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A decisive majority


The readers again have spoken.

This time, on Day 3 of the 2011 mock draft, they did so with a surprisingly decisive majority.

With quarterback Blaine Gabbert of Missouri going to Carolina at No. 1 overall and cornerback Patrick Peterson of LSU going next to Denver, we moved to Day 3 with the senior writer throwing out Auburn quarterback Cam Newton as the possible No. 3 overall selection to Buffalo.

The readers didn't completely hate that selection.

But they didn't quite love it, either.

"I think this is a major reach for him," Matt McDonald wrote, "but he is what (Bills Head Coach) Chan Gailey will think he needs, a potential franchise signal-caller."

McDonald was among a double-digit contingent who selected Newton for the Bills, and while that was a significant number, many of those agreed that while the Bills may go in that direction, it wasn't the prudent selection.

There were also plenty of readers who believed the Bills need to address the defensive line, a theory that has a lot of merit. There were mentions of Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers – though surprisingly few mentions considering Bowers' status as practically a Top-5 lock – and Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley received some mention.

"Bowers is a sacking machine," 1ofthemanyjfans wrote after considering Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller (pictured). "Many wonder about him (Bowers) being a one-year wonder. His freshman year he wasn&39;t even starting but still did pretty good for a freshman. His sophomore year, he got a knee injury and missed three games and was limited in another. Just don&39;t think it was all the way healed.

"Final answer: Da&39;Quan Bowers to the Bills."

As for Fairley, he has received far less support on the first three days than might have been expected in January. Apparently, reports of him sliding a few spots in the eyes of some of the top teams have influenced how the readers are approaching him.

But while the readers weren't particularly high on Fairley or Bowers, the same wasn't true of Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. His support had been strong at Nos. 1 and 2 earlier in the week, and most of those who believed Buffalo in need of BABG – Best Available Big Guy – threw their support behind Dareus.

"Dareus has the flexibility to play any position on the d-line in a 3-4," Geoffrey Harris wrote, calling Dareus the best available player at No. 3. "He has the lower body strength to anchor the middle and the speed and quickness to cross over a tackle at the five technique."

By the end of Day 3, though, more people thought the Bills' decision would come down not to BABG, but to a choice between a seat-filling, dynamic quarterback and a pass-rushing, impact-making linebacker for their 3-4 defensive scheme.

That meant Newton or Miller.

"I think they will take Cam Newton just for the sheer upside and for ticket sales," Michael Morgan wrote, adding, "They were hurting last year....bad. Like 2009 Jags bad. They will pick him because they know that while (Ryan) Fitzpatrick is serviceable, he is not the long term answer. You can&39;t base your upcoming season on losing every game to attempt to get 'Lucky' next year."

Morgan wasn't the only one who hit Day 3 with a clever reference to the Bills waiting for Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, but the overwhelming – and relatively surprising – trend by day's end was the support for Miller, the player widely considered the draft's best linebacker.

"Von Miller is their guy here," Trent Brandvold wrote, adding, "This draft is deep with QBs. They&39;ll grab one later. He offers immediate help to that defense."

The editor spent some time reconsidering Miller at the No. 3 spot, waffling a bit in the process. History has shown No. 3 is a bit high for outside linebacker, but Jack Destar made a good point about the effectiveness of Clay Matthews perhaps causing some teams to feel better about the position so early.

"Von Miller is the pick here," Destar wrote, adding, "He fits a 3-4 scheme perfectly and is a freak of an athlete (ran a 4.49 at his pro day). He has 27.5 sacks in his last two years even with being out for three games this last year, which also clearly shows that he is not a one-hit wonder as he led the nation last year with 17 sacks.

"With Clay Matthews being so dominant this last year, Von Miller should see his stock soar."

There's probably something to that, and in a draft filled with players who have performed at a high level for a relatively short time, Miller doing so for longer can't hurt him, so with Miller at No. 3, the 2011 reader mock draft after three days looks like this:

No. 1 | Carolina | Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri

No. 2 | Denver | Patrick Peterson, CB, Louisiana State

No. 3 | Buffalo | Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M

Up next is Cincinnati at No. 4 overall. The editor will throw out Georgia wide receiver A.G. Green here, but it's a throw-it-out-and-get-out-of-the-way selection, because this draft remains pretty wide open.

Great job so far, and the response has been pretty overwhelming.

Back to it.

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