Imagine a forthright George Washington and "Honest" Abe Lincoln as NFL general managers at work in April.
(So it's a stretch. Remember, these were versatile men.)
George would be lying through his wooden/ivory/whatever teeth, and Abe would establish presidential prevarication records (PPR) that would stand for more than 150 years.
April is NFL draft month, also known in polite circles as Liar's Month, when the first practice of good GMs is to deceive, becoming scheming Ponzis. They protect their big boards and whatever they may be thinking to the point of making the Manhattan Project common knowledge and open to visitors.
This lottery, which begins Thursday, is more fascinating than most, because it's a quarterback draft. As many as five quarterbacks — USC's Sam Darnold, UCLA's Josh Rosen, Wyoming's Josh Allen, Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield and Louisville's Lamar Jackson — could be gone before Roger Goodell straightens his tie.
Of course, they're all different, and thought of differently, with Darnold probably being the safest bet, although I'd be cautious in going to the ticket window. It's not impossible that all five will be good. There may even be a great one in the bunch. And all five may go bust.
Darnold's 2017 season wasn't as good as his 2016. He threw too many interceptions and over-tried to make things happen. He wasn't helped by an offensive line that wasn't very good and his receivers having the drops.
With Rosen, who may be better prepared than the others, the issues are durability and a spoiled-rich-kid attitude.
With Allen, seen by some as Carson Wentz's illegal clone, it's accuracy and level of competition. Can you make a quarterback accurate? The Cleveland Browns do like him (he has big hands). If so, he could be there at No. 4.
With Mayfield, it's his lack of height (he's about as tall as Drew Brees, who's had little trouble with it), attitude, and how he will fit as a locker room leader (there's video of him running and getting violently sacked by cops) — and that he played in a conference in which defense is a swear word.
With Jackson, one of the all-time-great collegiate QBs (he may be the steal in this group), it's accuracy and the non-NFL offense that rewarded him at Louisville.
Of immediate interest are the putrid Browns, who are under new management — football people, for a change. They need plenty, but are desperate for a quarterback to lead them out of the Cuyahoga River and back to their Sundays of dignity.
The Browns have the first and fourth overall picks. They also have the 33rd and 35th selections. So, with basically four first-round picks, if they're ever going to make chicken salad, this is the time.
What to do? If they give up one of those early picks, they're more foolish than they have been, heretofore thought to be impossible.
I had lunch a few weeks ago with three football men who have vast experience, and I asked them if they would select a quarterback with Cleveland's first pick.
I disagreed. If the Browns had only the first selection, I'd say yes. But if I were running the organization, I'd take Penn State tailback Saquon Barkley first overall, and then one of the QBs at No. 4.
Unless — a big unless — I were totally head over heels in love with one of these guys. Are the Browns? Darnold is said to be the one — but "said" in April means squat. Are they among those who've gone crazy because Darnold threw well with a wet football at his pro day?
I realize how some people feel about picking a running back that high, but thoughts on this are starting to change. Barkley could be a seminal tailback, and quite possibly the best player in this draft (he also played at a cold weather school). I can't believe he'll drop to No. 4, but Cleveland can't be certain.
They can be certain he'll be there at No. 1. And they know one of those quarterbacks will be available at No. 4. This is an opportunity to do some serious offensive damage up high.
There has been some failure with running backs drafted high — also success. I'll be beyond surprised if Barkley can't cut it.
As it is, quarterbacks taken up top are far from being sure things. It's the toughest position to evaluate (Sean Payton, as an example, is "uneasy" about this class). The best QB in the 2017 draft was Deshaun Watson, and he was picked 12th overall by Houston (he blew out a knee after a tremendous start to his NFL career).
I'm guessing that four of these guys will go in the top 10. There is no greater gamble in sports. If you draft a QB high and you miss, you are out swinging, down possibly for years.
Can a flawed quarterback class be a great quarterback class? The big croupier is gathering a lot of dice here, but they are going to be chosen high, nevertheless.
It's the way of the NFL. Without good quarterback play, you're either treading water or riding an anchor. You really don't have much of a choice.
But the Browns do have one. They can take Barkley, throw the draft into a piranha frenzy, and then get their QB.
Without knowing exactly what Tom Brady is going to do — and how long he will do it — the Patriots are even "said" to be thinking of using their two first-round picks to move up into the arms race.
Bill Belichick wouldn't have to be concerned with it if he hadn't been struck stupid and traded Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers for their 2018 second-rounder.
Belichick isn't finding another Brady in the sixth round.
Nobody's getting one in this first round, either.
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