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Mock Madness

Posted Mar 15, 2012

The Bengals.com Media Mock Draft, and, yes, that does sound a little redundant, makes its first foray into the wilds this spring and with six weeks to go until the real thing there'll be a few more where this came from.

On Thursday night we'll mock all the way down until the Bengals first pick in the first round at No. 17 and see who's left. Then we'll come back this week to mock down three more to get to No. 21 and huddle with some draftnicks to see where it all could go.

We won't make the call. We'll leave that up to you.

But with free agency still in the throes, there's not a real good handle yet on what some teams will do in front of the Bengals. Take the Browns, the Dolphins, the Seahawks, and the Cardinals, and they could do anything.

1.  COLTS: QB ANDREW LUCK, STANFORD: Mike Chappell, The Indianapolis Star

The very safest pick in the draft. Will he be as good as Peyton? "At least Jim Irsay thinks so," Chappell says.

2.  REDSKINS: QB ROBERT GRIFFIN III, BAYLOR: Mike Jones, The Washington Post

Wise says RGIII is a great athlete that fits in well with the kind of offense the Shanahans run. For a team that hasn't had a franchise quarterback since Lawrence Taylor chased Joe Theismann into the booth 25 years ago, he better be it since the Redskins traded three first-rounders to get him.

3.  VIKINGS: LT MATT KALIL, USC: Jeremy Fowler, St. Paul Pioneer Press

Minnesota needs a cornerstone offensive lineman to make Christian not Ponder. Fowler believes that will allow the Vikings to move left tackle Charlie Johnson to guard.

4.  BROWNS: WR JUSTIN BLACKMON, OKLAHOMA STATE: Marla Ridenour, Akron Beacon Journal

Ridenour and others believe the Browns are going to trade out of here and take Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill. They could even take Tannehill here, but Ridenour thinks they have to do what they didn't do last year and take the playmaker. After the Browns traded the right to take Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones, the offense lacked the big play. The last time they played the Bengals, the Browns only had one wide receiver catch a 20-yard pass. There's also a chance, Ridenour says, Cleveland could take Alabama running back Trent Richardson.

5.  BUCCANEERS: CB MORRIS CLAIBORNE, LSU: Ira Kaufman, The Tampa Tribune

Even though the Bucs signed Eric Wright in free agency. With no official word if Ronde Barber is coming back for a 16th season on the corner, the Bucs also don't know the status of troubled corner Aqib Talib with the legal system or commissioner Roger Goodell.

6.  RAMS: RB TRENT RICHARDSON, ALABAMA: Jim Thomas,  St. Louis Post-Dispatch

If Blackmon is here, the Rams would take him. If not, Thomas reminds us that new Rams head coach Jeff Fisher doesn't mind taking backs in the first round and did it 11 years apart in two different cities. Eddie George in Houston and Chris Johnson in Tennessee. The great Steven Jackson has two years left on his deal and there's no one behind him. The Rams could also trade out of here, but Thomas says the club seems to think Richardson is one of the draft's top handful of players.

7.   JAGUARS: DE MELVIN INGRAM, SOUTH CAROLINA; Tania Ganguli, The Florida Times-Union

It seems like it always ends up like this every year for the Jags. A pass rusher. And every year they need one. They finished 24th in sacks per pass and this guy looks like he can play inside or out.

8. DOLPHINS:  DE QUINTON COPLES, NORTH CAROLINA; Ben Volin, Palm Beach Post

In this scenario Miami is treading water because the Dolphins would probably like Ingram. They might need a third corner, they could use a right tackle, and they're looking for receivers with the Brandon Marshall trade. But it looks like those would be reaches at this spot. So the Dolphins go with top 10 value and take the pass rusher.

9.  PANTHERS: DT  DONTARI POE, MEMPHIS; Pat Yasinskas, ESPN.com/NFC South

Carolina would also like the value if Coples and his Tar Heels roots are there. If not the Panthers supposedly fell in love with Poe and his Herculean combine effort. Yasinskas, the Southern Yaz, says he would fill a hole on the Carolina line that has been empty since the departure of Kris Jenkins.

10. BILLS: LT RILEY REIFF, IOWA;  Mark Gaughan, The Buffalo News

Well, there goes the need for a pass rusher. Time to get a few more weapons for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to go with Stevie Johnson but no one still looks ready to take that second receiver.

