The scouting combine is officially over and only pro days and regional combines stand between us and the crown jewel of the NFL offseason, draft day. In just under two months, Roger Goodell will step to the podium inside Radio City Music Hall in New York City and declare the 2013 draft open, sending NFL fans everywhere into a euphoric state of blissful optimism as they confer with one another that this will finally be the year they select the player that forever alters the face of their respective franchise. Well unless you are a Jets fan and you just "boo" like hell regardless of whoever they pick.
Until the draft actually arrives, however, sports analysts and fans alike must content themselves with the next best thing--mock drafts. And with so many different mock drafts floating around, certain trends begin to emerge about which positions are the most likely to be selected. For the Bengals, these positions are linebacker, safety, wide receiver, and defensive end. Regardless of the other holes in the Bengals' roster, these are the four most common positions chosen for the Queen City.
Sports Illustrated's Don Banks continues this trend, selecting LSU's DE-OLB Barkevious Mingo at 21.
The Bengals could take the pass rusher Mingo if they have decided to let right defensive end Michael Johnson exit via free agency. Mingo ran an impressive 4.58 in the 40 at the combine, and he has great athleticism and edge burst, albeit with inconsistent production at times.
Banks' choice of Mingo is based on his belief that the Bengals will allow Michael Johnson to sign elsewhere. The Bengals and their handy franchise tag, however, beg to differ. One way or another, it is highly likely that Johnson will be back in stripes next year. That doesn't make Mingo a wasted pick though. Mingo's exceptional athleticism and rushing abilities make him an ideal fit in Mike Zimmer's d-line rotation. Although Mingo lacks the size to shift down into the interior of the line, like Wallace Gilberry, his addition would help keep the line fresh during long drives and would also be insurance against a possible departure by Carlos Dunlap in 2014.
Does the team have more pressing needs on the roster? Sure, there is no doubt about that. But until free agency helps clear up exactly what shape the roster will be in heading into the draft, we'll just have to take a wait-and-see approach. In the meantime, we can get back to fantasizing about a lineup of Dunlap, Johnson, and Mingo terrorizing the rest of the AFC North in 2013.