With a little over 2 hours until the draft officially begins, rumors are starting to fly about teams trading up, down and out to get prospects. Buff fans are a little more interested in this year's NFL draft because two former Colorado players, CB Jimmy Smith and OL Nate Solder, are expected to be taken in the first round. We have heard anywhere from the 13th pick to the 32nd pick for both. Jimmy Smith has generated a ton of buzz today with hints of teams moving up in the draft to get him from teams shying away because of recent stories being released of his off the field issues. He certainly has been one of the more polarizing figures in this year's draft. All the talent, a few red flags...the question is are teams bluffing by saying Jimmy is off the board or will he fall out of the first round?
On to the rumors...
Michael Lombardi and Jason LaCanforna of NFL Network both mentioned CB Jimmy Smith is a hot commodity and is jumping up team's draft boards. The latest rumor is the Oakland Raiders are trying to move into the first round to get him. Anybody willing to make a move in this year's draft with the ability to only trade picks, not current players says something about how people are valuing Smith. Most teams will have to overpay to move up in this year's draft and the Raiders will have to give up a first rounder next year to get him.
But teams like Oakland who have struggled with players getting in trouble (cough JaMarcus Russell cough) certainly have heard all the red flags around Smith. Reports like this out of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel could make a huge difference in teams actually pulling the trigger tonight. Comparisons to CB Aqib Talib, former Kansas Jayhawk now Tampa Bay Buc, doesn't help Smith. Talib has been in trouble throughout his stint in the NFL.
Personally, I don't think Smith will fall out of the first round. Many are saying he is just as talented if not more talented than Patrick Peterson out of LSU. You never know if stories are being floated by other teams to get Smith to fall to their pick.
A Baltimore Ravens - Jimmy Smith marriage seems to have the most momentum. The Baltimore Beat Down, the Ravens blog on SBNation, believes it is the former Buff cornerback who GM Ozzie Newsome may have fallen in love with over all other players in the draft. The Ravens have the 26th pick in the draft so they will have to hope Smith falls to them. Ravens people are comparing Smith to a former Baltimore CB Chris McAllister. Both being big and strong cover corners who fit the scheme of the aggressive Raven defense. The Philadelphia Eagles may nag him at #23 and if he falls past the Ravens, one would have to think the Pittsburgh Steelers would would look at Smith very hard. If there was a concern about Smith's off the field issue, you would think an organization like the Steelers would be perfect for him. Successful franchise with strong leadership at the top in Mike Tomlin.
In a likely best case scenario for Smith, Wes Bunting (@Wes Bunting) of the National Football Post tweeted earlier today he believes Smith may go #13 to the Lions. If any of you watched the Detroit Lions vs. New England Patriots game from a year ago where former Denver Bronco corner Alphonso Smith was torched, it is easy to see why they need a cornerback. The Lions are hoping CB Prince Amukamara falls to them but if not, Smith could be the pick.
Things have been a little quiet around Nate Solder recently. Offensive tackles don't create the rumor mill like skill positions do. Like Smith, we don't have a ton of clarity where he will go. I have seen him fall to #65 in a few mocks. Most still have him going in the first round though. Indianapolis at #22 seems to be the experts' consensus which would be a great opportunity for Nate to protect one of the best quarterbacks in the game in Peyton Manning. Solder is still raw, converting to a left tackle after his sophomore year from tight end. He needs a good coach to continue to work on knee bend and being consistent against speed rushers. But Solder has all the size, strength and athleticism to make him an elite NFL player which is the reason he will go in round one. The Detroit Lions are one team that many feel could draft either Nate Solder or Jimmy Smith with the 13th pick overall.
Best case scenario for both Smith and Solder looks to be #13 to the Detroit Lions.