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Moving to the front


We're starting to move quickly now. At least it feels that way.

And on Day 4 of the 2011 mock draft, we'll move quickly, too, with a shorter post. It's Friday afternoon after all. And there is that March Madness thing.

In the scope of our little sliver of pre-draft hysteria, here's what Day 4 may be remembered for:

A defensive lineman finally came off the board.

If there was anything that surprised the senior writer in the first three days, it was that readers stayed away from the defensive front, with quarterback Blaine Gabbert of Missouri going to Carolina at No. 1 overall, cornerback Patrick Peterson of LSU next to Denver and Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller No. 3 overall to Buffalo.

That trend had to break. The defensive front's too important.

With the Cincinnati Bengals on the clock on Day 4, readers agreed, although there was quite a bit of talk in favor of Auburn quarterback Cam Newton and Georgia wide receiver A.G. Green.

"Has to be Cam Newton," Ruben Carela wrote, adding, "Even if Carson Palmer stays, it can&39;t be good for your team if the leader doesn&39;t want to be there. Everyone says they&39;ll go receiver but Chad Johnson is still there and they&39;re high on Jordan Shipley . . ."

Green got plenty of support, too.

"A.J. Green is their choice," jagsfan22 wrote, adding, "This makes sense, since the offense is undergoing a makeover. The Bengals have a new offensive coordinator. Terrell Owens is gone. Carson Palmer has vowed to never be a Bengal again and maybe a less drama-filled good receiver might lure him back. Green is a major talent. This is a need pick because there is better players than Green at this pick, but Bengals will probably take him."

Still, despite a lot of banter on offense, it was a defensive player who received the most support – enough that the senior writer didn't much consider overriding the majority opinion.

With Cincinnati relatively solid on the interior, the readers for the most part ignored interior line here. That means Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley continuing to slide a bit, and Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus – who received a lot of support in the early days – also receiving little mention from the readers.

Instead, the readers seemed to think the Bengals will focus on pass rush, and that meant a pretty solid consensus on Da'Quan Bowers of Clemson being the selection.

"De&39;Quan Bowers will be selected here," Harper wrote, adding, "(Domato) Peko and (Pat) Sims hold the interior of the defensive line well against the run. However, the Bengals currently have LB Michael Johnson listed as their RE. Not to mention they ranked 27th in the league last year with only 27 sacks. The offensive line actually allowed more sacks (28) than the defense could produce. Bowers provides a true 4-3 defensive end that will rush the passer and open up lanes for Keith Rivers and Rey Maluaga to make plays against the run."

So, Bowers to the Bengals it is, meaning the 2011 mock draft now looks like this:

No. 1 | Carolina | Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
No. 2 | Denver | Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
No. 3 | Buffalo | Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M
No. 4 | Cincinnati | Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson

Up next is Arizona at No. 5. I'll throw out Marcell Dareus of Alabama. I could list a bunch of reasons, but Memphis just closed the gap on Arizona to two in the second half, so take the weekend and come up with something better. Or don't.

We'll see how it goes.

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