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Three scenarios


Predicting the draft is a fool's game, for better or worse.

At worst, if you throw out the unpopular selection it can be dangerous stuff – if, that is, you consider "danger" a lot of vitriol and wisecracks on your Twitter timeline.

At best . .

Well, who knows what, exactly, good comes from draft predicting except heartfelt debate and conversation. Come to think of it, that is pretty good – not to mention it's the whole idea of pre-draft talk and speculation. So, with that in mind we offer up the first of what could be several posts of this nature on leading to the April 26-28 2012 NFL Draft.

We'll call it "Three Scenarios," and because we're not very original, you can imagine what three scenarios means. We'll throw out three scenarios that could play out for the Jaguars in the first round of the draft. That may mean talking about a trade back from No. 7, or it could mean what happens if the Jaguars stay with the selection.

Word of caution:

No real order here. At 7, so much depends on the unknown. There are scenarios, possibilities, and there are other scenarios that are possibilities. These are the ones we opted to discuss today, because these are ones that are getting a lot of play lately.

What will they do? Well, that much likely won't be known until sometime after 9 p.m. on April 26. Until then, it's speculating, pontificating, arguing and vitrioling. And yeah, I'm pretty sure the last one's not a word, too, but I'm just as sure my timeline will be full of it for the next few couple of weeks, anyway.

So, in the interest of feeding the beast, this week's three scenarios:

Scenario One:Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

Likelihood:Better now than, say, two weeks ago.

The breakdown:While Blackmon is still mocked by many to teams such as Cleveland at No. 4, St. Louis at No. 6 and even Minnesota at No. 3, more and more analysts in recent weeks report that scouts and football people believe he could slip from the Top 10. For every analyst that loves his production in college and his ability to play big in big games, there are those who believe his size and speed translate to a productive No. 2 receiver and perhaps not a No. 1. While he might not be a No. 1 receiver on the scale of, say, Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson or A.J. Green, most believe he is a safe bet to be a productive starter, and that makes him compelling in the Top 10.

Realistically speaking:For all the talk of Blackmon sliding, it still seems to depend largely on a team trading into the Top 6 to draft Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

Given a chance:The guess here – 13 days from the draft – is given a chance the Jaguars would take him . . .

Unless:. . . there is a trade offer at No. 7 compelling enough.

Scenario Two:Trading down.

Likelihood:High -- if a partner can be found.

The breakdown:This is a vague scenario by necessity. Pre-draft, it's hard to predict just with whom the Jaguars might trade down, but there seems little doubt that they would do so given a reasonable opportunity. Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith said recently the team would be open to it and the likelihood seems to depend on Tannehill. With Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III essentially locked into the top two positions, Tannehill is the only other quarterback deemed worthy of being a Top 10 selection, and many have him linked with Miami at No. 8. With teams such as Kansas City, Cleveland and Seattle possibly being among those teams needing a quarterback, there could be a team willing to trade with the Jaguars to get past Miami. If so, the Jaguars could potentially pick up an early second-round draft choice in this year's draft. With that, they could select two second-rounders or theoretically package those two second-rounders to move back into the first round. With this considered a deep draft at receiver, getting a mid-first round selection and using it on, say, Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus makes sense. The market for Tannehill could benefit the Jaguars in another way, too. If a team trades up past them to get Tannehill, that would knock one of the draft's elite talents to No. 7. If Tannehill goes before them, either Southern California left tackle Matt Kalil, Blackmon, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne or Alabama running back Trent Richardson would be at 7. It's hard to see the Jaguars taking Kalil or Richardson, but either player would have trade value. Either Blackmon or Claiborne would make sense for the Jaguars at No. 7.

Realistically speaking: The trade talk around Tannehill is real. He probably is not one of the best six or seven players in the draft, but the lure of a quarterback is strong. The biggest question seems to be, "Will it be the Jaguars making the trade?" Yet, Minnesota, Cleveland, Tampa Bay and St. Louis all have indicated they would be willing to trade down. The percentages seem to be against the Jaguars actually making the trade, but there seems to be a pretty good chance someone from 3-7 will make the trade, and that would be enough to enhance the Jaguars' draft situation at 7.

Given a chance:The guess here is given a chance the Jaguars would trade . . .

Unless:. . . Blackmon or LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne slide to No. 7.

* *

Scenario three: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State.

Likelihood:Better than you might think.

The breakdown:This was who we mocked at No. 7 for the Jaguars a few days back, with the expected reaction. Many wondered why the Jaguars would consider taking a defensive tackle with Terrance Knighton, Tyson Alualu and C.J. Mosley on the roster. The first answer is they very well might not, but the second answer is that Cox could be the best player available at No. 7 and he is a clean enough prospect that he has to be a possibility. Many of the players being mentioned for the Jaguars at No. 7 have attributes that could make the Jaguars pass. Melvin Ingram of South Carolina is considered more a 3-4 linebacker than the 4-3 pass-rushing end, and North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples has had his effort in college questioned enough that many teams reportedly will pass. While many Jaguars fans are smitten with Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd, and while he has become a hot name in recent weeks, there are many who question his status as a Top 10 selection, and whether he clearly is better than a lot of receivers available at the end of the first round.

Realistically speaking:  If Blackmon, Claiborne and Richardson are gone, when you search for best available players that make sense, you come back to Cox in a hurry. Not only is he considered a very good bet to be productive, he is versatile and can play end. Cox may not be the fan-pleasing selection, but he may be the best available player and the best option if the Jaguars can't engineer a trade.

Given a chance:The guess here Jaguars would take him. . . Unless:. . . they get a really good trade offer – or unless Blackmon or Claiborne is

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