Pre-Draft Shenanigans

This week’s NFL Draft is upon us, and the disinformation and misdirection is in full swing. From little white lies to full-metal-jacket whoppers, the untruths are coming from all angles.

Last week Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman claimed he was accepting offers for the Vikings’ No. 1 pick (third overall). Sure, if he can extort something outrageous out of some team desperate to move up. But it will be shocking if the Vikes take anyone other than USC left tackle Matt Kalil.

Which makes No. 4 Cleveland’s secret workout of Kalil a few days ago a particularly glorious exercise in misdirection. Cleveland has pressing needs at running back and receiver, where Trent Richardson and Justin Blackman would seem far better choices. But what’s the fun of admitting that?

And you can bet any team praising the virtues of Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe is secretly pining for Mississippi States’ Fletcher Cox.

There will be some movement in the draft order if previous years are an indication.

Two players who decided not to enter the draft who are highly regarded are USC quarterback Matt Barkley and former Punahou star and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o. One draft expert said that Barkley would be a toss up with Robert Griffin III, and Te’o is a dead heat with Boston College’s Luke Kuechly, who will be the first backer taken.

This Wednesday morning, Star-Advertiser assistant sports editor Curtis Murayama will be on ESPN 1420 AM for the annual draft show. He’s been doing a mock draft since 1971, and is as good a predictor as there is.

* It didn’t take long for new Boston Red Sox skipper Bobby Valentine to land in the bean pot. He publicly called out popular infielder Kevin Youklis for less than complete commitment, only to have Youklis and former MVP Dustin Pedroia take him on in the media.

Pedroia’s statement was particularly interesting: “That might have worked in Japan, but it’s not the way we do things around here.”

If Boston doesn’t make the playoffs, expect Valentine’s stay to be a short one. It is easy to forget how fragile a baseball team can be.

San Francisco has lost closer Brian Wilson to elbow surgery, and now Tim Lincecum seems way off his game with velocity and command issues. If Lincecum regains his form and Barry Zito delivers, the Giants may have one of the best – if not the best – starting rotation in baseball.

* Don’t expect Masters champion Bubba Watson to rip off a bunch of majors right away.

NBC golf analyst and Maui’s own Mark Rolfing was pretty straightforward:

“Bubba will bring a different kind of fan to golf, which is great, but remember Augusta sets up perfectly for him with the wide fairways and minimal rough. If he drives the ball at the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club the way he did at Augusta, Bubba won’t be around for the weekend.”

Rolfing’s willingness to tell it like it is has made him one of golf’s most respected analysts.