- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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The plot thickens on draft day, and so does the smokescreen being released by NFL teams.
Here is the latest example: Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin is the No. 1 player on the Buffalo Bills' draft board. That's right: Austin isn't the eighth best player or the fifth best player -- he's No. 1, if you believe the information coming out of Bills' camp.
Austin is one of the hottest prospects in this draft. But after months of scouting, it's hard to believe Buffalo would take the undersized Austin if it had the No. 1 overall pick. This smells like a blatant smokescreen by the Bills to drum up interest in the No. 8 pick. Buffalo is a team looking to trade back for additional selections. But the Bills are sending a message that other teams do business with them to get Austin. The New York Jets are one team interested in Austin, and as Buffalo and New York continue to play mind games this week. The Jets on Wednesday said they are interested in drafting Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib, who is a strong target for Buffalo.
I warned AFC East readers to believe only a fraction of what you hear from teams this time of year. Teams are not truly divulging who is at the top of their draft board. There's no reason to let everyone know that information. The Bills surely have several players rated ahead of Austin, who is a top-10 or top-15 prospect.
Last week, reports surfaced that the Bills want Nassib in the first round. On Wednesday, the Bills were “seriously targeting” USC quarterback Matt Barkley. Now, just hours before the draft, Austin is their No. 1 player.
Credit Buffalo for doing a good job with misdirections. The Bills are one of the toughest teams to predict in the first round.