This was a lot tougher than expected.
Perhaps it was the feeling that the momentum had waned a bit, or perhaps it was just the expected post-Jaguars letdown took a day longer than anticipated, but things just felt sort of all over the place for a while on Day 18 of the jaguars.com 2011 reader mock draft.
But that was OK.
Because eventually things played out pretty clearly.
With the New England Patriots having selected defensive end J.J. Watt of Wisconsin with the No. 17 selection, the senior writer had offered up Missouri outside linebacker Aldon Smith as the selection for the San Diego Chargers at No. 18.
Smith got a little support, but at the risk of ruining the surprise, it wasn't nearly enough.
Instead, the readership talked early and often about best available player, and although there were a lot of – well, bizarre – ideas thrown around, eventually there was a pretty solid consensus.
We'll start with the bizarre, and JaguarsGator9 sort of proved why you don't mix those two names when he offered up his selection.
"Crazy idea, they take (Arkansas quarterback Ryan) Mallett at 18," he wrote, adding, "Billy Volek is only getting older and the Chargers need a solid backup. Plus, (Philip) Rivers only has 3 more years left at an elite status. Look at the Packers with Aaron Rodgers, and you can&39;t tell me that hasn&39;t panned out.
"Prepare for your future now. Don&39;t wait on it once you're busted like the Jags in 2008."
Give JaguarsGator9 credit for knowing and saying up front the idea was crazy, and although it was based in at least a bit of logic, that wasn't enough to get serious consideration for Mallett as the selection. Yes, the Packers' approach with Rodgers worked, but Rivers will turn 30 in December, and that's way too early to draft a replacement for a guy who still seems to be getting better.
There was some support for running back, with mij420 mentioning Daniel Thomas from Kansas State, and Fred Barnes countering that if the Chargers did go running back, it was more likely to be Illinois running back Mikel LeShoure.
But mostly, the readers focused on defense, and while they didn't seem to hate the idea of Smith to San Diego, there was more support for Georgia outside linebacker Justin Houston.
"The coach and GM are under pressure to win this season and they want someone to play now and every play," J-Mart Burkland wrote, adding, "They also want someone who will put up the
'look at him' stats. Justin Houston is the pick here."
The consensus focused on linebacker and defensive end, but there was a lot of discussion, too, about the Chargers' tendency in recent years to focus draft day not on best available player, but on need.
"First off, we need to specify this: San Diego picks by need," J-School Corby wrote, adding, "Period. If anyone here really thought that Ryan Matthews or Larry English were the best players on the board when taken, I&39;ve got some land in Alaska with your name on it. . . . I&39;ll skip my usual wordiness and just say that their biggest need is a pass-rusher."
Corby then spent the rest of his 444-word post detailing his selection, to which Joseph later wrote, "Thank God you skipped the wordiness." This made the senior writer laugh enough to bore the rest of the readership with the exchange, but while Corby's selection of Houston made sense, the overwhelming majority went with what many consider the best available player.
That was defensive end Cameron Jordan of California.
Anyone following the reader mock knows more than a bit about Jordan by now. He has been discussed at length for most of the last half dozen picks. He played with Jaguars defensive tackle Tyson Alualu in college, and grades out high in terms of character, work ethic, etc. He's also versatile, and there are projections he could be selected in the Top 10.
"Once again must be Cameron Jordan," Bones Ray wrote, adding, "How he dominates senior bowl and last this long no idea. But is the BAP here. Gives them a play maker that could put the Chargers as division champs again."
Kevin Grab agreed.
"Cameron Jordan is selected here by the Chargers," Grab wrote, adding, "He satisfies a need while providing great value and would seem to be a player that would very easily become a contributor from day one in San Diego. Jordan has just simply been on the board too long at this point anyways and would seem poised to be the clear cut choice at pick No. 18."
And you know what? That's sort of the bottom line on this selection. Sometimes on draft day, a player falls to a team and the guy's just too good not to take, so with the No.18 overall selection in the jaguars.com 2011 reader mock draft, San Diego selects Jordan.
That makes the board look like:
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
No. 13 | Detroit | Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
No. 14 | St. Louis | Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
No. 15 | Miami | Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
No. 16 | Jacksonville | Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
No. 17 | New England | J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconson
No. 18 | San Diego | Cameron Jordan, DE, California
That brings us to the New York Giants at No. 19. We'll offer up Houston again here, because the Giants seem to have a need at linebacker, but Smith makes some sense again here, too. So does UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers.
Oh, enough of listing guys already.
Have at it.