It was all smoke and subterfuge, as usual.
The top of the NFL draft yesterday produced no earth-shaking moments and no jaw-dropping trades. What it produced was simply ... draft picks, business as usual.
Still, it took almost 15 minutes each for the San Francisco 49ers to select Utah quarterback Alex Smith and the Miami Dolphins to take Auburn running back Ronnie Brown with the first two picks of the first round.
In the end, there was little discussion outside either team's headquarters and no serious trade offers, just lots of speculation.
Which meant that all that pre-draft dialogue about who was going where and at what cost was nothing more than lip service, proving once again the draft is nothing if not a study in misinformation.
"There was no talk on the phone with any teams at that time," 49ers coach Mike Nolan said of his 15-minute waltz with the draft clock.
In fact, Nolan admitted that at no point in the entire process did he receive a concrete offer for the right to make the first pick in the draft. There were only discussions.
In Miami, new Dolphins coach Nick Saban suggested he never would have considered trading the second pick -- even if he had received an offer. He wanted Brown, who, he said, "put half of our [LSU] defensive team in the training room for a week every time we played him."
"We always felt this guy was our guy. It was the best fit for us," Saban continued.
After Gruden chose Auburn running back Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, he acknowledged he had a preference for Brown's running mate as early as the Senior Bowl, in which his Tampa staff coached the college all-stars.
Williams said he got the impression at those Senior Bowl workouts that he had a match in Tampa, as well.
Such are the vagaries of the draft.
Nolan said he started leaning toward Smith after a peculiar, second workout he put the quarterback through earlier this month. The 49ers instructed Smith to perform a timed jump-rope exercise, then to spin the ball around various parts of his body in a figure eight. Nonsensical stuff.
"It was awkward," Smith said. "It was very strange. ... I think they wanted to take me out of my comfort zone. They wanted to see how I was going to react."
And how did he react?
"I kept my mouth shut and went to work," he said.
Nolan was impressed.
"I wanted to see if he was ready to go do what we told him to do," the coach said. "Everything in that workout was kind of out of the norm. Not everything, I take that back. Several things."
Rodgers had operated a West Coast offense at Cal similar to the one the 49ers will run. He was considered the quarterback most ready to play. At one point, he was even the favorite to go No. 1. Even though Smith ran his Utah offense out of the shotgun almost exclusively, he got the call.
"Aaron comes from a system that fits," Nolan said. "Who's more athletic and has more upside? Yes, Alex."
The competition between Smith, Rodgers and wide receiver Braylon Edwards of Michigan was all a ruse, too, Nolan admitted. The notion that the 49ers needed a deal with one of the three beforehand was an unintentional slip of the tongue.
"The signability was never a factor," Nolan said. "It was important to utilize that position to try to get something done."
Smith, represented by agent Tom Condon, said he thinks an agreement is close.
"It is something that I don't believe is going to be an issue at all and will get done before camp," Smith said.
Nolan expects Smith will beat out incumbent quarterback Tim Rattay between now and the start of the season. Smith was making no bold proclamations, however.
"If I had it my way, I would [start as a rookie]," he said. "I think Coach Nolan is smart. He's not going to throw me into the fire when it's a bad situation for me."
As odd as the process was in San Francisco, there was one more irregularity yesterday. After making the pick, amid rumors the 49ers still might trade Smith, Nolan admitted he would listen to offers, but only through Saturday.
"I will remain open today to certain discussions," he said. "As the day goes forward, I am less and less likely [to make a trade]. ... It would take an awful lot to do anything."
Saban, meanwhile, was simply infatuated with Brown, 6 feet and 233 pounds, who shared carries with Williams at Auburn.
"We thought he had the best speed, the best hands and also the most power of any player that we could pick at his position or just about any other position," Saban said.
Saban said Brown was the top-rated player on his draft board, even though at one stage he professed an interest in moving up to claim Smith.
And for those who think the Dolphins' selection of Brown will end their slow-kindling discussions with recalcitrant running back Ricky Williams, now officially retired, think again.
"No, why would it?" Saban said, leaving the door wide open.
"Two [backs] are better than one."
