With the dust cleared from the first 16 picks of the Bengals.com Media Mock Draft, we've got NFL VP Ray Anderson at the lectern instead of commissioner Roger Goodell.
We won't give the Bengals a player here just yet at No. 17 (after all, there are still 38 days and 38 nights left for the call), but we'll take the highest rated player off the board and that would be Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. Now Anderson has the card to get us to Cincinnati's next pick at No. 21:
18. CHARGERS: DE WHITNEY MERCILUS, ILLINOIS; Bill Williamson, ESPN.com/AFC West
The Chargers have a major need for a pass rusher. Even though this guy is a one-year wonder, he's got big-play possibilities.
19. BEARS: WR MICHAEL FLOYD, NOTRE DAME; Brad Biggs, The Chicago Tribune
If there isn't a pass rusher available, the Bears still need a receiver even though Brandon Marshall just arrived in a trade.
20. TITANS: DE NICK PERRY, USC; Paul Kuharsky, ESPN.com/AFC South
The defensive line appears to carry the day. The Titans finished 24th against the run and next to last in the NFL generating sacks per pass.
So let's reset the Media Mock to this point:
- Luck QB; 2. Griffin QB; 3. Kalil LT; 4. Blackmon WR; 5. Claiborne CB; 6. Richardson, RB; 7. Ingram DE; 8. Poe DT; 9. Coples DE; 10. Reiff LT; 11. Tannehill QB; 12. Upshaw DE; 13. Martin T; 14. DeCastro G; 15. Kuechly; 16. Barron S; 18. Mercilus, DE; 19. Floyd WR; 20. Perry , DE. (Kirkpatrick taken off the board as consensus highest-rated player at No. 17 in this scenario.)
With the 21st pick the Bengals ...
Or do they trade it back into the top of the second round and still get what they didn't get at No. 17? And with the extra pick do they still finish the day with a corner, running back, guard, defensive lineman?
But No. 21 could be last-stop shopping. As Gil Brandt, The Architect, says, the picks from Nos. 25 to 45 are pretty much the same guy. Brandt, who built the Cowboys of the '60 and '70s and now writes for NFL.com, thinks it is the last hurrah for what has been a slew of good defensive linemen.
"The dropoff starts right about here for defensive lineman," says Rob Rang, senior draft analyst for CBSSports.com. "There's a pretty good drop until the third round."
If the Bengals use both picks, they can take any position on the field but quarterback, tight end and fullback.
If the Bengals haven't taken a corner by now and they don't want to gamble on North Alabama's troubled Janoris Jenkins (no one has yet), then South Carolina's Stephon Gilmore looks to be legit here. Indeed, if they want a corner and Kirkpatrick is gone at No. 17, they may have to consider him there.
"(Gilmore) is the one guy that is flying up the board in the first round," says Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com.
But one thing that is emerging out of this mock is that no matter how it breaks, the Bengals are going to have their chances for a good defensive lineman at either pick.
In this scenario there are three good tackles sitting there, anchored by LSU's Michael Brockers. The 6-6, 300-pound Brockers is a big, lean guy that hasn't run well in his workouts but he's projected as a versatile and athletic guy with tremendous physical attributes.
Also available is 6-4, 295-pound Fletcher Cox of Mississippi State. He's seen as a potential three-down player in a three technique who is smart enough to play different sports.
"Cox is a DT who can fit quite nicely on the 4-3 defensive line," says Peter Schrager, the FOXSports.com draft analyst who has given Cox to the Bengals in some mocks. "Another guy that could be tempting, if you're looking DT is Devon Still, the big fella and Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year from Penn State."
The 6-5, 305-pound Still has all the physical tools and some see him as a guy that is still ascending even though he's 23.
"If you're sitting there with this board, it would seem to be hard not to take Brockers," Brandt said. "I know he didn't run well, but he'll get a chance again to do it at his workouts."
Receivers? The consensus board still seems to be trying to separate after Blackmon and Floyd. Stephen Hill is continuing to rise after his torrid 40 last month at the combine but some see this as too high for him because the Georgia Tech offense doesn't translate to the NFL. Of course, two words here. Demaryius Thomas. (And he went No. 22.)
The other receiver is Baylor's Kendall Wright, who fell like a stone after his plodding combine 40s. Teams have to figure out if he plays faster than that. As Brandt says, "He carries the uniform well."
The best running back at this point appears to be Miami's Lamar Miller, but the Bengals would be hard pressed to not look at a linebacker like Alabama's Dont'a Hightower and a guard like Georgia's Cordy Glenn.
Could be any position.
Now it gets down to philosophy about taking what positions where and where each team values a guy. For instance, Prisco thinks Miller is legit at that point.
"I'm not big for taking backs in the first round. Only if they're home-run hitters and Miller is a home-run hitter," Prisco says.
But others think Miller is a top of the second round guy. Rang says the Bengals can wait until the second round if they want a back because of Virginia Tech's David Wilson, Boise State's Doug Martin, and Washington's Chris Polk.
If they want offense at No. 21, Schrager says he finds Miller "intriguing," and, "offensive-line wise, I love big Peter Konz (C/G) out of Wisconsin."
"I wouldn't get too cute here," Rang says. "You could make an argument for Wright, but the Bengals seem to prefer to not take receivers in the first round. They've had a few losses on the defensive line and they like big guys. They seem to like to take them and develop them and the defensive linemen are just harder to come by."
But history doesn't point to that.
The last time the Bengals picked a defensive lineman in the first round was Georgia end David Pollack in 2005 and they switched him to SAM backer. You have to go back to 2001 and Missouri end Justin Smith for a first-round D-lineman that played his college position here.
It looks like free agency won't impact the Bengals in draft. Even though they've signed a starting left guard and reportedly agreed to terms with a cornerback, they could still pluck both early. And if they lose Reggie Nelson to the Jets, they seem prepared to go with their young safeties.