The midway point of the 2012 NFL Draft is where you will start seeing teams taking chances on flawed players. Whether it’s guys with questionable attitudes that may or may not be disruptive at the next level, or guys who didn’t perform as well as folks expected them to at the Combine – this is where big names with solid college credentials but a certain amount of doubt about how they will adjust to the pros are likely to be nabbed.
Interestingly enough, this is also where the most fun-to-watch teams (both on and off the field) will happen to be picking. The New York Jets, fresh off their Tim Tebow addition, will look to find a diamond in the rough here. The Cincinnati Bengals, following a surprisingly solid season thanks to a few great draft picks last year, will have to make the always tough decision regarding whether they value talent more than character.
The San Diego Chargers, Tennessee Titans and Detroit Lions all have very specific weaknesses that they need to address, but it remains to be seen if the pieces they need will still be there by the time they’re on the clock. The Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears will have already addressed their major holes prior to these picks (in the case of the Browns via an earlier pick, and in the case of the Bears via trade), but they could still find pieces to help themselves with if they make the right calls.
As far as player-specific storylines to watch for: will questions about Janoris Jenkins’ attitude give teams in need of a cornerback pause? Will any of the non-Trent Richardson running backs that are projected to be second round talents sneak up into this portion of the proceedings? Did certain teams’ offseason trades impact Michael Floyd’s draft stock?
Generally speaking, teams don’t expect to find stars that they can build their franchises around at this point in the draft. Rather, these picks are mostly about solidifying one side of the ball or the other. And looking around, there are plenty of potentially really impactful guys that can do just that here.
With that in mind, here is how we envision picks Nos. 16-23 shaking out.
(Note: Tune in Tuesday to the Bottom Line Sports Show as they talk all things NFL, and have one lucky NFL Draft prospect on to discuss what the future holds.)