The NFL Draft for the New Orleans Saints is now only just 4 more days away, and as of this moment: no one has any idea who they will take with their first pick at #27 overall.
Or, at least that's how it appears from the outside looking in.
That's because if the Saints do have somewhat of a general idea of how they plan to address their team "needs" with players from this year's Draft Class, they're aren't putting out any subtle hints that can be taken out of context and twisted around to make it seem like they're leaning towards a certain player or a particular course of action (as in, a "blockbuster" trade deal).
But a careful examination of exactly what general manager Mickey Loomis and head coach Sean Payton have said to reporters throughout their now 11 years together running the Saints organization, will show that they aren't above making the media believe one thing, when they really plan on doing something else.
You know when an NFL organization is successful at disinformation, when it is linked to multiple players.
In this year's upcoming 2018 Draft alone, we've seen the Saints "linked" to Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield, Louisville QB Lamar Jackson, Boston College defensive end Harold Landry, Ohio State defensive end Sam Hubbard, and most recently: controversial LSU defensive end Arden Key.
Do the Saints actually WANT any of these players? Probably.
But so could every other team that's picking either ahead of or behind them in the Draft order, and all the more reason for the Saints organization to make the general football public believe otherwise.
In NFL circles at this time of the year, it's referred to as subterfuge — or if you prefer: "the art of deception".
Being a master of deception requires the usage of "smoke screens", bluffs, misdirection and disinformation; and a large majority of NFL team executives League-wide aren't at all too shy about implementing these type of various methods in the months, weeks, and days leading up to the very day of the draft itself.
Teams will often go to great lengths and sometimes even resort to some rather extreme methods, just so that they can conceal or hide what their true intentions actually are; from not meeting with a prospective player to outright telling him that they’re not interested, only to reverse course on the Opening Night of the draft and select him anyway.
A prime example of this could end up happening once again in 4 days from now, that is assuming we can "read in" to what Payton said last week during an interview with The MMQB's Peter King.
In that interview, Payton told King that he doesn't think any of the prospects are as good as Colts QB Andrew Luck when he came out of Stanford in the 2012 NFL Draft or Eagles QB Carson Wentz from North Dakota State in the 2016 NFL Draft.
And then he added this noteworthy bit of information — or was it intentional DISINFORMATION — stating that he "wouldn't be surprised" if only USC QB Sam Darnold is the one QB in this year's Draft Class that will be "left standing in four or five years."
"I don't see Luck in this draft, and I don't see Carson Wentz, who I liked a lot coming into the draft," Payton said. "I'd feel a little bit uneasy if I were at the top of this draft and I decided I had to have a quarterback. The pressure to get a quarterback is so great in this league, I get that. But we can't create 'em. I wouldn't be surprised if only one of these guys is left standing in four or five years, and if so, I'd guess it would be Sam Darnold."
Payton's comments were viewed as a glowing endorsement of Darnold's capabilities, but were they really?
Sure, Darnold's an outstanding young player with a bright future ahead of him; but does Payton actually believe he's the best QB in this year's class?
Is Payton intentionally spreading that tidbit of disinformation to make every one BELIEVE he thinks that?
Translation of what Payton might actually have been thinking in his interview with King:
If I can make everyone think Darnold is the best QB of the class, he'll very likely get taken at #1 overall by Cleveland, so that one of the other "franchise" QB's (Mayfield or Josh Rosen) that I REALLY like, falls just far enough down the Draft Board for us to make a reasonable move (trading up) to acquire, but perhaps without having to give up as much in return if we had to move even further up the Draft Order.
Is Payton actually "in love" with Josh Rosen?
Maybe he is, and maybe he's not. Or, you can insert the name of which ever QB that he feels is the one to lead the Saints franchise into the next decade and beyond.
But if Rosen "falls" to #8 where Chicago Bears general manager (and former Saints director of player personnel) Ryan Pace is? Don't be all too shocked if Payton makes a call to snag Rosen.
That's all just pure speculation mind you, but for a head coach that used to be an NFL QB himself and who very notably will need to "replace" a guy named Drew Brees very soon, you shouldn't be shocked one single iota when the Saints pull the trigger on a huge trade deal on the 2018 NFL Draft's Opening Night.
Maybe they go after a defensive player that they've NEVER even mentioned by name, instead.
And that's all because the New Orleans Saints as an organization, have turned subterfuge into a form of pure artwork when it comes to this time of the year.
As the line from the old classic song "Heard It Through the Grapevine" (sung by the late, great Marvin Gaye back in 1968) cautions us:
"People say believe half of what you see — and some of none, of what you hear".