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Hunger for a quarterback


It's safe to say the reader/mockers were a little distracted on Day 13.

Shoot, who wasn't?

With the NFL and Jaguars world reacting to the verdicts in BountyGate – and, oh yes, also awaiting the decision on a certain other somewhat high-profile matter – participation in the reader mock draft understandably slowed a touch with the Arizona Cardinals on the clock.

No worries. We still have 19 selections remaining.

Besides, all was not even close to lost, because while the Tim Tebow debate raged on elsewhere those in the reader mock draft got down to some serious debating on the Cardinals' selection and not unexpectedly steered the pick in a better direction than our original offering.

Remember? Those who can think back a day will recall that we offered up Melvin Upshaw of Alabama to the Cardinals on the rationale that the team needed pass-rush help.

It wasn't seen as a horrible selection, though some readers were skeptical for the simple reason that the Cardinals' needs might lie elsewhere.

"I think Upshaw might be a reach here," Frank Eckenrode wrote. "My pick here would actually be (Stanford offensive tackle Jonathan) Martin. I figured him to be a pick in the teens and Levi Brown isn't the second coming of Toni Boselli. I think Martin is safe here and could plug in right away if you need him to at either tackle position."

While a certain Mr. Boselli likely is happy to hear he's thought of more highly than Brown, Martin perhaps was happy to see he was finally getting respect from the reader/mockers. Martin, considered by some analysts a Top 10 selection, had been our offering for selections twice earlier this week, but each time failed to gain enough support to be the actual selection.

On Day 13, the push was far stronger.

That was primarily because many readers still don't feel the Cardinals believe in offensive tackle Levi Brown. The team recently re-signed the veteran left tackle, but did so at a reduced rate, and many believe the team will see Martin as the future.

"Martin," Joshua wrote. "All the way. This is a slam dunk pick for them."

Brian L. Jones was on board with Martin, too, writing, "I believe the Cards think they might be able to get a quality QB in Rounds 2 or 3, but they have to take Martin at No. 13."

Jones' response hinted at the day's greatest debate, and one overlooked while making our initial offering – whether or not the Cardinals enter the draft needing a quarterback.

Ryan Tannehill, the quarterback from Texas A&M, has the earmarks of becoming the key player in the draft. With Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III expected to be off the board at 1-2, Tannehill is believed by many to be the only other quarterback worth a first-round selection. Some believe that will mean him being selected in the Top 10, and Jaguars General Gene Smith is on record saying he hopes that will increase the trade value for the Jaguars at No. 7.

For the purposes of this mock, though, Tannehill has slipped. And many readers believe that considering the lack of consensus regarding Kevin Kolb, the Cardinals may not pass on Tannehill.

"Tannehill not being off the board yet is the only issue I see here," Michael Morgan wrote. "I say they pick him up. The No. 13 pick will leave low risk-high reward on the amount of money dedicated to the guy and if he isn't the prospect you thought he was you can try again later with the rookie wage scale. The guy is a Top 10 pick in the draft as far as anyone can tell right now. Him sitting here means he is gobbled up by the QB-hungry Cardinals."

That was a popular line of thought, and though our initial offering of Upshaw was less popular, the Alabama defensive end did get some support.

"Martin seems to be a slightly higher-caliber player at a slightly more important need, but it's tough to find a fit as perfect as Upshaw would be in their system," Fred Barnes wrote. "I'll side with Oehser and go with Upshaw in the closest of calls."

That was sort of how it went for a while on Day 13, with a lot of bounce-around debate and a lot of it involving Martin, but in the end, Martin lost out again – this time to the idea that in a quarterback-starved draft the best player at that position just isn't likely to slip much further.

"Tannehill to the Cardinals," JamesfromJacksonville wrote. "The Cardinals are a quarterback away from a Super Bowl berth. Since RGIII and Luck will be long gone by the time the Cardinals pick, Tannehill will be the obvious choice for teams looking to draft a quarterback."

While the quarterback-away-from-a-Super-Bowl-berth line may be a reach, it's very possible the Cardinals at least think that's a possibility, so with Tannehill going here the 2012 reader mock draft after 13 selections 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

That brings us to the Dallas Cowboys at No. 14. We're going to give Martin a rest today, and throw out Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe here. The Cowboys seem to have a need on the defensive front, and considering Poe's combine performance, he just feels like a Cowboys selection if he falls this far.

Have at it.

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