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With the No. 1 overall selection...


Not bad for a first day. Not bad at all.

We put out the idea for the first reader mock draft around this time Monday afternoon, and although it was noted by at least one astute reader that the idea wasn't completely original (thought I'd mentioned that), the feedback was strong. Very, very strong.

By the time I sat down to figure the first overall selection, we had 71 responses.

Solid numbers.

And the thing was, the responses were solid, too.

My expectations before suggesting the idea was that this would be good forum for discussion, and for learning about the 2011 NFL Draft. After Day 1, I absolutely think that's going to be the case. The readers' reasoning, for the most part, was sound, and while the player to go off the board first surprised me, I agreed with the selection – and not just because I had final say.

Blaine Gabbert, the quarterback from Missouri, dominated the discussion early. That showed me immediately the readers knew what they were doing because while he may not be the most-hyped player in the draft, he makes a lot of sense at No. 1 to the Carolina Panthers.

"Blaine Gabbert goes No. 1," Chad wrote. "Lack of buzz is a good thing. Reminds me of Matt Ryan."

That was a trend early, but there astutely was a lot of support for not only the player the Senior Writer threw out as a possibility – Patrick Peterson of LSU – but for a slew of defensive linemen as well.

Peterson received nearly as much support as Gabbert, with Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers just behind the duo.

Big guys on the defensive front were popular, with Marcell Dareus of Alabama getting into the mix with a late run of support on Tuesday.

Those were the four most-mentioned players, and while Auburn quarterback Cam Newton – the 2010 Heisman Trophy winner – and Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley each got support, it pretty much came down to choosing between the aforementioned foursome.

Eventually, it was close enough between Gabbert and Peterson that the Senior Writer had to make a call. The call went to Gabbert, and I'll let the readers explain.

"Patrick Peterson won&39;t go No. 1 overall, but he should," jagsinjax4ever wrote. "The Panthers have a new regime, which almost always constitutes taking a QB with the first pick. As much as I personally am not sold on him I think the Panthers select Blaine Gabbert and hope he becomes the next rising star in a QB-loaded division."

Superduckz wrote, "Blaine Gabbert is a perfect need meets (value) pick."

And in the end, that may be right on.

Peterson and Georgia wide receiver A.G. Green are generally considered the best players available in the draft, but neither position is traditionally one at which players are selected No. 1 overall. Peterson is good enough that he received nearly as much support as Gabbert despite playing a position rarely selected in the top three.

The Panthers going with Gabbert is in line with what franchises with new coaches/regimes do; they select a quarterback around whom to build. It's not always prudent, and in this case, there's the obvious worry of Gabbert not being a dead-solid, can't-miss lock, but a young, developing quarterback provides a foundation, an energy and a hope that's often too alluring to ignore.

So, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2011 reader mock draft:

No. 1 | Carolina | Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri

It's also indicative of the nature of this year's draft that seven players received a lot of discussion as potential top selections. We're six weeks out from the draft, and it seems no one – general managers included – has a real good feel for how the top five will break down.

Incidentally, by my count, Gabbert had 15 comments with solid support while Peterson had 14. Bowers was next with 12 and no one else pushed above double digits.

With that, we'll move onto the next pick and we'll again throw out Peterson as the pick, though the presence of Champ Bailey in Denver could cause the Broncos – and a lot of readers -- to move in a different direction.

Remember, the way we're working this is this is a mock draft, not a value board, so pick the player you think will go next, not the player you thinkshould go next. And now that Gabbert has been selected in the 2011 mock draft, he's off the board.

Great first day. Solid start.

Not bad for a first day. Not bad at all.

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