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17. Cincinnati Bengals, Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
The Bengals are on the up and up. They were able to trade away Carson Palmer in probably the most lopsided trade in the last decade. Way to go Oakland. Now the Bengals have the ammunition to add young talent. They go into this next year after making the playoffs with a rookie quarterback and receiver. They have needs and have to watch out for stars falling into sophomore slumps.
Cincinnati has a ton of options having both the 17th and 21st selections in the draft. They could trade up if someone like Richardson falls out of the top 10; however they also have needs at receiver, guard, and cornerback. The Bengals have really cleaned up their act, but they desperately need a corner and the top 2 left have had run-ins with the law. Dre Kirkpatrick is the lesser of the two evils. They could take a chance on a receiver, which wouldn’t be shocking given the success they had last year with A.J. Green.
18. San Diego Chargers: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
The Chargers don’t have an elite pass rusher and with the additions of both Peyton Manning and Carson Palmer to the division since the last draft the Chargers could use a guy to bring havoc to these non mobile veterans. They will go defensive end if any of the ones I have prior are on the board.
San Diego is one of the most disappointing teams year in and year out. Charger fans have been calling for Norv Turner’s head for years and one more playoff miss might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. He has a great quarterback in Philip Rivers, but they seem to always come up short. They either start out to slow or find ways to fall apart. Two years ago they had the #1 offense and the #1 defense and found a way to miss the playoffs.
This pick has to be a difference maker, weather it is a receiver or a defensive leader. Whomever they end up picking needs to make an immediate impact otherwise veterans and coaches could be seeing pink slips by year end. We have seen inside linebackers come in and be a force right away, look at Patrick Willis and Jerod Mayo. Kuechly could go in the top ten, but there is a good chance he slides this far, if he does teams in this range will jump on him.
19. Chicago Bears: Courtney Upshaw, OLB/DE, Alabama
If I were the Bears this pick would be spent on an offensive lineman (Cordy Glenn) however drafting linemen early isn’t what this team does. The Bears watched their season go from triumph to turmoil quicker than you can flip between the two words in a dictionary. They watched Cutler and Forte go out midseason and packed it in from there. They were in the NFC Championship 2 years ago hanging with the eventual champions with a back-up quarterback.
This team is starting to lose its identity. The defense has become average and believe it or not they were 28th last year in pass defense. Since I don’t think they will go lineman, even though they should, I think the best alternative is Upshaw. He was able to lead Alabama to a national title and brings a meanness on the field. Lining him up across from Peppers would give him a chance to beat one on ones to the quarterback.
20. Tennessee Titans: Devon Still, DT, Penn State
With all the talk about defensive tackles that have shot themselves up the board it will be interesting to see where Devon Still ends up. According to Scouts Inc. he is the best of all of them, but others improved themselves at the combine where he didn’t help or hurt his cause.
Tennessee still needs a dominate force on the inside and Still is a good value that fits a need. The Titans really like Kuechly and might be impressed enough to trade up for him.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Cordy Glenn, OT/OG, Georgia
With the Bengals going corner with the 17th pick this one becomes interesting. They could take a wideout to compliment Green and Gresham making the offensive weapons dangerous for opposing defenses. This is the highest I could see Stephen Hill being drafted and it will be tempting, but the Bengals will play it safe and shore up the line.
Cordy Glenn had a great combine and would fit right in upfront. Andy Dalton sure wouldn’t mind offensive line help.
22. Cleveland Browns: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
The Browns need talent and receiver is a major need. They got their running back by drafting Richardson with the 4th pick and now it’s time to upgrade the wideout position. Having the 22nd pick in a draft full of talented WR’s allowed the drafting of Richardson because there would be a wideout at this spot. I know many thought Blackmon should have been the pick at 4, but Richardson plus Hill or Wright is better than any combination they could have by taking Blackmon.
The reason for Hill over Kendall Wright comes down to athletic ability. Hill is taller, faster, and didn’t have a top tier quarterback throwing him the ball. Sure Hill doesn’t have the same numbers, but the thought of what he could do at the next level with his structure will push him up draft boards.
I have seen many mocks picking Brandon Weeden the quarterback out of Oklahoma State in this spot and all I have to say is don’t buy into it. Weeden will turn 29 in October and is actually older than Alex Smith by almost 7 months. Weeden is better than most the quarterbacks in the draft and he would be a good fit to the Browns, but no way do they or anyone touch him in the first 3 rounds.
23. Detroit Lions: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
Remember back to week 17 when a backup quarterback was able to put up 45 points with 6 touchdowns. If that isn’t reason enough to draft a defensive back, I don’t know what is.
Jenkins comes with a lot of question marks after what happened with him at Florida that led to him being kicked off the team. Given the current problems the Lions are experiencing with players being arrested, they will do extensive research to make sure everything is in the past.
If they don’t feel good about him, they should still be expected to address the secondary by drafting strong safety Mark Barron.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama
Let’s face it, the Steelers seemed to have aged overnight on defense. This team has to make changes if there’s any chance at keeping up with the Ravens and Cincinnati in the division. They got torched by Tebow in the playoffs.
Dont’a Hightower may be the best of all the Alabama defenders coming out in the draft. He performed well both on the field and in drills. Kirkpatrick has faced drug charges, Upshaw didn’t impress anyone at the combine and Barron might not be that great at the next level because he won’t have such a dominate group in front of him.