We've now entered the time of the offseason right before the NFL draft in which most teams throw out smokescreens to confuse anyone paying attention.
This year, the most popular and notable smokescreen involves West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith.
Smith is often classified as a top-10 selection in the 2013 NFL draft, as he was recently by NFL Network's Mike Mayock (per SiriusXM NFL Radio) and countless others.
The problem is, Smith is a flawed prospect in what is considered a very weak class at the position. Some even go so far as to say he is a prospect thanks to his inability to quickly read a defense, as NFL Films' Greg Cosell did recently when breaking down Smith's play (per NFL.com).
This has caused quarterback-needy teams in the top 10 such as the Oakland Raiders to begin serious bluffing campaigns in order to entice another franchise to give up a massive haul via trade to move up to take Smith.
Many teams are potentially feigning interest as the Raiders are, but some will claim it's simply each franchise performing its due diligence. Not for these franchises.
Smith is a special talent who has big-time skills in the passing game, and he is athletic enough to escape the pocket, which is especially important considering the teams in play for his services at the top of the draft have questionable offensive lines.
Here's a look at the Raiders and a few other teams who need to stop bluffing and get serious about making Smith their next franchise quarterback.
The Jacksonville Jaguars for all intents and purposes seem set on giving the starting job to either Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne next season despite holding the No. 2 overall pick.
You're joking, right?
Henne has never proven to be anything more than a career backup, and Gabbert has failed to do anything of merit in two seasons despite being physically gifted and at one point possessing golden locks that would make Clay Matthews blush.
Gabbert and Henne ranked as the No. 27 and No. 30 overall quarterbacks in the league last year, according to ProFootballfocus (subscription required). For those of you keeping track, there are 32 teams in the NFL.
According to SI, the Jaguars have visited with Smith and came away impressed, but is the team just bluffing?
One thing's for sure—they shouldn't be. Jacksonville's offensive line is in shambles, so his athleticism is ideal. It's better to start over with a new quarterback like Smith and build around him rather than continuing to wish that some form of talent will miraculously emerge from Gabbert.
With the curse of Ryan Fitzpatrick finally gone, the current starting quarterback in Buffalo is the ineffective Tarvaris Jackson. The long-held notion that Buffalo is taking a quarterback with the eighth overall pick is even more likely now.
In other words, Smith is Buffalo's pick if he makes it to eighth overall.
Right? Buffalo needs a franchise quarterback, so the team certainly couldn't be bluffing.
The Philadelphia Eagles are fortunate enough to have a new head coach in Chip Kelly, who happens to be an offensive guru. Philadelphia also happens to hold the No. 4 overall pick in the upcoming draft.
For Kelly, his options at quarterback aren't great. Michael Vick time and again has proven he's made of glass, and the horrendous offensive line in Philly won't change that next season. Even worse, he was the No. 32-ranked quarterback in the league last season, according to ProFootballFocus (subscription required).
The solution is really quite simple. If Smith happens to fall, Kelly has himself a new franchise quarterback he can mold into his dynamic offense. Kelly and his staff have already put Smith through a "tough workout" (per Philly Mag) and appear to have a lot of interest.
If Kelly likes what Smith brings to the table, he has to be the pick at fourth overall. Philadelphia may just be posturing in order to gain more picks to fill a plethora of holes on the roster, but that would be a foolish thing to do with a quarterback like Smith available.
It's hard to get a read for what the Cleveland Browns are really thinking as the draft approaches. Sure, the team took Brandon Weeden in the first round last year, but CEO Joe Banner has not ruled out doing the same thing again in the first round this year (per Cleveland.com).
The good news is, this year the rookie won't be almost 30 years old. The even better news is, Smith could still be on the board at No. 6 overall.
Cleveland held a private workout with Smith (per Cleveland.com), so it's clear Weeden's job may be in trouble. The new regime in Cleveland has proven through its free agency actions that it is serious about making the Browns a competitive team again.
That process could begin with Smith. More picks while trading down could help fill the roster littered with holes, but the more important area of need right now if finding a viable quarterback to pair with Trent Richardson for years to come.
That's where Smith comes into play.
Oakland holds the No. 3 overall pick in the draft, and it appears to be the first legitimate team Smith could land with if NFL network's Adam Schefter is to be believed (per Dane Brugler).
On the surface, the Raiders don't appear to have a major need at quarterback. Carson Palmer threw for over 4,000 yards last season, and the athletic Terrelle Pryor is still hanging around with a chance to steal the starting job.
That said, Pryor hasn't shown much, and Palmer has been on the decline for years since pulling a retirement stunt in Cincinnati.
General manager Reggie McKenzie has no ties to either quarterback, and he could choose to get his own franchise quarterback in Smith when the draft rolls around. According to CBS, high-ranking officials from Oakland were in attendance at Smith's pro day, which should be enough to prove McKenzie is at least considering the prospect of making him the third overall pick.
Heck, even stashing Smith behind Palmer for a year would be smart play for the Raiders. He's a special talent who fits the offense well and, if coached correctly, could turn out to be the franchise quarterback the Raiders have been missing for years.
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