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Staying on the chalk


And we thought Days 1 and 2 lacked debate.

The story of the first two days of the 2012 reader mock draft remained pretty much the same as we moved into Day 3 – meaning, despite a few dissenting voices there was little doubt about the day's selection.

Andrew Luck? Robert Griffin III?

Sure, everyone remotely following the NFL assumes that come April 26, the two quarterbacks will go No. 1 and No. 2 to the Indianapolis Colts and some yet-to-be-identified team. But on the surface, at least, the selections after that seemed a bit more uncertain.

As it turned out, No. 3 wasn't so uncertain at all. Not to readers, anyway.

To reset, Day 2's "big" debate wasn't if Griffin was going to be the selection after Luck went to the Colts, but what team would be selecting Griffin at the spot. The readers generally believed Washington will trade with St. Louis for the No. 2 spot, so having sent Griffin off to Daniel Snyder, Mike Shanahan and the Redskins, we offered up Southern California offensive tackle Matt Kalil at No. 3 overall to Minnesota.

Not being a quarterback, Kalil hasn't garnered near the attention of Luck/Griffin, and there are draft observers uncertain whether he or running back Trent Richardson of Alabama or LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne should be the No. 3 overall selection.

And, indeed, there were readers on Day 3 with a choice other than Kalil.

"Minnesota needs all the help they can get to stop Green Bay's passing game if they ever want to get back to the top," Shawn R wrote. "No. 3 pick: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU."

Allen Reed weighed on the possibility of Claiborne, too.

"Most people who follow the NFL say that there are only a couple of positions worthy of the Top 3 picks – quarterback, left tackle and defensive end are the ones you see most mentioned," Reed wrote. "So it would make sense that Kalil should be the pick here, but with the changes the NFL is going through a new premium position is born, cornerback. With that said, the next pick is one of the only blue chip prospects outside of Luck, Mo Claiborne to the Vikes."

Well thought-out, but your chip still needs to be bluer than blue as a cornerback to get into the Top 3, and while Claiborne is elite, he may not be that elite.

We moved on, searching for a Kalil alternative. While most readers steered away from the idea of the Vikings taking Richardson – even with running back Adrian Peterson coming off ACL surgery – there were those who believed a skill player was in the Vikings' draft-day future.

That skill player?  One of the draft's most uncertain stories: Justin Blackmon.

There are plenty of people who love the Oklahoma State wide receiver as a Top 5 selection, just as there are plenty who wonder if he's a Top 10 selection. Reader Dave Nelson, for his part, said come the No. 3 selection whatever worries Blackmon has on Draft Day will end.

"Vikings shockingly select Justin Blackmon because they desperately need a WR to pair with (second-year quarterback Christian) Ponder," Nelson wrote. "Matt Kalil slides to Jags at 7... or not."

It seems a stretch that Kalil would slide so far, and JamesFromJacksonville agreed.

"Even if the Vikings select Blackmon, that does not mean Kalil will be there at 7 because he won't be," he wrote. "Kalil has too much value to slide that far. If he is not drafted Top 5, then many will be shocked."

The people shocked almost certainly would include Kalil, but within the framework of the 2012 mock draft he needn't worry. Overwhelmingly, the readers believed his talent and position too strong a fit for Minnesota to pass.

"Matt Kalil to the Vikings here is probably the next closest lock pick in this year's draft," Austin Jarett wrote. "If you need a LT then you don't pass on a franchise one.

JaguarGator9 correctly noted another positive for Kalil.

"Name me the last time that an offensive lineman who was NOT a head case or buffed up on every cover of Sports Illustrated was taken in the first round and turned out to be a bust," JaguarsGator9 wrote. "Joe Thomas, Jake Long, Orlando Pace, Eugene Monroe, Tony Boselli... the list goes on and on. It's the only position where I can find more stars than busts. They take Kalil, because he's a franchise tackle."

And that's how it went most of the day. There was the expected debate over Peyton Manning joining the Jaguars, but if you ignored that even most of those who sort of found themselves thinking maybe, maybe, maybe Claiborne could be the selection eventually agreed Kalil just made too much sense.

"The two picks that make the most sense here are Matt Kalil and Morris Claiborne," Chad Koon wrote. "Apparently the knock on Kalil is 'he isn't a once in a generation LT,' but not a whole lot of people are saying that Claiborne is a once in a generation CB. So, when the opportunity presents itself, the best thing to do usually is to take the best LT in the Draft. More times than not, the best LT is the best player available and the best way to go."

And that's how we'll go here, which means the 2012 reader mock draft now looks like:

1.Indianapolis | Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

2.Washington | Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

3.Minnesota | Matt Kalil, LT, Southern California

Three days, three days of general agreement. It can't be that easy, and maybe it will change on Day 4. That's when we'll offer up Richardson to Cleveland. The pick on paper makes a lot of sense. Will it make sense to the readers? We'll know soon enough.

Have at it.

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