Titans Draft CentralNEW YORK (AP) - Let's forget, for now, who will wind up in Detroit as the top pick in Saturday's NFL draft. And what team will get star receiver Michael Crabtree. And where the six offensive tackles likely to go in the first round will go.
Sure, the draft is all about grabbing new talent, plugging holes or beefing up a pro team's depth. It's also about the intrigue beyond the actual selections.
Such as the trades and the trends.
Will Cleveland deal Braylon Edwards to the Giants or the Eagles or the Titans or another receiver-needy club? Don't expect any hints coming out of Browns camp, where new coach Eric Mangini is more secretive than the CIA.
How about the Cardinals, tired of dealing with Anquan Boldin's contract demands, sending him to one of those teams?
"I didn't say a trade was necessary,'' Boldin has said. "I just want something to get resolved. It's something that's gone on long enough.''
Both wideouts would carry a hefty price, including at least a first-round selection Saturday.
What about Julius Peppers? Carolina franchised the standout defensive end and would get two first-rounders as compensation if anyone signs him. But the Panthers likely would settle for less in a trade, albeit not less than at least one first-round spot.
Still, Panthers general manager Marty Hurney recently said: "We've known Julius for seven years, and it has been a good seven years.''
"I think he knows how we feel, and we feel like he's been happy here. And again, nothing has changed. We franchised him, and when we did we knew there was a period for the process to take place. When that process goes through then he's going to be back.''
A smokescreen? Perhaps. That's a part of the process, too.
Other players considered available this weekend, regardless of what camouflage is being used by various teams, are receivers Chad Ocho Cinco of Cincinnati and Roscoe Parrish of Buffalo; and running backs Ronnie Brown of Miami and Edgerrin James of Arizona (who likely will be released this spring if he is not dealt).
As for any trading frenzies, consider the flux the NFL is in these days. With the possibility of a non-capped 2010 season staring teams, players and agents in the face, the rules under which business has been conducted for so long could readily change. That might impact how the clubs treat this draft.
Will some teams look to unload picks to save money for bidding wars caused by the disappearance of the salary cap - even with new restrictions on free agency that would be in place? Or might teams that often stockpile draft choices in future years (Eagles, Patriots) by trading down in the current grab bag opt to avoid that route?
Consider that both the Patriots and Eagles don't have a lot of holes, but do have a lot of picks this weekend.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said urgency will determine such moves more than anything.
"It's much more of let's wait until we are on the clock,'' he said. "Let's wait to see what's on the board and then we will decide if we want to move or not. That's the way 99 percent.''
That urgency often is enhanced when a run on a position occurs.
Last year, eight offensive tackles were selected in the first round, including six in a span of 10 picks midway in the round, starting with Ryan Clady of Denver at No. 12. A similar rush to grab such blockers - left tackle is considered as important a position as any other on offense, save quarterback - could happen this year, dropping the bevy of solid wideouts lower than projected.
"I'd like us to use all of our picks on receivers and offensive linemen and have a bunch of weapons,'' Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer said. "But obviously, that's a quarterback's fantasy.''