ANALYSIS BY KEN MURRAY : SUN STAFF
The top running backs went in a hurry, followed by the best cornerbacks and then the elite pass rushers. The first round of the 70th NFL draft was filled with runs on skill positions, but only two trades as teams settled in with their own picks. This is how it unfolded:
QB Alex Smith, Utah: Absent an offer that bowled them over, the 49ers did the right thing and took the top quarterback. The next step is surrounding Smith with a reasonable supporting cast to turn the team around.
RB Ronnie Brown, Auburn: Coach Nick Saban doesn't have a proven quarterback, so he'll try to build his offense around Brown, a powerful runner with great hands. Saban considered moving, but decided Brown had more value to the team.
WR Braylon Edwards, Michigan: GM Phil Savage resisted the chance to trade down, and gave new quarterback Trent Dilfer another big-play weapon along with TE Kellen Winslow.
RB Cedric Benson, Texas: Needing playmakers on offense, the Bears started with the running game, a good decision in Chicago. Benson, a bruiser, will be a big threat in the red zone.
RB Carnell Williams, Auburn: The Bucs needed a playmaker more than a quarterback of the future. For all the talk about Alex Smith, Williams made more sense for a rebuilding team.
CB Adam Jones, West Virginia: The Titans chose the quickness of Jones over the size of Antrel Rolle to find a replacement for Samari Rolle. Jones is only 5 feet 9, but plays bigger and is an excellent punt returner.
WR Troy Williamson, South Carolina: Even though Mike Williams had more production at Southern California, Williamson was more attractive to the Vikings because of his speed on their Metrodome turf. He has potential to be a big playmaker.
CB Antrel Rolle, Miami: Some teams were leery about Rolle's lack of blazing speed and projected him as a safety. The Cardinals like his press coverage ability.
CB Carlos Rogers, Auburn: Bigger than the departed Fred Smoot, Rogers is a physical corner who can jam receivers at the line. A very good Redskins defense gets better.
WR Mike Williams, USC: For the third straight year, the Lions took a wide receiver in the first round. It's their sixth straight year taking an offensive player. QB Joey Harrington has plenty of targets.
OLB Shawne Merriman, Maryland: The Chargers already play the 3-4, and generated only 29 sacks a year ago. The intense Merriman should become a pass-rushing force on the outside.
OLB Thomas Davis, Georgia: Missing out on Brown, the Panthers eschewed the other top tackles and took a hard-hitting safety they will move to linebacker. Davis fits the Carolina mold.
OLB Derrick Johnson, Texas: The Chiefs targeted Davis and Johnson for defense. Johnson was considered the top outside linebacker in the draft, but was the fourth at his position to go.
DT Travis Johnson, Florida State: Having retained free-agent nose tackle Seth Payne, the Texans found his eventual replacement for their 3-4 defense. Johnson leads a weak tackle class.
DE David Pollack, Georgia: Competitive, explosive and agile, Pollack may give the Bengals what they have lacked -- a legitimate pass rush threat from the defensive line. He is a true playmaker.
DE Erasmus James, Wisconsin: Coach Mike Tice added five new starters on defense in free agency, and gets a pure pass rusher here. Durability could be an issue, however.
OT Alex Barron, Florida State: The Rams' offensive line was a shambles last year and RT Kyle Turley won't be back. Perhaps the best pass blocker in the draft, Barron is going to the right team.
DE Marcus Spears, LSU: The conversion to a 3-4 defense became official when the team snagged Spears. At 6 feet 4 and 307 pounds, he's a perfect 3-4 end.
WR Matt Jones, Arkansas: The Jaguars made the first major reach of the round when they grabbed a quarterback who will move to receiver. Jones ran a 4.37-second, 40-yard dash at the combine to force his way into the first round.
WR Mark Clayton, Oklahoma: Another good player drops to the Ravens. Clayton completes the revamping of the receiving corps and is a nice complement to Derrick Mason.
CB Fabian Washington, Nebraska: Dazzled by Washington's 4.29 speed in the 40, the Raiders traded up from the 26th pick to keep him from going to Green Bay. Washington is the third corner picked by Oakland in four years.
QB Aaron Rodgers, California: Rodgers' fall from the top of the draft finally intersected with the Packers' search for the eventual successor to Brett Favre. The drop gave Rodgers plenty of motivation.
