In the NFL, mock drafts resemble the real thing in one significant way:
Every now and then, there's a selection on which there is no consensus and seemingly nothing close – a selection on which everything after it hinges that makes all succeeding selections equally impossible to predict.
Hence, the difficulty of the mock-draft process.
Welcome to Day 12 of the jaguars.com 2011 reader mock draft, a day with the Minnesota Vikings on the clock at No. 12 and a day with absolutely no rhythm, no trend and nothing resembling a hint of which way the Vikings actually will go with the selection.
"This is probably one of the more difficult selections in the draft," Joe Sayers wrote, adding, "The Vikings clearly need a quarterback with (Brett) Favre retiring. It is a pressing need along with the offensive and defensive line. If they believe (Jake) Locker can develop into the passer he could be, then you take him. Franchise quarterback trumps all.
"Jake Locker has the athleticism and the arm. He just needs to develop. I&39;d take him here. Cameron Jordan is the alternative."
That was pretty much the tone of most of the entries Tuesday. Pick a Player. List An Alternative. But overall, there was a tone of uncertainty.
The senior writer had offered up Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett, but as might be expected, that had little or no influence on the readers. Not that it ever does, but on this day, there was no shortage of alternatives.
Some readers seemed to buy into the idea the Vikings would take a quarterback. Others saw Minnesota trading for a veteran at the position. Others still saw the Vikings trading out of the No. 12 spot, which obviously could happen but isn't a concept you can fit into the confines of a reader mock draft.
"Locker, (Christian) Ponder, (Ryan) Mallett....who&39;s it gonna&39; be?" Michael Morgan wrote, adding, "None of the above. (Vikings Head Coach Leslie) Frazier saw the circus that cost (Brad) Childress his job. He won&39;t waste time trying to reach for something that isn&39;t there. There are concerns on all three of these guys and he knows if he starts making decisions on a shoe string that he will regret it either by the end of this year or the middle of the next. Why reach when you have Round 1 talents for sure in J.J. Watt, Cameron Jordan, and Aldon Smith. They take J.J. Watt only because Houston passed on him. . . . Easy decision in my opinion."
While Watt, a defensive end from Wisconsin, did receive a large amount of support, there was no such thing as an easy decision on Day 12.
Watt received support. But so did defensive end Ryan Kerrigan of Purdue, Smith – an outside linebacker from Missouri -- and Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward. Jordan, a defensive end from California, got a few mentions. For every reader who supported Mallett, it seemed another liked Christian Ponder from Florida State for the Vikings at quarterback.
"Christian Ponder – best QB in this draft," Rhett Chrystal wrote, but Brian Levinson disagreed.
"I think Mallet is the easy pick," he wrote. "Not to say that it&39;s the right one, but it would make a heck of a lot of sense for Minnesota to lock down their quarterback situation. Mallett&39;s numbers are very good, and the Vikings don&39;t tend to read too much into character concerns (sex boat scandal and all that jazz.)
"A defensive end would make a lot of sense too, but I don&39;t think they want to wait until the second round to get their guy. I see a lot of teams grabbing quarterbacks earlier than expected to beat the rush, and I think the Vikings will be the first ones to do so."
In the end, the day finished as it started – without a real consensus or even an overly compelling argument. That happens sometimes with the draft, so the ultimate decision came down to a general feeling that quarterback is indeed a need for Minnesota. Most of the readers seemed to agree with that, so while there wasn't a consensus about how to address it, it seemed a good enough place to start.
Of the quarterbacks mentioned by the readers, Locker – a quarterback from Washington who is projected as a first-round selection by some analysts and well below that by others – received the most support. And although his edge was minimal, that somehow seemed appropriate given the overall feel of the day.
So, what the heck . . .
With the No. 12 overall selection in the jaguars.com 2011 reader mock draft, the Vikings selected Locker. It's as good a choice as any, and makes the board looks like this:
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
Up next is Detroit at No. 13. It's a new place for the Lions, who have been at or near the top a lot of years of late. The senior writer will offer up Cameron Jordan of California here, reasoning that an elite pass rusher to play alongside defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh could be pretty appealing.
Here's hoping the readers come up with a better choice.
And if it's not better, here's hoping they at least find a consensus.
Have at it.