft position, but there are teams who could also select him, making it appear the target is someone else, could keep someone from trading up to grab him or make someone think they can get him in the next round/later in the same round. Teams are extremely protective of everything they do, and this is just an extension of that.

4. We want that team to trade up in front of us to get this player, so that we can get the player we really want.

Now we are starting to have some fun. The team really wants Player A, but they do not want to spend the extra draft picks to trade up to get him. They wine and dine Player B, a player they know teams selecting after them want, trying to force a team to trade up to grab before the original team takes him. Or course, the original team was not looking to select Player B, and now Player A has a better chance of falling back to them.

5. We want that team to trade up with us because they are worried we will take the player they want, even though we would prefer the extra draft picks.

This is similar to part four, but the difference here is the goal is to get a team to trade up to the original team’s spot. This works well if the original team is not infatuated with any one player, but they can find a way to get some extra draft picks. The trick here is to make it look like they are interested in the player, but not so interested that they have to have him. It works best of a team one or two selections after the original team are really interested in the same player, thus making the semi-interested original team the best place to land for a team moving up.

There is no way to know which, if any of these, the Dolphins are trying to accomplish with the “wine and dine” of Mayfield. Maybe they really do want to select him and will either trade up or wait at 11 and hope he is still on the board. Maybe they are just doing their due deligence. Maybe they want a different player, and Mayfield is the carrot to get another team to trade up. Whatever the case, there seems to be some fire to the interest between Dolphins and Mayfield.

Is that fire genuine, or is it just buliding up a smokescreen?