JACKSONVILLE – Talk about your competitive starts.
If it was a close call you wanted – if it's an old-fashioned, knock-down, drag-out debate that gets you geeked up for the NFL Draft – then after Day One of the jaguars.com 2014 reader mock draft, consider yourself pretty close to prepared.
If the start of this thing is any indication, it's going to be a wild month.
Perhaps it's not surprising that the first day of this year's reader mock was a wild, debatable affair. After all, with a month left before the 2014 NFL Draft the real thing is anything but decided.
All are being bandied about by national analysts as the potential No. 1 overall selection, so it's no surprise that when jaguars.com readers began their bandying those were the names being well … bandied.
If it wasn't surprising that the No. 1 selection came down to those three, what was a bit of a surprise was a few of the selections on the fringes of that core.
"With the first pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans select... Sammy Watkins, wide receiver, Clemson," reader/mocker Jaguarrior wrote, later admitting that he chose Watkins "mostly to be different."
"Yay for diversity," Jaguarrior wrote.
While Jaguarrior basked in the cleverness that is he, reader/mocker jizzy predicted the Texans would shock draftniks and analysts by going in another direction and selecting Auburn left tackle Greg Robinson.
That was pretty much it for the preliminaries, with the bulk of the debate centering on whether or not the Texans will focus on one of two highly regarded quarterbacks – Manziel of Texas A&M and Bortles of Central Florida – or Clowney, a defensive end from South Carolina widely regarded as the most-talented player in the draft.
Manziel, a.k.a., Johnny Football, got more than his share of support, with some of the logic stemming from the reasoning that the Texans couldn't pass up the home-state kid.
"Manziel to the Texans," reader/mocker Jason Nored wrote, and while his stance featured more brevity than explanation, he wasn't alone in his view.
"Houston should probably take Manziel," reader/mocker Brad wrote. "He'll put butts in seats and obviously the kid can play. I think Johnny Football takes the cake at No. 1."
Others agreed with the home-state theme.
"The NFL is a business and Manziel is the most marketable prospect plus plays in a position of need and is from Texas," reader/mocker Atkabua wrote. "Texan fans want this and I am sure Texan ownership wants this too."
The idea that Manziel is marketable in Texas isn't ridiculous, but the guess here is it won't be the overriding factor. Besides, when it came to Day 1 of the reader mock, Manziel ran a relatively distant third in the voting behind Bortles and Clowney.
Reader/mocker CaribJag eventually came to the conclusion that he was going with Clowney, but not before offering up a long scenario that began with the notion that the Texans would trade the No. 1 overall selection "for the Jags' (No. 3 overall selection) and the Culligan girl."
"Mass hysteria on the streets of Jacksonville leads to violent riots," he wrote.
While it's likely in CaribJag's scenario that the violent riots actually would be part of the mass hysteria rather than leading to it, many readers focused on Clowney's ability as a pass rusher and his status as perhaps the draft's best talent as being simply too tempting for the Texans to pass.
"Houston makes the only pick they can justify making and takes Clowney No. 1," reader/mocker Sam Cairns wrote. "Hands down he's the best player in the draft."
Reader/mocker Chris Walker agreed.
"Clowney is not only the biggest talent in the draft, but he fits a huge need," Walker wrote. "It's a no-brainer to me."
Walker's pick was based on the idea that Clowney filled a need as an edge rusher. The notion sparked a seemingly endless debate about whether or not the Texans' J.J. Watt was an edge rusher or just very, very good at being another kind of defensive end, but if the Great Edge Rusher Debate threatened to send Day One off in an unsalvageable direction, it alas did not.
In fact, the Day One eventually veered back into the direction not of home-state hero or edge rusher, but of a guy who looks the part of an NFL quarterback and a guy who many readers believe will be the No. 1 selection overall.
"Bortles is the pick here," reader/mocker Infamous wrote, with reader/mocker Jags writing, "I have officially decided the Houston Texans take Blake Bortles QB University Central Florida."
Well, if it's official, then it's official, so with the No. 1 overall selection in the jaguars.com 2014 reader mock draft, the Houston Texans indeed select Bortles. That won't sit well with many reader/mockers, but what did you expect after a wild first day? Widespread happiness? Contentment?
Not in this draft. Not on Day One and likely not on Day Two, either, but the draft goes on with the St. Louis Rams at No. 2. There, we'll offer Clowney, a pick that likely will throw a wrench into many because many believe the Rams will trade the selection.
So, remember the rule about no trades in this mock, and do the best you can.
And have at it.