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The nature of the beast


The truest thing about any mock draft is the mock part.

These mock drafts? They're just, plain hard to get right. If one pick goes awry everything can come unhinged. As we reach the midway point of the 2012 reader mock draft with the New York Jets on the clock, there's every chance it's true of this mock as well.

Such is the nature of the beast . . . er, mock.

How accurate have we been so far? Well, let's look back . . .

A little more than three weeks from the real version of the 2012 NFL Draft April 26-28, our first five mocked selections look pretty strong, with Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Matt Kalil going No. 1 through No. 3 overall. They seem likely to be the Top 3 selections come month's end.

After that is anyone's guess.

We mocked Alabama running back Trent Richardson to the Cleveland Browns at No. 4, and anyone following the '12 draft can tell you that's where things get a little squirrelly.

The reason is why the always-difficult process of mocking a draft is going to keep getting more difficult –because with the new rookie wage scale, trades are going to be more and more common and they're going to be harder and harder to predict.

Will the Browns trade down? It appears they may.

The same is true of the Jaguars at No. 7. We have the Jaguars taking Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon there, and if it has been noted by some that the readers may have been guilty of some wishful thinking with that selection, it's just as true the real flaw may be that the Jaguars won't be picking there at all, instead opting to trade down.

Such is the nature of the beast . . . er, mock.

So, to all of the readers who are a bit skeptical that this mock may not play out as we have mocked, we'll say this now, halfway through:

You're right. No question, the real draft won't look like this. There will be surprises. There will be trades. We will get some right. We will get far more wrong. And come the end of April, we will have had some fun and it will all get wiped away by the real draft.

So, having reached halfway, we press on with the Jets on the clock at No. 16. After mocking defensive tackle Fletcher Cox to the Philadelphia Eagles at 15, we offered up linebacker Courtney Upshaw of Alabama. With Melvin Ingram of South Carolina off the board, Upshaw may be the draft's best remaining 3-4 outside backer. The Jets play a 3-4, so it seemed a logical fit and there were plenty of readers in this case who agreed.

"I see them taking Upshaw," Matt Wheaton wrote. "It might take him a year to adjust to the system, but I feel with his ability to sniff out the ball he'll go great with Jets' defense. He's too much of a ballhawk for them to pass him up."

Other readers thought the Jets needed help somewhere else.

"The Jets need more weapons for (quarterback Mark) Sanchez," Gary Cislo wrote. "(Wide receiver Santonio) Holmes is really all they have besides a few young wide receivers that haven't proven much yet. I think Upshaw would be the pick if they go for a defensive player. However, there are a few wide receivers whose stocks are rising.

"Kendall Wright has been very quiet with draft analysts. And there is Mohamed  Suna, Alshon Jeffery, and Stephen Hill. If they do go after a wide receiver I believe Kendall Wright will be the pick."

Mid-first round seems high for Wright, but this is the stage of the draft when it seems logical to see a run on the position after the top two of Blackmon and Michael Floyd. He absolutely merits consideration here, but many readers thought a familiar name was a possibility, too.

Jonathan Martin, an offensive tackle from Stanford, got a lot of mentioned just outside the Top 10 of this mock, and with the Jets having a need at the position, a lot of mockers jumped at the chance to send him to New York.

"Jonathan Martin is not getting past the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets," JamesfromJacksonville. "He appears to be everything you'd want in a first-round pick. Martin has size, skill, and experience in a pro-style offense. With the likes of D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold to get his back, it is hard to imagine Martin not being able to find a place on the Jets o-line. "

All in all, the debate was diverse on Day 16. Some readers thought defensive tackle Dontari Poe of Memphis would go off the board, and there was sentiment for New York taking safety Mark Barron of Alabama. J-Mart Burkland liked the idea of wide receiver, speculating that maybe Stephen Hill of Georgia Tech could go here.

J-School Corby threw out the idea of Boston College middle linebacker Luke Kuechly, but in the end he also spoke for many on Day 16 when he wrote, "I'm torn between Upshaw and Martin here."

Outside linebacker or offensive tackle? It didn't seem the Jets could go wrong either way, so in this case we went with the highest value. The guess here is that would be Martin. That means a potential Top 10 selection at last goes off our board and also means after 16 days the 2012 reader mock looks like this:

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

14.Dallas | Janoris Jenkins,  CB, North Alabama

15.Philadelphia | Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State

16.New York Jets | Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

That brings us to Cincinnati at No. 17. We'll offer up South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore here, with the idea that he may not be here during the real draft. His stock is rising a bit, and he could be off the board by now. Such is the nature of the beast . . . er, mock.

Have at it.

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