As the Sammy Watkins rumor mill churns into overdrive, the Detroit Lions seem more and more likely to make a play to grab the wide receiver out of Clemson. But their public interest in Watkins is puzzling at best, self-destructive at worst.
As Zac Snyder pointed out at SideLion Report, the Lions' obvious interest in Watkins has not been Martin Mayhew's style in the past:
The Lions had a serious crush on Jahvid Best prior to the 2010 draft and did everything they could to hide their interest.
Just a year later, post-draft reports came out that the Lions had tried to trade into the top five to draft Patrick Peterson – a shock even to those who closely followed the team leading up to the 2011 draft.
So if Mayhew has effectively hid his man crushes in the past, why is his love affair with Watkins so public this time around? Here are a few scenarios, none of which make any sense.
1. The Lions are building up the most elaborate smokescreen
Usually when a team makes their "intentions" so clear, it's a sure sign that they aren't being truthful. So maybe the Lions just aren't that into Watkins. But this makes no sense at all. Why waste all the resources of bringing Watkins in, having Bill Ford Jr. meet him and asking his former teammates about him if you don't plan on drafting a guy who has no chance of falling to you anyway?
A smokescreen accomplishes nothing other than drive the price up for a trade up. So if the Lions are being disingenuous about their interest in Watkins to trade up for another player, I think they are misguided in their efforts. They will only continue to drive up the price of trading up with this supposed interest.
The best theory I heard from anyone was from Twitter friend Aaron Meckes of SideLion Report:
Put more simply, if the Atlanta Falcons hear the Lions are trying to trade up for the No. 2 pick, they won't get into a bidding war with the Lions because they think Watkins, not Jadeveon Clowney, will be the pick. However, that would be an extremely risky move for Atlanta. If they allowed Clowney to fall to the Jacksonville Jaguars at three, a bunch of other teams may jump into the mix to grab the defensive end at a now slightly discounted price (or the Jaguars may just take him).
In the end, the smokescreen theory doesn't hold much water, unless the Lions are channeling their inner Frank Underwood and developing some sort of five-steps-ahead-of-everyone-else scheme.
2. The Lions' interest in Watkins is real and Mayhew doesn't understand economics
I am not an economist myself, but if Introduction to Economics has taught me anything, it's that when supply is low (let's say... only one elite wide receiver) and demand is high (for example, a front office drooling all over a prospect), the price tends to be very high.
The Lions' interest in Watkins loses any sort of leverage they have for a trade up. It seems more and more likely that the Lions will have to trade up to the second pick in the draft to grab Watkins, which will likely cost them at least a second-round pick. By making their interests known, the St. Louis Rams (which have the second pick) may charge more, knowing the Lions are madly in love with Watkins. Additionally, by letting the other franchises know of their intentions, they could very well find themselves trying to outbid a different team that is equally tantalized by Watkins. If the Lions had hid their intentions, that may have never been an issue.
3. The Lions already have a deal in place and are just doing their due diligence for Watkins
I haven't actually seen anyone with this theory, and it's probably because it makes no sense. No team in their right mind would make a trade agreement this early in draft season, especially when there is so much uncertainty surrounding even the first pick in the draft. But, to me, this theory makes just about as much sense as the other two.
So what are the Lions doing? I have no idea. But I'd love to hear some of your crazy conspiracy theories.