This is by far the least interesting portion of the 2012 NFL Draft. When you get to picks Nos. 16-23, you’re sort of stuck in this strange no man’s land featuring a mishmash of obvious non-contenders and a couple of longshots. And while the non-contenders will clearly be able to improve themselves if they make smart selections, there won’t be any franchise-changing difference makers available at this point. Essentially, all you can get here is building blocks for the future.
The contenders in this group can help themselves, though. The two lone exceptions to everything noted above are the New York Jets and Detroit Lions. Both teams have the power to make it the Super Bowl if everything works out for them, and both teams could substantially improve themselves if they patch up some of their defensive holes.
Just a few team-based storylines to keep an eye on: Rex Ryan will add a defensive player, but what sort of defensive player? Will the Bengals prove to be beneficiaries of some crazy twists that occurred earlier in the draft? Can the San Diego Chargers restore some respectability to a once fierce defensive unit? How will the Brandon Marshall trade impact the Chicago Bears’ selection? Will there be an impactful pass rusher left for the Tennessee Titans by the time they’re up to bat?
And as far as what to look for from a player standpoint: Will Michael Floyd still be available this late in the proceedings? Will the Bengals be willing to take a chance on Janoris Jenkins? How low will Whitney Mercilus fall? Does Kendall Wright go in this segment of picks, or does he dip to the bottom of the first round?
We analyze all that and more in our projections of picks Nos. 16-23.