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Back in a big way


We're ba-a-a-a-a-a-ck.

And in the case of the 2012 reader mock draft, we came back on a day of some pretty serious deba-a-a-a-a-a-ting, too.

With moderator/writer in Palm Beach napping and tanning at the NFL Owners Meetings during the early part of the week, we took a scheduled few days off in the reader mock, returning to find the Philadelphia Eagles on the clock at No. 15.

The Eagles are a tough team to accurately mock, because as reader/mocker Gary Cislo noted head coach Andy Reid never fails to surprise mockers, but because it's what we do, we offered Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe here for the selection.

That had some traction, and not because your humble moderator suggested it.

"The Eagles' 'wide-nine' scheme is scary enough with Trent Cole and Jason Babin coming off the edges," Mike Cowan wrote. "If you can throw a disruptive player like Dontari Poe in the middle, watch out. I'm actually surprised he is still available in our reader mock and could certainly see the Eagles making him their pick."

Wrote Ryan Nearhood, "Dontari Poe is the logical choice. The Eagles need some weapons on defense to get back to being a playoff team, and Poe could really help them here."

Others agreed with the position, but not the player.

A huge reason for that is that Poe likely will be one of the most-debated prospects during the coming month. On the one hand, his performance at the NFL Scouting Combine in late February will almost certainly intrigue teams. On the other, he didn't quite perform at that level in college.

"I'm still not very high on Poe as a prospect, and really think that he's one of those guys who's in for a surprise fall into the 20's on draft day," "J-School" Corby wrote. "I don't think he fits Andy Reid's defense, either."

Corby agreed with several readers who saw Fletcher Cox of Mississippi State as a more likely defensive tackle option.

"He's definitely a guy who needs to be in the right scheme to be successful, and I think Reid's scheme is one of the few that suits him very well," Corby wrote.

The best debate/discussion of the day involved the position right behind defensive tackle, with Boston College middle linebacker Luke Kuechly continuing to be a favorite among reader/mockers.

Kuechly without question is one of the more productive collegiate players among the first-round possibilities, and in this draft – as could be the case come late April – what's hurting his stock the most is playing a position that has been devalued on draft day in recent seasons.

But we're getting to that point in the draft where teams will feel comfortable taking a middle 'backer, and that spawned a debate over whether maybe, just maybe, the Eagles would be compelled to take Kuechly even after acquiring Demeco Ryans from Houston earlier this month.

"Looking at the Eagles I figure they've got to address the linebacker position that killed their defense last year," Frank Eckenrode wrote. "That points me to Kuechly out of BC. Tackle machine. Quick enough to cover decent tight ends. Perfect linebacker compliment to the 'wide-nine' style they play up front. Book it!"

Michael Morgan was booking nothing.

"They traded for Demeco Ryans – probably not with going to go that high in the 1st for a MLB with their current lineup at linebacker," he wrote.

With that in mind, a few readers ventured outside to allow North Carolina linebacker Zach Brown to make his first appearance on the reader mock radar.

"I'm gonna go somewhere completely different with this pick," J._Mart Burkland wrote of Brown, adding, "He is fast and good in coverage. The Eagles' biggest problem on defense last year was over-pursuing by their young linebacking corps. Demeco Ryans is there now and he will be able to help mentor the other linebackers and maybe keep them from over-pursuing but with Brown next to him their linebackers would be much improved."

Brian L. Jones added, "Have to agree with J-Mart on this pick. They're set at the mike with DeMeco. Philadelphia's defensive scheme is all wrong for them to choose Upshaw or Poe, for that matter. Come on O-Man, you know it's gotta be Zach!"

Jones' urging aside, we weren't yet sold, and while much of the day's focus was understandably on an Eagles defense that struggled much of last season there was a strong argument made for giving quarterback Michael Vick and a potent offense a bit more potency.

Morgan noted that Stanford tight end Coby Fleener made sense, and while Gene Paul Barber veered us momentarily off course by glancing back to the Jaguars at No. 7 and chanting wildly "Coples, Coples, Coples," we did the readers a service by staying on course. Fred Barnes did, too, and suggested the Eagles might surprise everyone and add a suddenly re-emerging wide receiver Alshon Jeffery of South Carolina at No. 15.

"The Eagles may wait until later to address this spot, but there's a line of thinking that says they need to do something more offensively to give them an edge in their division," Barnes wrote.

It's a line of thinking that makes sense, as were many lines on Day 15, but the ones that made the most sense involved improving the Eagles' defense. Eventually, Teal put it in pretty good perspective.

"The Eagles won't take Kuechly after trading for DeMeco Ryans," Teal wrote. "They'll address defensive tackle, and while Poe is very enticing, Fletcher Cox is a better fit for their wide-nine scheme as a guy who can really get up the field.  Poe has done some amazing things in the postseason, but his tape will surely have questions, as will his pass-rushing ability.

"The Eagles love pass rushers, and Cox is the best one left on the interior."

Made sense to us, which meant once we finally got in out of the sun and back to the reader mock, the first 15 selections 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

7.Jacksonville | Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

8.Miami | Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

9.Carolina | Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

10.Buffalo | David DeCastro, G, Stanford

11.Kansas City | Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

12.Seattle | Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina

13.Arizona | Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

14.Dallas | Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

15.Philadelphia | Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State

That brings us to the New York J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets at No. 16, and really, who knows what in the world the Jets will do these days? We'll throw out Courtney Upshaw of Alabama because the Jets need a 3-4 outside backer and because Melvin Ingram is already off the board.

Have at it.

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