Now that the draft is exactly two weeks away, the mocks are starting to slow down a bit. There is only so many times you can predict that the Bengals will take Stephon Gilmore/Dre Kirkpatrick and David DeCastro/Kendall Wright, right? Well, today, NFL.com's Charles Casserly released a new two-round mock draft and went in a different direction than most analysts and draftniks with who the Bengals will choose with their first three picks.
With the Bengals' no. 17 pick, Casserly has the Bengals taking Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd.
I love this pick. I mean, after a few weeks of combines, personal workouts, and pro days, Floyd is seen by many as being the best WR in the 2012 draft, even ahead of Justin Blackmon (who Casserly has going no. 6 overall to the Rams), but I just do not see this happening for two reasons. First, there are too many teams in the 10-16 pick range that need a wide receiver. The Bills at no. 10 could take Floyd because Fitzpatrick needs someone to throw the ball to besides Stevie Johnson (we saw how well that worked out last year). The Seahawks, picking at no. 12, would be a great place for Floyd because they don't have a solid no. 1 WR. Even the Jets at no. 16 could easily take Floyd to give Sanchez as much help as possible (Lord knows he needs it). And we aren't even talking about teams that pick in the top 10, sans the Colts and Redskins for obvious reasons. Don't get me wrong, I would love nothing more than to see Floyd line up across from A.J. Green in August. I think that Floyd would be the perfect compliment to Green, in that he would take away double coverage from Green, he is a dangerous player over the top, and he can catch nearly anything with his great hands and body control, but these are all reasons why he will not be available for the Bengals' first pick.
Second, Casserly has South Carolina CB Stephon Gilmore going to the Titans with the 20th overall pick, and I do not see how the Bengals could ever pass up Gilmore with the first pick. I can understand that Casserly is thinking the Bengals have added two free agent CB's over the last few weeks and re-signed Adam Jones to a one-year deal, but even with these additions, that does absolutely nothing to their plan of taking a CB with one of their first three picks in the 2012 draft. Evidently, Casserly would disagree with me because (*spoiler alert for the rest of this article*) Casserly does not have the Bengals taking a CB with any of their first three draft selections. I guess that Casserly thinks Jason Allen and Terence Newman can revive their careers in Cincinnati and play well for another two-three years. This wouldn't be the first time it has happened (see Dhani Jones, Deltha O'Neal, or Reggie Nelson), but I highly doubt the Bengals front office would not take Gilmore or Kirkpatrick because they picked up two sub-par CB's via free agency. Then again, stranger things have happened in Bengaldom on draft day.
Next, Casserly has the Bengals taking Stanford OG David DeCastro at no. 21.
21) Cincinnati Bengals: David DeCastro, OG, Stanford. Far too good a player to pass up at this point and it fills a need in Cincy, too.
Evidently, Casserly is of the mind-set that interior offensive linemen are not valued very high....even if it is the best interior offensive linemen coming out of college since Steve Hutchinson. Many analysts don't have DeCastro even making it to the Bengals' no. 17 pick, let alone their second pick at 21. Once again, don't get me wrong, I would love to upgrade the offense with two needs major needs (no. 2 WR and OG) being filled by two of the best players in the draft in their respective positions.
Alas, though, I am of the persuasion that interior offensive linemen, when they are named David DeCastro and Steve Hutchinson, are highly valuable to teams with OL needs and I do not think DeCastro will make it past the Cowboys (no. 14 overall). That being said, if DeCastro is available and if the Bengals do pass on him with their first pick, again, there would be no way that the Bears (no. 19 overall) would pass on an elite lineman who could help keep Jay Cutler off of his back. Jay Culter upright = playoffs for the Bears. So, with DeCastro very likely gone by either of the Bengals' picks, it is more likely that the Bengals go one of two ways: 1) in keeping with Casserly's mock, if the Bengals draft Floyd at no. 17, there is no way that they can pass on one of the two elite CB's in this year's draft, and I am certainly not talking about Janoris Jenkins. With Gilmore gone to the Titans, Kirkpatrick gets the nod with the Bengals' pick at no. 21. 2) If the Bengals do what everyone else in the entire world thinks they will do and take Gilmore first, then their second pick will likely be offensive, and could end up going RB or WR. At this point in the draft, Floyd, Richardson, and Blackmon will probably be drafted, so I can see the Bengals taking Baylor WR Kendall Wright or Boise State RB Doug Martin with their second pick. Both fill major needs and both are top two or three position players in the class.
To round out the two-round mock, Casserly has the Bengals taking Miami RB Lamar Miller with the 53rd overall pick.
53) Cincinnati Bengals: Lamar Miller, RB, Miami. Cincinnati needs some speed in the backfield and Miller is a true home-run threat.
If this is how the Bengals' draft ends up, I would certainly not be upset. To have Floyd, DeCastro, and Miller on the same field as Green, Dalton, Shipley, Gresham, Lee, and Green-Ellis is a disturbing thought, but, if you are like me, the however clichéd idiom in the offensive-oriented-21st-century-NFL rings true: Defense wins championships. We might find out that the front office is happy with leaving Zimmer and the defense in the hands of first round draft busts, aging veterans, and unproven talent, but from the fan's perspective, defense needs to be addressed with at least one of the first two picks. The average age of the Bengals secondary, not including draft picks, is 28, and they are not getting any younger. Then again, Zimmer and Marvin could be completely fine with waiting until 2013 to draft a CB and have the first two rounds be all offensive, just like last year. When it comes to the Bengals, nothing and no one can be sure until Roger Goodell marches to the podium and announces the names of the Bengals' two picks on April 27th.
All of this brings to mind another trite idiom that Bengals fans have become accustomed to over the years: stranger things have happened [on draft day].