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Another tackle off the board


At last, we got down to some serious debating and analyzing.

If it seemed to take a while to reach that point in the 2012 reader mock draft, that's because it did – longer than usual, and longer than might have been expected.

Through five days of this year's reader mock, the readers/writers stuck largely to the chalk, with the result being a couple of high-profile quarterbacks – Andrew Luck of Stanford and Robert Griffin III of Baylor – going off the board first, and three relatively expected choices going off next.

That included the fifth selection, where cornerback Morris Claiborne of Louisiana State went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and perhaps because things had stayed pretty straightforward to that point, we next offered up Justin Blackmon to the St. Louis Rams thinking there would be little debate.

We were wrong.

That's because while there are plenty of people who believe the Oklahoma State wide receiver could go No. 6 overall next month, there are just as many who doubt that will be the case.

As a result, the theories about who the Rams will take strayed far and wide, but a lot of them focused on Iowa left tackle Riley Reiff.

"The Rams have no choice here but to go Riley Reiff," Ryan Rhodes wrote. "Blackmon is the sexy pick here but if you don't have anyone blocking for your QB he can't get the ball to his receivers lying on his back. This draft is too deep at WR for a team like the Rams to be selecting one at six with all the team's needs, especially with them now having 3 picks in the Top 40."

There was quite a bit of support for Reiff, but he was hardly the only left tackle people thought might go to the Rams.

"I still think Jonathan Martin is the better OT over Reiff," Brian L. Jones wrote of Martin, a left tackle from Stanford. "I doubt I'll get any buy-in, but he's my choice."

Martin and Reiff received the most support from those thinking left tackle, but with the Rams finishing with the NFL's second-worst record last season, perhaps it made sense that readers see St. Louis having far more than one need. Those who weren't thinking left tackle for the Rams weren't necessarily thinking wide receiver, either, with James from Jacksonville projecting Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe as the selection.

James admitted the selection would "surprise everyone," then asked "Why" before answering his own query.

"Because their defense gave up a staggering 2,433 rushing yards and 133 first downs by rush last season," he wrote. "They also ranked 31st in the league, surrendering 152.1 rushing yards a game. The Rams were competitive during the '09-'10 season because they gave up only 1,810 rushing yards and 88 first downs to opponents via the run."

Good points, but the thought here is No. 6 is a bit too early for Poe. And while that's a bold statement from someone who recently mocked Whitney Mercilus at No. 7, we'll opt for now to move on from that thought, because the debate over the Rams' selection didn't end on along those lines.

There was also plenty of disagreement over which receiver the Rams might take should they choose to stay on the outside.

"Rams shock the entire world and go with Michael Floyd," Dave Nelson wrote of the Notre Dame wide receiver who is gaining support among readers as a potential early selection. "They see the potential in Blackmon, but like the 6'4" frame that Floyd possesses, and make the first reach pick of the draft.  Just because this happens doesn't mean I see the Jags taking Blackmon, but wide receivers are easy to incorrectly rank compared to what the scouts think."

Bones Ray, meanwhile, was another who just couldn't buy the idea of a Rams team coached by former Titans Head Coach Jeff Fisher going receiver so high.

"When has Fisher ever drafted a receiver in the top ten?" Ray wrote. "He picked up two qb's and a RB. Also in top 20 went D almost every time.  So all of a sudden Fisher has a change of heart? I won't buy that.  So with the 6th pick they go the Kearse route and select Quinton Coples."

Not that every reader hurried to move away from Blackmon. In fact, the receiver who many fans very much hope falls to Jacksonville received enough support here that you wondered if maybe, just maybe, there was as much wishful thinking as drafting going on.

"There's a strong possibility Blackmon just might make it to the seventh pick," jetix wrote somewhat breathlessly.

Well, jetix is getting his/her wish, because for the purpose of this draft, Blackmon will indeed be available. That's because for this draft, we're going with Reiff at No. 6 to the Rams, which makes the 2012 reader mock through six days look like:

1.Indianapolis | Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

2.Washington | Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

3.Minnesota | Matt Kalil, OT, Southern California

4.Cleveland | Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

5.Tampa Bay | Morris Claiborne, CB, Louisiana State

6.St. Louis | Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

That brings us suddenly to the Jaguars. Who will we offer up to Jacksonville? Well, that's probably pretty obvious. We'll throw Blackmon out there, and while there will be those readers/mockers who are thrilled, the sense here is we'll get some debate, too. We'll see.

Have at it.

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