QB Jason Campbell, Auburn: Coach Joe Gibbs wasn't comfortable enough with QB Patrick Ramsey to give him the job at the start of last season, preferring to sign washed-up Mark Brunell. Gibbs showed a lack of confidence in Ramsey again with this pick.
C Chris Spencer, Mississippi: Passing on needs at receiver and defense, the Seahawks traded down three spots to get help in the line. Spencer played only one season at center, moving over from guard.
DT Luis Castillo, Northwestern: The Chargers looked past Castillo's positive steroids test at the combine to take the run-stuffing tackle. Their two first-round picks improved a good defense.
TE Heath Miller, Virginia: A converted quarterback, Miller gives the Steelers their first receiving tight end since Eric Green. He can stretch the field and helps negate the loss of WR Plaxico Burress in the passing game.
G Logan Mankins, Fresno State: The Patriots follow their own board, and losing guard Joe Andruzzi in free agency led them to make this unexciting pick. Mankins played tackle at Fresno.
1 (8) Antrel Rolle, DB, Miami.
2 (44) J.J. Arrington, RB, California.
3 (75) Eric Green, DB, Virginia Tech.
3 (95) Darryl Blackstock, LB, Virginia.
1 (27) Roddy White, WR, UAB.
2 (59) Jonathan Babineaux, DT, Iowa.
3 (90) Jordan Beck, LB, Cal Poly-SLO.
1 (22) Mark Clayton, WR, Oklahoma.
2 (53) Dan Cody, DE, Oklahoma.
2 (64) Adam Terry, OT, Syracuse.
2 (55) Roscoe Parrish, WR, Miami.
3 (86) Kevin Everett, TE, Miami.
1 (14) Thomas Davis, DB, Georgia.
2 (54) Eric Shelton, RB, Louisville.
3 (79) Evan Mathis, G, Alabama.
3 (89) Atyyah Ellison, DT, Missouri.
1 (4) Cedric Benson, RB, Texas.
2 (39) Mark Bradley, WR, Oklahoma.
1 (17) David Pollack, LB, Georgia.
2 (48) Odell Thurman, LB, Georgia.
3 (83) Chris Henry, WR, West Virginia.
1 (3) Braylon Edwards, WR, Michigan.
2 (34) Brodney Pool, DB, Oklahoma.
3 (67) Charlie Frye, QB, Akron.
1 (11) DeMarcus Ware, DE, Troy.
1 (20) Marcus Spears, DE, LSU.
2 (42) Kevin Burnett, LB, Tennessee.
2 (56) Darrent Williams, DB, Oklahoma State.
3 (76) Karl Paymah, DB, Washington State.
3 (97) Domonique Foxworth, DB, Maryland.
3 (101) Maurice Clarett, RB, Ohio State.
1 (10) Mike Williams, WR, Southern California.
2 (37) Shaun Cody, DT, Southern California.
3 (72) Stanley Wilson, DB, Stanford.
1 (24) Aaron Rodgers, QB, California.
2 (51) Nick Collins, DB, Bethune-Cookman.
2 (58) Terrence Murphy, WR, Texas A&M.;
1 (16) Travis Johnson, DT, Florida State.
3 (73) Vernand Morency, RB, Oklahoma State.
1 (29) Marlin Jackson, DB, Michigan.
2 (60) Kelvin Hayden, DB, Illinois.
3 (92) Vincent Burns, DE, Kentucky.
1 (21) Matt Jones, WR, Arkansas.
2 (52) Khalif Barnes, OT, Washington.
3 (87) Scott Starks, DB, Wisconsin.
1 (15) Derrick Johnson, LB, Texas.
3 (99) Dustin Colquitt, P, Tennessee.
1 (2) Ronnie Brown, RB, Auburn.
2 (46) Matt Roth, DE, Iowa.
3 (70) Channing Crowder, LB, Florida.
1 (7) Troy Williamson, WR, South Carolina.
1 (18) Erasmus James, DE, Wisconsin.
2 (49) Marcus Johnson, G, Mississippi.
3 (80) Dustin Fox, DB, Ohio State.
1 (32) Logan Mankins, G, Fresno State.
3 (84) Ellis Hobbs, DB, Iowa State.
3 (100) Nick Kaczur, OT, Toledo.
1 (13) Jammal Brown, OT, Oklahoma.
