We'll start today by giving the readers some credit.
Because we did this last week, some might say we're going a bit too far in reader praise, but considering the circumstances facing the jaguars.com 2011 reader mock draft Wednesday, some extra lauding is worth mentioning.
This was, after all, Day 17 – the day after Day 16.
And with Day 16 being a day of huge interest and participation with the Jaguars selecting Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan, the readers could have been excused for slacking off a bit with New England on the clock at No. 17.
Didn't happen. Not even close.
The number of comments naturally fell off substantially, but they stayed at pre-Jaguars Day levels. The one thing they didn't do Wednesday was give the senior writer much of a break, with a razor-thin margin between the top-mentioned players.
We'll tell you early on that it came down to a couple of defensive ends, but the overriding theme on the day was that the readers find the Patriots a very hard team to prognosticate on draft day.
Join the club.
The Patriots are indeed a notoriously tough team to handicap before the draft, but if there was a consensus for the readers Wednesday it was that Bill Belichick and Co. were mostly likely to look along the offensive or defensive front.
And if the Patriots go offensive front, the readers believe that will mean one of two players:
One is Boston College left tackle Anthony Castonzo.
"He&39;s an athletic tackle – big, local to the area, comes from a pro-style college system, fills a need and provides value," mij420 wrote, adding, "(Quarterback Tom) Brady is still their most important investment, and the Pats don&39;t need a super-strong guy to move D-lines and open holes for the running game.
"They need a fast guy to . . . buy time for the passing game."
The other is Florida guard Mike Pouncey.
"Who is the Patriots' right guard?" Joseph wrote, adding, "Dan Connolly! If you have heard the name then he hasn&39;t done his job, and he hasn&39;t. Pouncey is the BAP and fits a need. Since they can't trade down they take him here, like the Jags did with Alualu."
Those thoughts make some sense, but not enough for the senior writer to overrule the overwhelming majority of readers who figure there are still too many quality defensive ends on the board for the Patriots not to address that position.
Considering the amount of support Cameron Jordan – a defensive end from California – received with the Jaguars on the clock at No. 16, it was easy to assume he would receive big-time mention for New England, too. That was particularly true considering Jordan's reputation as a 3-4 defensive end.
That assumption proved correct.
"As people have said, this is a tough one to gauge," Teal wrote, adding, "I think it will come down to three players: Jordan, (Wisconsin defensive end J.J.) Watt, and a bit of a shocker in (Temple defensive tackle Muhammad) Wilkerson. However, from what I have read and heard, Cameron Jordan should have the edge. He&39;s versatile, which the Pats love. He has great work ethic and character, another plus. And he&39;s just a force, un-blockable at times (Senior Bowl). "Another thought to consider: Jordan is projected as a 3-4 or 4-3 end, and the Patriots scheme is actually somewhere in between, meaning Jordan should be just fine."
Good points, and nearly enough to make Jordan the selection.
But not quite.
"I will give the Patriots J.J. Watt at Pick No. 17," Kevin Grab wrote, adding, "We know that New England is the textbook example of a BAP drafting team, and I think that Watt, Cameron Jordan, and maybe (Missouri outside linebacker) Aldon Smith and Castonzo as well as (Wisconsin offensive tackle) Carimi are the BAP&39;s here. Watt seems to be to be receiving a bit more regard in the media right now with Jordan being right there with him. Ponder also would have to be a consideration as well concerning BAP Tom Brady notwithstanding, but the Pats get a fixture at either end spot on their 3-4 front with the former Badger."
Grab lost a bit of cache for bringing up Christian Ponder on a day when many readers were still simmering over the senior writer not selecting him for the Jaguars the day before, but the overall reader argument for Watt was enough to make him the selection.
So, with the No. 17 overall selection of the jaguars.com 2011 reader mock draft, the Patriots select Watt, making the board look like:
No. 1 | Carolina | Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
No. 2 | Denver | Patrick Peterson, CB, Louisiana State
No. 3 | Buffalo | Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M
No. 4 | Cincinnati | Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
No. 5 | Arizona | Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
No. 6 | Cleveland | A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
No. 7 | San Francisco | Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
No. 8 | Tennessee | Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
No. 9 | Dallas | Tyron Smith, OT, Southern California
No. 10 | Washington | Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
No. 11 | Houston | Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
No. 12 | Minnesota | Jake Locker, QB, Washington
No. 13 | Detroit | Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
No. 14 | St. Louis | Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
No. 15 | Miami | Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
No. 16 | Jacksonville | Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
No. 17 | New England | J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
Up next is San Diego at No. 18, and after not offering up anyone the last two days, we'll get back and suggest Smith from Missouri. We're more than halfway there, and overall, it's not a bad draft. We've had some criticism that it looks too much like other draft boards, but that's sort of the unavoidable nature of a reader mock. The 17 players above give a pretty good idea of how things might fall, and even if not, the debate and discussion has been darned informative. It has for the senior writer, anyway.
Have at it.