AUBURN AL - NOVEMBER 13: A.J. Green #8 of the Georgia Bulldogs fails to pull in this reception against Richard Samuel #22 of the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on November 13 2010 in Auburn Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
With the draft just hours away, here is my full 7-round Bengals mock draft with four different scenarios that I could see playing out when they're on the clock. Each scenario will be categorized like this.
Pick: This is my official guess at the actual pick.
Need: This will be the pick if the Bengals go for a need position over the best player available.
Value: This might not be the player the Bengals were targeting, but it's a guy they didn't expect to be there. Like Rey Maualuga in 2009, they will take this player because he's by far the highest rated player on their board.
Surprise: This is when they take a player most of us wouldn't imagine being an actual option. Much like Andrew Whitworth in 2007, he was a player the Bengals liked that we didn't think about prior to the draft.
4th Overall Pick
Pick: A.J. Green - WR - UGA - This is the guy we've come to expect to be the pick. He's the highest player on my board and could be on the Bengals board also. I understand this pick because Green is a special player and should be able to contribute right away. Plus, I don't want the Browns to get him.
Need: Blaine Gabbert - QB - Mizzou - The biggest need on any team with QB issues? Franchise Quarterback. If the Bengals feel Blaine is exactly that, then there's no reason they should/would pass on him. With the general feeling being that you can't count on a QB being available at pick 35, you have to take your pickoff the litter when you can.
Value: Patrick Peterson - CB/S - LSU - Many teams have Peterson as their best player in the draft. For all we know, the Bengals could feel the same way. If the best player in the draft is still available with the 4th pick, isn't that value? Marvin Lewis has preached the need to get value with each one of their picks. Peterson at pick four, would be that definition.
Surprise: Trade Down - Washington (10), Houston (11) - Rumors are running rampant that these two teams are looking for move up to get their man. The Redskins would like Gabbert, while the Texans would like Von Miller or Peterson. Two of those three players could be available when the Bengals are on the clock. Who would Cincinnati target with pick 10 or 11? Maybe the rumored visit of Nick Fairley the other night was for a reason, and maybe Julio Jones is the actual preference of the two top WRs. Both could be available if the Bengals traded back.
35th Overall Pick
Pick: Andy Dalton - QB - TCU - I called this pick in mid March, so I'm sticking to it. It's not that I think this would be good value for Dalton, but I like the fit. Dalton will be at his best in a west coast based passing offense that will also run the ball to take pressure off of the passing game. Dalton has been a hot name since March, so he might not even be available at pick 35.
Need: Mikel Leshoure - RB - Illinois - The Bengals need a RB if they plan on throwing a rookie QB to the wolves on week 1. Cedric Benson was just OK last year, and his fumbles made the situation even worse. If he and the offensive line repeat their 2010 performances, a rookie QB won't stand a chance. Mikel Leshoure is a power back with huge upside. If the Bengals regret missing out on Steven Jackson, this could be their redemption pick. Both are very similar in running styles.
Value: Ryan Mallett - QB - Arkansas - The same old Bengals, right? Ryan Mallett the biggest question mark of the QB class is still available at pick 35. He has top 15-20 talent, but his character questions might have him sitting in the middle of round two. I could the where the Bengals don't hold Mallett's past problems against him, and have him rated as a mid 1st round pick. In their minds this pick would be an absolute steal.
Surprise: Martez Wilson - LB - Illinois - How much does Marvin trusts his linebackers? They want more from Maualuga and Keith Rivers. During the Illinois pro day, sources said the Bengals seemed very interested in Martez Wilson. They probably like his versatility to play inside or out in a 4-3 defense. With the uncertainty of Maualuga's transition to the middle, maybe they draft a backup plan just in case it doesn't work the way we hope it does.
66th Overall Pick
Pick: Will Rackley - G/T - Lehigh - This is a guy that I think the Bengals secretly like a lot. They attended his pro day and also seemed very interested. Rackley is rising draft boards and I would expect him to go within 10 picks of 66. Rackley could play LG/RG while even backing up both OT positions.
Need: Leonard Hankerson - WR - Miami - If Green isn't the pick at 4, then WR becomes their biggest need. Waiting until round three could be risky, but there is enough depth at WR in this year's draft to find a starter in the beginning of round three. The Bengals coached against Hankerson in the Senior Bowl where he had a big game.
Value: Ryan Williams - RB - Virginia Tech - Huge value pick if Williams is still available when this pick is on the clock. The value of a RB is depreciating, which is causing these top tier RBs to slip a little bit. If the Bengals can grab one of the top three RBs, they need to jump on it. Williams would give the Bengals a legit receiving option out of the backfield that they haven't had in a long time.
Surprise: K.J. Wright - OLB - Miss St - Wright is a SAM LB with some pass rushing skills. AS much as the Bengals blitz Maualuga, they would be smart to find a better pass rusher for their SAM LB spot. K.J. Wright can do that. He had 8 sacks from the LB position in his senior season.
