ESPN NFL (In$ider) draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has been pumping out mock drafts like it's nobody's business throughout the last few years. As usual, they start off in left field and by the time the draft rolls around, he's much more accurate. Most recently, he has pumped out a three-round mock draft split up in two separate posts for the AFC and NFC. For the Bengals, Kiper didn't stray too far from the usual in the first round, but in the second and third, his picks are a little surprising.
In the first round, Kiper selects South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore with the No. 17 overall pick and then he grabbed Stanford guard David DeCastro at No. 21. I'm 99.99999 percent positive that every Bengals fan (including you) would be jumping for joy if this scenario came to pass, especially if the Bengals somehow landed DeCastro at No. 21.
Then, in the second round, Kiper predicts that the Bengals decide to go back to cornerback, instead of looking at a running back or wide receiver, by selecting Virginia Tech's Jayron Hosley. Then, with the team's third-round pick, he goes back to the offensive line and grabs Utah guard Tony Bergstrom, once again bypassing wide receiver and running back or any other position they needed.
Here's Kiper's explanation:
A good session of checking off top needs. Gilmore is a big, physical corner who comes in ready to play. I'm thrilled if I'm Cincy and he's still sitting there at No. 17; he's a smart kid who will pick things up and can contribute to a team looking to take the next step in the playoffs. DeCastro is a big-time prospect at guard, and the Bengals can draft him and assume improvement in the run game, where they really struggled in 2011. He may be the best guard prospect since Steve Hutchinson, and guard is a big need for them. Hosley provides more depth at corner. He has the instincts of a Round 1 pick and can be a playmaker but doesn't have the size to get the elite tag on most boards. Bergstrom can play early if needed, but is good insurance.
I love the picks of Gilmore and DeCastro, for obvious reasons, but I gotta say that I'm not too terribly hot on the selection of Hosley or Bergstrom. With DeCastro, who would start at right guard, and Travelle Wharton starting at left guard, I would think that Clint Boling and Otis Hudson would be plenty of depth at the position (they could even sign an extra cheap free agent if they wanted), which would open up the team to use that third-round pick on a wide receiver, running back or the best player available on defense (a pass rusher, maybe).
Same goes for the second-round pick of Hosley. Teams can't have too many talented corners, that's true, but they also signed Jason Allen and Terence Newman and they re-signed Adam Jones. They also have Nate Clements and Leon Hall and Stephon Gilmore, according to this mock. So, where does Hosley fit in? The Bengals could use that second-round pick to find their second wide receiver or maybe a running back or defensive end or anything else.
How do you feel about Kiper's predictions? Do you agree with what he did or do you think they should diversify a little?
Share your thoughts.