2013 NFL Draft: Branden Albert Trade Talks Tipping Chiefs’ Hand


James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 NFL Draft is just days away and that means the rumors of what the Kansas City Chiefs are going to do with the No. 1 pick are beginning to heat up.

Here are just a few of the rumors and reports we’ve heard in recent days:

1. The Chiefs will absolutely select LT Luke Joeckel.

2. Some Chiefs position coaches prefer LT Eric Fisher to Joeckel.

3. The Chiefs are going to select DE Dion Jordon.

4. The Chiefs are “desperate” to trade out of the No. 1 pick.

5. The Chiefs have given the Miami Dolphins permission to speak with Branden Albert’s representatives.

6. Branden Albert and the Dolphins are now in contract talks.

7. The Chiefs are fascinated with QB Geno Smith. He reminds them of Donovan McNabb.

So what does this all mean?

During this time of year, it can be helpful for teams to put out as much conflicting information as possible.  The less opposing teams know about the Chiefs’ intentions, the better.

For example, let’s say the Philadelphia Eagles are in love with Dion Jordan. Perhaps Philly is convinced that the Chiefs are taking a Joeckel, the Jaguars are taking Fisher and that the Raiders are taking Geno Smith or Dee Milliner. That is good news for the Eagles because they can feel confident that Jordan will fall to them at No. 4.

Then, suddenly, a few reports start leaking out that the Chiefs are interested in Jordan. This could cause some doubt for the Eagles. At the same time, Philly has also likely seen the reports that the Chiefs very interested in trading back. So maybe, to guarantee they can get their man, the Eagles will be willing to call up the Chiefs and offer up their second-round pick to swap spots in the first round. The Eagles could never be sure if the Chiefs would have selected Jordan or not but if they want him bad enough, they might be willing to part with an extra pick to snag him.

Thus, the Chiefs benefit from putting out some misinformation.

Of course, the situation mentioned above is a simple example and tricking other teams into believing what you want them to believe isn’t necessarily easy.

During last year’s draft, however, the Minnesota Vikings were able to convince the Cleveland Browns to move up to select HB Trent Richardson. The Vikings were picking one slot ahead of Cleveland. Minnesota has Adrian Peterson (albeit he was coming off a serious injury) so the Browns probably weren’t worried that the Vikings were going to select Richardson themselves. What probably happened is that Minnesota convinced the Browns that another team was willing to trade to move ahead of Cleveland in order to land Richardson. The Browns had an abundance of draft picks acquired the previous year when they traded with the Falcons so Atlanta could acquire WR Julio Jones, so Cleveland pulled the trigger on the trade to ensure they got Richardson.

Since the Chiefs have the first pick, they seem to be trying to feign interest in all of the top four or five prospects, while also letting it be known that they are more than willing to move back. This way, KC is saying to the rest of the league “look, we don’t really want to pick here but if we do pick, we might take your guy so if you want him, come and get him.”

This strategy might work for the Chiefs if not for one fatal flaw in their plan.

Branden Albert.

The Chiefs have tipped their hand with the whole Branden Albert trade rumors thing and I am not sure why.

By cutting Eric Winston and dangling Albert, the Chiefs are broadcasting to the entire NFL that they are just a trade away from needing two starting tackles. Sure, the Chiefs might be trying to convince folks that they plan to start Donald Stephenson at one spot or even that Geoff Schwartz is in the mix but I don’t think anyone is buying that particular bag of magic beans.

The cutting of Winston and dangling of Albert is making everyone, from draft pundits to NFL GM’s, think that not only are the Chiefs planning to draft a tackle No. 1 overall, but that they have to.

It seems the Chiefs are more concerned with dealing Albert and ensuring they can get a second-round pick back after dealing their own to the San Francisco 40ers for Alex Smith, than they are with putting forth a believable smokescreen to the rest of the league in regards to their intentions with the No. 1 pick.

If Albert is traded to the Miami Dolphins before the Chiefs make their first selection then it is hard to see KC finding a trade partner. For one thing, the Chiefs would need to land one of the top three tackles to replace Albert and since Joeckel, Fisher and Lane Johnson are all projected to go in the top ten, that would severely limit how far back the Chiefs could move.

In fact, even with Albert still on the roster, the belief will be that the Chiefs are going tackle anyway. Albert is only on a one-year franchise contract and his relationship with the team has clearly soured somewhat this offseason.

At this point, if I am John Dorsey, I’m not trading back any farther than No. 6, currently occupied by the Cleveland Browns. A six, there are pretty good odds that Lane Johnson will still be on the board, thanks to the high ratings for players like Milliner, Jordan and the uncertainty over where QB Geno Smith will land.

At this point, the only way I could see the Chiefs not being forced to not select a tackle at No. 1 is if KC suddenly did a 180 and signed Branden Albert to a long-term contract but that appears to have as much of a chance of happening as Tyson Jackson leading the league in sacks this year.

None of us knows exactly what is going to happen Thursday night but if I were a betting man, I’d say Albert is finally dealt to Miami for a second-round pick and the Chiefs select either Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher No. 1 overall.

But what do I know? The new regime has surprised me before. Maybe they’ll do it again.