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End in sight


Where we are now is all in the interpretation.

Are we sprinting to the finish of the 2012 reader mock draft? Or staggering?

Maybe straggling is the better word.

Whatever you call it – and whether the incentive of it being Friday has anything to do with it or not – we now have entered the let's-get-to-the-end-already phase of the 'ol reader mock, and we're certainly close enough we can make it happen.

To do that, we're going to ask the readers to rattle off four selections over the weekend. We ask a lot, but like any good coach, we don't ask anything we don't ask of ourselves.

But before we get to that, we need to take care of the task at hand, and with the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots on the clock, that meant taking reader selections for a pair of teams that perennially meet their preseason playoff expectations.

First up was the Patriots, and after a season in which they often were unstoppable on offense but often stopped no one on defense, it's unsurprising that the readers when discussing the Patriots took on a defensive tone.

We had offered up Southern California defensive tackle Nick Perry to the Patriots, and this was a case where it was clear quickly the readers agreed.

"New England - Nick Perry, DE," Joshua wrote. "As has been cited earlier, they have a weak front seven that needs some attention. Perry is a decent start. They can continue this trend in a few more picks with Alan Branch out of Clemson as well."

We'll file away the Branch selection for the weekend, perhaps, but at this selection Brian L. Jones asked a question many readers asked.

"How can the Patriots not go with Nick Perry?" Jones asked. "Yeah, they picked up a couple of DE's in FA, but Nick Perry is without a doubt the best player left on the board at this point. And he fills the need. My guess is New England is assuming Perry will be gone by this point and are positioning themselves to grab (Wisconsin center Peter) Konz.

"But since Perry is still here in our mock, he goes to the Patriots."

Even Matt, perhaps relieved at not yet having to eat his own shoes, paid the moderator the closest thing to a complement that he had a right to expect.

"It's not too often I agree with whoever you guys offer up, but in the case of Nick Perry, I'd have to say you're right on target," Matt wrote.

So, flush with the rare feeling of happy consensus, we moved on to the Packers.

Like the Patriots, the Packers appear in major need of defense, and there were those who believed that a second consecutive defensive tackle would go off the board here.

"The Packers' primary need is defensive, and not on the line but at linebacker – yet another team that has done nothing about this 'need' during FA," Jones wrote. "They could reach for Zach Brown, LB, NC, but I don't see them doing that. (Boise State linebacker) Shea McClellin is even more of a reach.  How can you pass on (Michigan State defensive tackle) Jerel Worthy?"

Many readers believed the 'Pack would indeed pass on Worthy, but perhaps only to solidify the offensive line with what likely would be a popular choice. It was with that in mind that many readers, including Fred Barnes, offered up Konz here.

Aside from Konz, there was quite a bit of bouncing around among the readers at No. 28. Matt threw out Central Florida cornerback Josh Robinson, while Teal didn't think McClellin was near the reach Jones believed.

"He is an appropriate size for a true 3-4 OLB, has a great motor, and is a high character guy - all things Ted Thompson will look for," Teal wrote. "He's been generally thought of as a second-round pick, but a lot of people are saying the Packers love him (which should be taken with a grain of salt), and pass rushers always get pushed up a bit."

In the end, we decided to go with Konz, maybe more for the home-state angle than anything, and that meant after 28 selections the 2012 reader mock draft looks 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

16.New York Jets | Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

17.Cincinnati | Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

18.San Diego | Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia

19.Chicago | Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois

20.Tennessee | Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

21.Cincinnati | Mark Barron, SS, Alabama

22.Cleveland | Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama

23.Detroit | Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor

24.Pittsburgh | Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis

25.Denver| Michael Brockers, DT, Louisiana State

26.Houston | Don't'a Hightower, LB, Alabama

27.New England | Nick Perry, DE, New England

28.Green Bay | Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin

All right. What did we say about wrapping up, and getting to the finish? So, rapid fire now: We're going Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler to the Ravens at No. 29. Wide receiver Stephen Hill of Georgia Tech to the 49ers at No. 31. Robinson goes to the Patriots at No. 31, with Stanford tight end Coby Fleener to the Giants at 32.

Yes, class, that's a lot of homework for the weekend. That's the bad news. The good news is come Monday, exams are over and school lets out. Then, you can do whatever it is you do with your free time. I fear that could be doing mock drafts of your own for fun, but hey, to each his own.

Have at it.

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