11. CHIEFS: QB RYAN TANNEHILL, TEXAS A&M; Adam Teicher, The Kansas City Star

Tannehill may be gone before this, or the Chiefs may trade out of here to let a team take him here while they wait for an offensive tackle or nose tackle. Or they just may take Tannehill themselves. With the way free agency is breaking the Chiefs don't seem to be in the Matt Flynn derby and everybody else left is pretty much a backup as first-year head coach Romeo Crennel mulls a curious QB situation.

12. SEAHAWKS: OLB COURTNEY UPSHAW,  ALABAMA; Mike Sando, ESPN.com

As usual, the pass rushers are flying off the board and Seattle needs one after finishing 29th in generating sacks per pass. According to some, Upshaw is the top rush linebacker in the draft.

13. CARDINALS: RT JONATHAN MARTIN, STANFORD; Darren Urban, azacardinals.com

Urban says this an iffy call because so much is in flux as the Cards work through free agency and the picture will be clearer in a few weeks. He won't rule out Martin's linemate, guard David DeCastro, or a receiver. But at the moment, both tackles are free agents and Arizona is thinking about bringing back Levi Brown and the Cards are also talking to Bills tackle Demetrius Bell. So that may change if they get something done at tackle.

14. COWBOYS: G DAVID DECASTRO, STANFORD; Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

Upshaw and Alabama safety Mark Barron seem to be in the mix, too. Among the free-agent guards the Cowboys are casing is Bengals left guard Nate Livings and even if they sign him they know that DeCastro is going to start for the next decade.

15. EAGLES: MLB LUKE KUECHLY, BOSTON COLLEGE; Les Bowen, The Philadelphia Daily News

One small problem when Philly went to a Wide 9 defense last season. The Eagles didn't have a good enough guy in the middle to patrol it. Voila'. It looks to be the perfect fit in the perfect town. Eagles fans have already made the Cincinnati-bred Kuechly one of their own and are clamoring for the move. He's the defensive equivalent of DeCastro. Plug him in and watch him play for the next dozen years.

16. JETS: S MARK BARRON, ALABAMA; Rich Cimini, ESPN New York

The Jets are looking to put heat on the passer, too, and are said to be looking at Ingram and Upshaw. But if they're not there, Barron is the nice fit because they don't have a playmaking safety. And, Cimini says, even if the Jets woo starting safety Reggie Nelson from the Bengals he can still see them drafting Barron because of how important the position is in Rex Ryan's defense.

So here are the Bengals picking at No. 17 with these players off the board and the exercise shows there'll be a remaining group of players that can project into a major role in a number of different directions.

The most obvious guy that fell is Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and the Bengals would have to be pretty pleased if the draft's second-rated cornerback fell to them. He was arrested in January on a marijuana charge and has some injury issues, but it is still hard to see him falling this far and it would be even harder to see the Bengals pass on a 6-2 corner that can cover if he was there a la Leon Hall at No. 18 in 2007.

But then, there is also LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers, an explosive 6-6 300 pounds. As well as Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd, a prototypical physical No. 2 receiver who ran a 4.47 at the combine. And another defensive tackle, Penn State's Devon Still, a penetrator who can rush the passer and ran a 5.0 40 at the combine. Plus, there is Cordy Glenn, the mammoth tackle from Georgia that projects inside, and the troubled cornerback from North Alabama, Janoris Jenkins.

There could be others, too. To each their own board. But another thing this exercise does is it gets you thinking about the guys that could drop out of there.

If Kirkpatrick's gone, somebody else won't be. Maybe all those defensive ends won't go. If the Cowboys pull the trigger on Kirkpatrick and the Jets get their pass rusher, then the Bengals could be staring at Barron.

Another thing that's evident though the maze is that you could very easily see the Bengals walking out of this round with a defensive lineman, which would ease Wednesday's free-agent losses of backup D-linemen Jon Fanene and Frostee Rucker.

The Bengals draft board is under lock and key. But one thing we do know is they'll rank the players from one through 300 and whatever, and as they cross off each name, they'll start talking about their emerging group at about pick seven or so. But the decision already would have been made about a week before in one of the many meetings.

With six weeks to go, the order can be shuffled in this high stakes games of solitaire. But the names look like they're going to be the same.

Check back this weekend to see the hit on No. 21.

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