Kevin C. Cox
CBS Sports' Rob Rang pegs the Bengals going linebacker with his latest mock draft. With some questions at the linebacker position this off-season, it might be wise going LB at No. 21.
Its February 13th, a mere 72 days away from the 2013 NFL Draft, and mock drafts are flying all over the web. With many in-house roster decisions looming, the Bengals have many positions they could attack via the draft. In CBS Sport's Rob Rang's latest mock, he has the Bengals taking Georgia linebacker, Alec Ogletree.
Ogletree proved a star in the middle for the Bulldogs, but the former safety's raw athleticism could push him outside in the NFL. The Bengals could use reinforcements on the flanks, and with few obvious hole s on the roster can afford to gamble on Ogletree's spectacular upside.
Ogletree is a very athletic linebacker and would be a nice fit alongside Vontaze Burfict. Burfict could slide back to his natural position at MIKE with Ogletree's speed roaming on either side. Depending on Mike Brown's decisions on Manny Lawson, Rey Maualuga and Thomas Howard, linebacker could very well be a top priority for the Bengals come draft time.
The ideal situation, it seems, though would be for the team to move Burfict to MIKE, re-sign Howard for WILL and possibly use their first-round pick on a SAM linebacker like Ogletree. Other mock drafts that have the Bengals looking linebacker in the first round predict that they'll look at Kansas State's Arthur Brown instead of Ogletree.
More than any other position on the team with an exception of right tackle, however, the team's draft plan for their linebackers will completely depend on their ability to re-sing their own players and possibly sign a free agent or two. They've already signed Aaron Maybin and could look to add another linebacker in free agency as well, if nothing more than for competition.
Ogletree has the physical tools to be a special player in this league, and at No. 21, he could be a real value pick. Look for a lot of mock drafts to have the Bengals taking linebackers with their first-round pick, especially if only one starter from 2012 returns.