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And so we begin . . .


Believe it or not, it's that time of year again.

And like it or not, because the time of year is early March, it's time to start preparing for the 2012 NFL Draft. In NFL front offices, that means hours spent watching film, readjusting draft boards and amassing frequent flyer miles to get to Pro Days in distant collegiate outposts.

Around, it means the second annual reader mock draft.

It's hard to call something that started last year a tradition, so we'll just call it our silly little March/April thing. Or maybe you call it something worse. Whatever. Enough readers called it enough fun to merit doing it again.

Just what is it? Well, in case you missed it – and there were plenty of you angry enough over the NFL lockout at this time last year that maybe you did miss it – here is the gist, and because the gist is pretty simple, we won't take long explaining the concept.

Each day, senior writer John Oehser – that's me – will throw out a name or two or three as a suggestion for the team "on the clock" that day. Because of my lazy nature, more often than not it will be one name suggested, with the idea being that the readers in the comment section of the site will debate that name and offer their own ideas for that selection.

The following day, I'll read through the comment section and compile votes. Many days, the highest vote-getter will be the selection. Some days, I'll use veto power. Sometimes, that will be because logic must prevail and other days, it will be because it's just time to go with a gut feeling.

By the end of the draft, we'll have 32 selections. Some may be right and most will be wrong, but along the way we'll have fun, have some pretty solid debate and might together move a little closer to having an idea of what might happen come April 26. That's Day One of the 2012 NFL Draft.

Last year, the readers got 27 of 32 first-round selections. That's not bad. They also got four selections exactly right – offensive tackle Tyron Smith of Southern California to Dallas, offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo of Boston College to Indianapolis, offensive tackle Gabe Carimi of Wisconsin to Chicago and offensive lineman Derek Sherrod of Mississippi State to Green Bay.

Hey, the readers know their offensive linemen.

We'll say up front that the reader mock has flaws. We're starting about seven weeks from Draft Night, and much will change in the coming weeks. There almost certainly will be a trade at No. 2 with St. Louis and perhaps Cleveland or Washington or someone else. For the purposes of this draft, we're going to trade Washington's No. 6 selection for the No. 2 selection, and leave the rest of the first round as it is now.

That may or may not be how it plays out. We'll see.

A final note on the logistics of this thing: we're starting a bit earlier than necessary anticipating a few days off between here and there for free-agency news, etc. Most likely, it will wrap up the week of the draft.

So, finally, here we are: time to throw out the name for the first overall selection of the 2012 NFL Draft – and this year, the choice long has been pretty obvious. We'll throw out Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck to the Indianapolis Colts.

There likely won't be much debate on this, and the same likely will be true for the second selection. That's the nature of this year's draft, and it's almost certain that the uncertainty will come later rather than sooner.

For now, have at it. Have fun, and before we begin, let's take a look at last year's 2011 reader mock draft, and how the draft eventually played out.

Position | Team | reader pick | Actual pick

No. 1 | Carolina | Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri | Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
No. 2 | Denver | Patrick Peterson, CB, Louisiana State | Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M
No. 3 | Buffalo | Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M | Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
No. 4 | Cincinnati | Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson | A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
No. 5 | Arizona | Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama | Patrick Peterson, CB, Louisiana State
No. 6 | Cleveland | A.J. Green, WR, Georgia | Julio Jones, WR, Georgia (Atlanta-trade)
No. 7 | San Francisco | Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina | Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri
No. 8 | Tennessee | Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn | Jake Locker, QB, Washington
No. 9 | Dallas | Tyron Smith, OT, Southern California | Tyron Smith, OT, Southern California
No. 10 | Washington | Cam Newton, QB, Auburn | Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri (Jacksonville-trade)
No. 11 | Houston | Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska | J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
No. 12 | Minnesota | Jake Locker, QB, Washington | Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State
No. 13 | Detroit | Nate Solder, OT, Colorado | Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
No. 14 | St. Louis | Julio Jones, WR, Alabama | Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
No. 15 | Miami | Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama | Mike Pouncey, G, Florida
No. 16 | Jacksonville | Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue | Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue (Washington-trade)
No. 17 | New England | J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin | Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
No. 18 | San Diego | Cameron Jordan, DE, California | Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois
No. 19 | New York Giants | Mike Pouncey, G, Florida | Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
No. 20 | Tampa Bay | Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri | Adrian Clayborn, OLB, Iowa
No. 21 | Kansas City | Adrian Clayborn, OLB, Iowa | Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor (Cleveland-trade)
No. 22 | Indianapolis | Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College | Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
No. 23 | Philadelphia | Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado | Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor
No. 24 | New Orleans | Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois | Cameron Jordan, DE, California
No. 25 | Seattle | Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas | James Carpenter, OT, Alabama
No. 26 | Baltimore | Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland | Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
No. 27 | Atlanta | Justin Houston, LB, Georgia | Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
No. 28 | New England | Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State | Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama (New Orleans-trade)
No. 29 | Chicago | Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin | Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
No. 30 | New York Jets | Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor | Muhammed Wilkerson, DE, Temple
No. 31 | Pittsburgh | Aaron Williams, CB, Texas | Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
No. 32 | Green Bay | Derek Sherrod, OL, Mississippi State | Derek Sherrod, OL, Mississippi State
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