2 (40) Josh Bullocks, DB, Nebraska.
3 (82) Alfred Fincher, LB, Connecticut.
2 (43) Corey Webster, DB, LSU.
3 (74) Justin Tuck, DE, Notre Dame.
2 (47) Mike Nugent, K, Ohio State.
2 (57) Justin Miller, DB, Clemson.
3 (88) Sione Pouha, DT, Utah.
1 (23) Fabian Washington, DB, Nebraska.
2 (38) Stanford Routt, DB, Houston.
3 (69) Andrew Walter, QB, Arizona State.
3 (78) Kirk Morrison, LB, San Diego State.
1 (31) Mike Patterson, DT, Southern California.
2 (35) Reggie Brown, WR, Georgia.
2 (63) Matt McCoy, LB, San Diego State.
3 (77) Ryan Moats, RB, Louisiana Tech.
1 (30) Heath Miller, TE, Virginia.
2 (62) Bryant McFadden, DB, Florida State.
3 (93) Trai Essex, OT, Northwestern.
1 (19) Alex Barron, OT, Florida State.
2 (50) Ronald Bartell, DB, Howard.
3 (66) Oshiomogho Atogwe, DB, Stanford.
3 (81) Richard Incognito, G, Nebraska.
1 (12) Shawne Merriman, LB, Maryland.
1 (28) Luis Castillo, DT, Northwestern.
2 (61) Vincent Jackson, WR, Northern Colorado.
1 (1) Alex Smith, QB, Utah.
2 (33) David Baas, G, Michigan.
3 (65) Frank Gore, RB, Miami.
3 (94) Adam Snyder, OT, Oregon.
1 (26) Chris Spencer, C, Mississippi.
2 (45) Lofa Tatupu, LB, Southern California.
3 (85) David Greene, QB, Georgia.
3 (98) LeRoy Hill, LB, Clemson.
1 (5) Carnell Williams, RB, Auburn.
2 (36) Barrett Ruud, LB, Nebraska.
3 (71) Alex Smith, TE, Stanford.
3 (91) Chris Colmer, OT, North Carolina State.
1 (6) Adam Jones, DB, West Virginia.
2 (41) Michael Roos, OT, Eastern Washington.
3 (68) Courtney Roby, WR, Indiana.
3 (96) Brandon Jones, WR, Oklahoma.
1 (9) Carlos Rogers, DB, Auburn.
1 (25) Jason Campbell, QB, Auburn.
Houston traded its first-round (No. 13) pick to New Orleans for Saints' first-round (No. 16) pick and 2006 third-round pick. New Orleans selected Jammal Brown, OT, Oklahoma. Houston selected Travis Johnson, DT, Florida State.
Seattle traded its first-round (No. 23) pick to Oakland for Raiders' first-round (No. 26) and fourth-round (No. 105) picks. Oakland selected Fabian Washington, DB, Nebraska. Seattle selected Chris Spencer, C, Mississippi.
Tennessee traded its second-round (No. 37) to Detroit for Lions' second-round (No. 41) and fourth-round (No. 113) picks. Detroit selected Shaun Cody, DT, Southern California. Tennessee selected Michael Roos, OT, Eastern Washington.
Carolina traded its second-round (No. 45) pick from Seattle for Seahawks' second-round (No. 54) and fourth-round (No. 121 and No. 126) picks. Seattle selected Lofa Tatupu, LB, Southern California. Carolina selected Eric Shelton, RB, Louisville.
New England traded its second-round (No. 64) pick to the Ravens for the Ravens' third-round (No. 84), sixth-round (No. 195) and 2006 third-round picks. The Ravens selected Adam Terry, OT, Syracuse. New England selected Ellis Hobbs, DB, Iowa State.
Green Bay traded its third-round (No. 89) to Carolina for Panthers' fourth-round (No. 115 and No. 126) picks. Carolina selected Atiyyah Ellison, DT, Missouri.
Philadelphia traded its third-round (No. 94) pick to San Francisco for 49ers' fourth-round (No. 102) and sixth-round (No. 175) picks. San Francisco selected Adam Snyder, OT, Oregon.
Wide receivers 14
Running backs 9
Defensive ends 8
Offensive tackles 8
Defensive tackles 7
Offensive guards 4
Tight ends 3