101st Overall Pick
Pick: Delone Carter - RB - Syracuse - This is a personal favorite player in this draft. I think Carter would be perfect for what the Bengals usually like in their RBs. He's a power back with great balance and strength. Much like Rudi Johnson, Carter is a bowling ball in the hole. He reminds me of Thomas Jones, who found a way to shed the bust label while under Jon Gruden in Tampa.
Need: Marcus Gilchrist - FS - Clemson - Gilchrist might not make it to the 4th round, but if he does, the Bengals should jump on it. Zimmer has always been intrigued by the possibility of using one of his safeties to kick outside and cover a receiver man-to-man. As a former CB, Gilchrist could do just that.
Value: Edmond Gates - WR - Abilene Christian - If somehow the WR position isn't addressed until the 4th round and Edmond Gates is still available, I could easily see this as the pick. Gates is Bernard Scott's cousin, so they should have the inside scoop on him. Gates is a guy with big upside to his game, so naturally he's been climbing draft boards. He's now a projected 3rd round pick, but with the Bengals picking so high in each round, they will find a few players with great value throughout the draft.
Surprise: Terrell McClain - DT - USF - When Marvin Lewis went to see last year's first round pick Jason Pierre-Paul, he also saw Terrell McClain. Intrigued by him then, Marvin has probably kept his eye on him during McClain's senior year. Unless the Bengals draft Marcell Darues or Nick Fairley, they could probably wait until the 4th round or later to address the position.
134th Overall Pick
Pick: DeAndre McDaniel - SS - Clemson - McDaniel is a SS with good range and ball skills. He projected by most to go between round 2-4, and as much as I like him, I don't see him going higher than the 5th round. He's had past character issues and isn't the greatest athlete at the safety position. I like him as a fit for Cincinnati because he has some deep coverage skills while also being a run support type of safety.
Need: Andrew Jackson - G/T - Auburn - Jackson is a left guard in the Eric Steinbach mold. Not as talented, but could be a starter within a year. Left Guard is arguably the biggest need on the offensive line.
Value: Ahmad Black - S - Florida - "Small and slow" is how Ahmad Black is getting labeled after running a 4.8 and measuring in at 5'9" 185 lbs. Forget that stuff. Black is a good football player and might have the best ball skills on any DB in this draft. Maybe not a franchise starting safety, but Black will make your team for the next five years at least.
Surprise: Ricky Elmore - DE - Arizona - Elmore was highly productive in college, but has been overshadowed by Brooks Reed's hair. Elmore is in the Aaron Kampman and Kyle Vandenbosch model. He's high-energy guy with a non-stop motor. Elmore might even be able to stand up and play SAM LB like a poor man's David Pollack.
167th Overall Pick
Pick: Sione Fua - DT - Stanford - Marvin saw him at the Senior Bowl and compared him to Jonathan Fanene. With Fanene heading into possible free agency, could Fua be his replacment?
Need: Henry Hynoski - FB - Pitt - Probably the 2nd best FB on the draft. Hynoski can fill the FB hole that the Bengals may have. They have Vakapuna and Pressley, but if this offense resembles anything like the offense Jay Gruden helped run in Tampa, they could possibly carry two FBs.
Value: Jamie Harper - RB - Clemson - Another RB, and another player from Clemson. Trust me, I'm not a Clemson fan. Harper reminds me of Raiders RB Michael Bush. It's likely that the Bengals wait until the late rounds to take a RB.
Surprise: Byron Maxwell - CB/FS - Clemson - If you can't get Gilchrist, the next best thing might be Maxwell. He played both CB and FS equally at Clemson. I think his best days are ahead of him, and he's one of my big sleepers in this draft.
207th Overall Pick
Pick: Ryan Jones - CB - NWM St - Jones is a small school CB who has all the physical tools to play in the NFL. He has good ball skills and is a willing tackler. Could end up being a 3rd or 4th CB with special teams value.
Need: Alex Henery - K - Nebraska - With Mike Nugent's career with the Bengals in jeopardy. It's about time they invested an actual draft pick into the position.
Value: Stevan Ridley - RB - LSU - Another big back in the later rounds. I think a similar pick is very likely.
Surprise: Mario Fannin - RB - Aurburn - Fannin is a little bit of a different type of big back pick. He's an excellent receiving threat out of the backfield and you can find creative ways to use him. He should find a way to help a team.
246th Overall Pick
Pick: Lee Smith - TE - Marshall - Big blocking TE that should pair with Gresham and cut down on the... "Number 74 is an eligible receiver."
Need: Brian Lainhart - S - Kent St - With safety being a huge need, I could se them taking two in this draft.
Value: Aldrick Robinson - WR - SMU - Could be a steal if Robinson puts it all together.
Surprise: Zach Clayton - DT - Auburn - Bengals showed interest in Clayton already, but maybe it was just to get more info on Nick Fairley. Either way, I think he will make a roster and I wouldn't mind having him with their last pick.