The 2013 NFL Draft only a couple of months away, and that means it is mock draft season. We've relayed quite a few, primarily ones that hold some weight, and many have the Bengals taking names from a short list. This time around, CBSSports analyst Dane Brugler has the Bengals selecting UCLA defensive end Datone Jones with the twenty-first pick.
Cincinnati ranks near the top of the NFL in sacks, but most of that production is coming from inside (Geno Atkins) and Michael Johnson, who is set for free agency. Jones was underutilized at UCLA, lining up mostly at zero and five technique in the Bruins' three-man front, but could be a dangerous edge rusher.
Jones is an intriguing prospect for the Bengals because he possesses the one quality most important in Mike Zimmer's defense: versatility. At 6'4'' and 280 pounds, Jones has the ideal size to play either inside or outside on the defensive line. Although he only contributed six sacks for the Bruins in 2012, his ability to shift along the line and play multiple positions adds immense value to his draft stock. In the right defensive scheme, Jones could be a real pass-rushing force.
Currently, the defensive end position is not the greatest need facing the team. In fact, it's not even the greatest need for the defense, which currently has glaring holes at the linebacker and safety positions. Yet with the possible departure of free agents Michael Johnson, Wallace Gilberry, and Robert Geathers, it makes sense for the Bengals to look at potential replacements. In reality though, the Bengals are likely to keep at least two out of those three players, making the selection of a first round defensive end an unlikely prospect.