Tis the season to bluff, this fortnight period from the end of the Super Bowl until the beginning of the Combine in Indianapolis, football’s version of standardized testing. Soon to be released casualties of the team’s budget requirements are deemed important contributors to the franchise. Marginal pickups from the waiver wire are paraded around as permanent replacements in a futile attempt to hide obvious weaknesses at positions that a team will draft for in the early rounds. The new buzz word to pretend that players who have overstayed their welcome might not be leaving is “competition.” In other words, the new high draft pick or productive free agent player at your position is not being obtained to take your job away, but merely to provide “competition.” Since the coaches and managements have all worked with one another at some point, in what is a small fraternity, nobody really believes what is being said, either by self-proclaimed draft gurus or themselves. Perversely, we fans root for particular players to be cut from our favorite teams to make room for cheaper, better ones, forgetting that the player being cut has a wife and family to support during an average career that runs between 3.5 to 6 years, depending on whether you believe NFL management or the player’s union, and therefore his mortgage is likely to be five to ten times as long as his playing career.

Yet there are real and developing stories to pay attention to, some of which will be settled in the free agent signing period that precedes the actual beginning of the draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York on April 26. Will the Kansas City Chiefs actually trade their third round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for quarterback Nick Foles? And if the Chiefs do, will they take Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel with the first pick, or hold a bidding war for West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith? Or permit the Jaguars to take Smith and hold their own auction for his services? The Jaguars are in a total rebuilding mode and need help everywhere. The Cleveland Browns are apparently desperate to get Smith and the Arizona Cardinals could be. The Buffalo Bills and New York Jets have presumably resigned themselves to lesser options than Smith at quarterback. The Jets, according to the latest news out of New York, are doubly handicapped because superstar corner Darrelle Revis is recovering slower than expected from ACL surgery and apparently cannot be pedaled for a high draft pick. The Jets may be prompted to desperate measures. They probably also wish the draft still had 17 rounds as it did until 1977.

How far will Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones fall because of a spinal defect? The NFL probably has never faced as serious a medical issue in the run up to the draft as this one. The league is already bombarded with personal injury lawsuits due to brain damage and the last thing it needs is for Jones to become paralyzed on the field with so much advance notice. No amount of signed waivers will necessarily preclude serious and protracted litigation should Jones become severely injured. What is an assumed risk defense on a football field, and thus barring suit, is a murky area, and not one that the league would like to see dominating the news, for years to come. A lawyer, Commissioner Goodell understands that football has drifted away from merely tackling, to players launching their bodies like rockets through the air in recent decades, causing uncalculated damage to themselves and their opponents. The owners, who decide these issues, may have to choose between spectacular hits that fans love and safety that could possibly lose some of their audience. Goodell has already proposed limiting helmet hits by ejecting offenders. Maybe the league should eject defensive coordinators for vicious hits. Baseball’s generous application of player and manager ejections seems to do wonders in keeping that sport under control.

Here are the short term answers to these questions, all with a short shelf life, absent warranties, and as delivered on Saturday, April 16, at 2p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M

Arizona Cardinals: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia; in trade with Jacksonville for 1 (7), 3 (124), and 6 (208).

Oakland Raiders: Bjoern Warner, DE, Florida State

Philadelphia Eagles: Star Lotulelei, NT, Utah

Detroit Lions: Barkevius Wingo, DE, LSU

Cleveland Browns: Demontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M

Jacksonville Jaguars: Shariff Floyd, DT, Florida

Buffalo Bills: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas

New York Jets: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama

Tennessee Titans: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

San Diego Chargers: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma

Miami Dolphins: Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford

Tampa Bay Bucs: Dee Milner, CB, Alabama

Carolina Panthers: Jonathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State

New Orleans Saints: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon

St. Louis Rams: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama

Pittsburgh Steelers: Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas

Dallas Cowboys: Ezeckiel Ansuh, DE, BYU

New York Giants: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Mizzou

Chicago Bears: Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame

Cincinnati Bengals: Alec Ogletree, OLB, Georgia

St. Louis Rams: DJ Fluker, OT, Alabama

Minnesota Vikings: Cordelle Patterson, WR/KR, Tennessee

Indianapolis Colts: Jonathan Jenkins, DT, Georgia

Seattle Seahawks: Keenan Allen, WR, Cal

Green Bay Packers: Matt Elam, SS, Florida

Houston Texans: Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor

Denver Broncos: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington

New England Patriots: Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB, UCONN

Atlanta Falcons: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU

San Francisco 49ers: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State

Baltimore Ravens: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU

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