I feel like a kid on his first trip to the beach. "Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Stop, I need to go to the bathroom!" The anticipation is just unbearable; all I desire is the comfort and warmth of progress and sweet tranquility. Did I mention that there's now several inches of snow in my neck of the woods? I hope Ryan remembered his parka en route to New York.
As April nears its end, and while I go unpack my long johns, here are picks 17-20 to cool you off.
With the 17th pick, the Cincy Jungle and Cincinnati Bengals select Stephon Gilmore, corner back, South Carolina.
The Cincy Jungle explains:
Even though the Bengals have loaded up on cornerbacks in free agency by bringing back Adam Jones and signing Jason Allen, Cincinnati needs to address the future of the position and figure out how they’re going to replace Johnathan Joseph, who left in free agency before the 2011 season. The only way to do that is in the draft and with the talent at the cornerback position in the 2012 draft class, the Bengals are lucking out. Gilmore is a talented, mature and team-oriented corner who could contribute right away and take over as a starting cornerback down the road opposite of Leon Hall. With Gilmore and Hall in the secondary, defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer will be able to be much more creative with the front seven when it comes to the pass rush.
What I like about Gilmore is that he's a "plus-sized" corner back. What I don't like about the pick is that Dre Kirkpatrick is still on the board, whose talent I grade far higher than Gilmore's. Lots of tape on Gilmore, and some of it shows he has trouble transitioning from his backpedal. He gets beat deep, relying on his physical difference between the wide receivers he covered in college. That advantage won't necessarily be there at the NFL level. I would have gone Whitney Mercilius here to finish the defensive line side since the AFC North isn't all that pass happy and the CBs they have are serviceable, or added Kendall Wright as a WR foil to A.J. Green, who will be doubled by every defense in 2012.
With the 18th pick, Bolts from the Blue writer Wonko and the San Diego Chargers select Mark Barron, safety, Alabama.
The plan with this pick after all the free agency moves was to go best player available. Mark Barron is that guy. The scouts over at Bolts From The Blue have been watching Barron closely since the beginning of the 2010 season. He’s shown himself to a be a good playermaker, great at diagnosing plays and very good in run support. The Chargers have a prospect in Darrell Stuckey ready to take over the SS position, but Barron is a better talent. The Chargers need a player like that playing next to Pro Bowler Eric Weddle and helping out their corners who got exposed at times last year. One of the team’s top priorities for the offseason was fixing their defense so that they are no longer last in the league on 3rd downs. This is a step in that direction.
This pick almost makes too much sense. The Chargers went from the league's No. 1 defense in 2010 to 16th in 2011, giving up over 40 more yards per game through the air. That's not the only reason that they failed to make the playoffs for the second straight year - their offense sputtered many times when they were needed most - but it's a starting point. Mark Barron, who was seen as an injury risk earlier this off-season, has shot up the draft boards since Spring began. If he slips past Dallas and Philadelphia, San Diego could easily take him.
The Chargers could also be in the hunt for yet another outside linebacker, where Larry English has disappointed, like Whitney Mercilus. To possibly go in another direction, let's recall that Philip Rivers' favorite two targets will either be 32 this season (Antonio Gates) or moving to Florida (Vincent Jackson). He'll need weapons to return to Pro Bowl form. Would it be an announcer's dream or nightmare to see Malcom Floyd and Michael Floyd line up in the same offense?
With the 19th pick, Dan Noble of the Windy City Gridiron and the Chicago Bears select Michael Floyd, wide receiver, Notre Dame.
Dan Noble's explanation:
Just imagine... 2011: Devin Hester (5’11, 190), Johnny Knox (6’0, 190), Earl Bennett (6’0, 200). And then 2012: Brandon Marshall (6’4, 230), Michael Floyd (6’3, 225). Sure, the Chicago Bears offensive line still needs some significant work, but seeing a WR like Floyd fall in their lap in the first round would be too much to pass up.
At one point, there were concerns that Floyd’s lack of speed could be an issue heading into the Draft, but registering a 4.47 forty yard dash during his Pro Day laid that issue to rest. Floyd is a very physical receiver, and loves to go up and fight for the football, something that has been sorely lacking in Chicago for several seasons.
Drafting Michael Floyd after trading for Brandon Marshall (and sprinkling in a bit of Hester, Knox, and/or Bennett) could potentially give the Chicago Bears one of the best WR corps in the league... And undoubtedly help take some heat off a QB that has been sacked 110 times in his first three years in the Windy City.
Pros: The situation in Chicago couldn’t be better for Michael Floyd. As a 1st round selection, he has the luxury of learning behind one of the top receivers in Mr. Brandon Marshall. Reunited with his long lost quarterback Jay Cutler, Marshall is sure to demand the attention of defensive coordinators, leaving numerous plays open for Floyd. Production wise, Floyd should be in contention for rookie of the year honors, as no other receiver situation in the league is as favorable with the exception of the 49ers log jam at the position. Floyd comes from Notre Dame, where he averaged 11.5 yards per reception and demonstrated the speed to get the long ball. His 32"arms along with a sick vertical make his catch radius tops among 1st round worthy pass catchers.
Cons: With Kendall Wright still on the board one has to question the pick here. Not to mention that Chicago really needs help on the offensive line. If Lovie Smith is concerned at all with intangibles he stays away from Floyd here. Floyd has numerous arrests for alcohol related incidences, along with a prior knee injury and clavicle fracture. I don’t think that will make most teams shy away however. At this point in the mock it would make more sense for Chicago to go defense with all of the top prospects remaining being on that side of the ball. With no 1st round worthy offensive tackles left on the board, the Bears would do better going with Dre Kirkpatrick, Devon Still, or Whitney Mercilus.
Conclusion: Although this pick has the potential to bring Chicago a Rookie of the Year plaque, it doesn’t address their need for defensive line help. Chicago needs another pass rush guy. Unless they go after an offensive tackle in a trade or address it later in the draft, Jay Cutler will be on his butt long before Floyd gets to the top of his route. Defense is the way to go for Chicago in this mock.
With the 20th pick, Jimmy from Music City Miracles and the Tennessee Titans select Dre Kirkpatrick, cornerback, Alabama.
The Titans need help at almost every spot on defense. Most people believe they will take the best defensive player available, and Dre Kirkpatrick is just that in this scenario. He has top ten talent, but has been sliding down draft because of his arrest earlier this offseason. Kirpatrick’s weakness is that he isn’t a very good man coverage guy, but the Titans don’t play very much man. He would be a perfect fit for their system. Adding him would allow them to keep Alterraun Verner in the slot where he is best.
Though no one would confuse their offense for being flawless, there is little doubt in my mind that Tennessee will use this pick to address their defense. The Titans have lost CB Cortland Finnegan, DL Jason Jones and MLB Barrett Ruud to free agency, while adding only Kamerion Wimbley to fill the void. Looking at who is left on the board, Kirkpatrick makes the most sense; they need a corner to help replace their former best defender.