It's the ruse fans fall for every year. A month away from the draft there's always a magic bullet, the inescapable report designed by a motivated party to tear down a draft pick for some unknown reason. Maybe it's a team trying to ensure a player they like is available for them, perhaps it's a ruthless rival agent looking to get his player moving up the board. Now it's Kelvin Benjamin's turn, and sifting through the bullshit of what's real and fake will only make you tired.
Benjamin reportedly blew off a meeting with an NFL coach, that's what a report from NFL.com's Gil Brandt said on Friday. This isn't media-driven sensationalism, somebody gave this information to Brandt and he did his job by reporting it. The problem is that it's become impossible to discern what's real, exaggerated and made up all together.
The draft is one of the league's most fun events, yet the lead up is some of the most underhanded and disgusting behavior organizations involve themselves in. They routinely impact the earning potential of young men by trying to adjust their draft position with reports. Perhaps this information is true, maybe Benjamin did blow off a coach -- but there's underlying motivation for why someone inside that organization took it to Brandt.
Fool me once, shame on you...
Last year it was Keenan Allen. Once a lock for the first round, the receiver fell to the third. One week before the draft a report came out that his drug test had been flagged at the combine. His agent denied it, there wasn't concrete evidence that it was true -- but the truth was inconsequential.
Allen ended up being the league's best rookie receiver in 2013 and one of the draft's "steals."
Then there was DeAndre Hopkins out of Clemson. It quickly became apparent that the wide receiver rankings would be a two horse race between Hopkins and Tavon Austin, so naturally there was a negative report. This time it wasn't drugs, but immaturity -- trashing a hotel room during the pre-draft process.
It didn't matter that Hopkins said he wasn't there when anything happened, or that his camp denied it. Damage was already done.
The list goes on...
- Geno Smith didn't pay attention to coaches.
Seeing the pattern here? Forget where they were drafted, each player was regarded as being top three at his position following the NCAA season. The game film proved it to be true, they spent time in a college program and thrived up it -- yet for all the glowing reports when the season closed, magically it was time to tear them down in April.
Maybe it's all true. Perhaps all of these players had deep problems and gambles simply paid off. That seems possible or improbable. The trick for fans is to start taking these reports like the grains of sand they are, motivated parties with something to gain.