BOSTON (CBS) – CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora joined Patriots radio play-by-play man Bob Socci on the latest edition of the NFL Draft Preview Show.
In a normal NFL season we’d already be discussing, analyzing and accessing the draft grades for each team, but because the league pushed back the draft two weeks into May, fans have been forced to wait even longer to find out the prospects that will one day either make or break their team.
La Canfora tells Bob Socci that this is all a part of the NFL’s grand plan to have a meaningful event in every month of the calendar — something he admits he’s not a fan of.
With the draft being pushed back as far as it has, the rumor mill is spinning faster than ever with misinformation and rampant, uninformed speculation — which as you can imagine makes his job far more difficult.
La Canfora explained his approach to the draft Sunday morning with Bob Socci.
“When I’m writing about a particular player group, like the wide receivers, I’m gonna talk to the people who have all their comparisons in check, and people I know that did a lot of work on the receivers, have seen the kids play live, have done their homework. You try to get neutral opinions.”
Neutral opinions are admittedly hard to come by, and you never really know if the information you’re getting is valid, but familiarity with certain people in NFL circles plays a huge role leading up to the draft.
“You try to talk to people who have worked with certain GM’s before. Not that people tip their hand this time of year, but you know guys have certain alliances and allegiances with other guys in the league. You kind of know who trades information, and sometimes those people are willing to trade information with you, but there certainly are smoke screens.
“You can never really predict the draft. All it really takes is one quirky thing to happen, like a trade no one saw coming, or a team moving up that no one saw happening. If one player gets drafted completely off the board early the whole draft can change.”
On the topic of trading up to draft a player, one team rumored to be in the mix for Houston’s no. 1 overall pick is the Atlanta Falcons, who currently sit at no. 6.
General manager Thomas Dimitroff has a penchant for making bold moves (see: trading the house for Julio Jones), and the Falcons are reportedly “in” on South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, the projected no. 1 overall pick.
La Canfora says a move that big would require more than just Dimitroff’s doing.
“Anything that substantial the owners are involved, and everyone in the organization is comfortable with it. So at a certain level I think it becomes [Falcons owner] Arthur Blank and [Texans owner] Bob McNair, not Dimitroff and [Texans GM] Rick Smith. You’re talking about the first overall pick here.”
Three quarterbacks getting the most hype leading up to the draft are Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles. La Canfora does not envision a scenario where either of these guys falls out of the first round, despite articles to the contrary.
This led into a discussion about “scheme” versus “personnel.”
Two PAC-12 coaches now in the professional ranks, Pete Carroll and Chip Kelly, are considered by many to be innovators — Carroll for defense and Kelly for offense. Despite their successes, La Canfora notes, “If you don’t have the personnel to [run your scheme] you’re gonna be in trouble,” so teams hoping to emulate their style in one offseason probably won’t be met with much success.
La Canfora, a Baltimore native, then went on to discuss the Ravens and how they’re positioned to compete in 2014. After missing the playoffs in 2013 following a Super Bowl win, La Canfora believes Baltimore’s running game will be invigorated by the addition of coach Gary Kubiak.
La Canfora likes what [Jets GM] John Idzik has done with New York since taking the job, but still sees them as a team that will hover around .500 and miss the playoffs. As for the rest of the AFC, La Canfora says the offseason arms race has been won by the Patriots head coach.
“I think what Bill Belichick has done is beyond special. I think this draft, and the depth at wide receiver, sets up very well for them. I think Darrelle Revis is gonna play phenomenal football for them, and they’re gonna make a smooth adjustment into a press man team and not play quarters or halves as much anymore.
“I’ll take that trade. Revis for [Aqib] Talib? I’ll take that eight day a week. I’m bullish on the Pats. I really am. If some of the young running backs can stay healthy you’ll really see that offense take some steps. I think they’ll find a weapon or two in the draft. Keeping [Julian] Edelman helps, and I think they’ll run away with that division and win it by three games.”
Listen below for the full discussion: