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2012 NFL Mock Draft V4.0: Picks 16-23

The fact that there is so much defensive talent available in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft makes for some interesting storylines.

Once you get outside the top 10, teams generally start plucking out the best players available on the board, not necessarily players that ideally fit their biggest weaknesses. Given the relatively little first round-worthy offensive talent available, though, you have to wonder what squads that aren’t concerned about defense (i.e. Chicago Bears) will ultimately end up doing.

And in the case of teams who do opt for offense in the first round, will be they be willing to reach for players?

Keep in mind, outside of Trent Richardson, this draft is pretty bare in terms of quality running backs. There are a number of guys who you could legitimately make a case for as second round picks, but given the scarcity of talent available at that position this time around, will GMs start taking these guys late in the first round? Or will the undeniable devaluation of the running back spot over the last few years mean that these second round guys will ultimately fall even lower than anyone originally anticipated?

Also worth keeping an eye on is what the always unpredictable Cincinnati Bengals do. With two picks in the second half of the first round, the Bengals could theoretically trade up for a better, higher pick. They’re looking to shore up the cornerback and running back spots and, if Trent Richardson slides, the likelihood of them moving up for him increases tenfold. Of course, the smart play for Cincinnati would probably be staying pat – but this is a franchise that doesn’t always stick to the “smart play.”

Other interesting things to watch for: how will the acquisition of Brandon Marshall impact the Bears’ pick? Will the Titans opt to upgrade defense or offense? Which quality defensive ends slip to this point? Will Janoris Jenkins’ past scare away teams in need of a cornerback?

With all that in mind, here is how we envision picks Nos. 15-23 shaking out.

[Also, make sure to check out our projections for picks Nos. 1-7]

[And our projections for picks Nos. 8-15]

[And our projections for picks Nos. 24-32]

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