The What Would
Jesus Mikey Do Mock Draft
Since I don't spend nearly the amount of time the Bengals scouting department spends analyzing film and interviewing players (actually don't do those things at all come to think of it!), I won't bore any of you with a wish list of "must have" draft picks I feel very strongly about based on reading the "expert" opinions of others. No, instead I'll focus on something I'm much more qualified for (as a practicing armchair psychologist and aspiring amateur mind-reader): predicting what the staid and oh-so-predictable Bengals FO will do at draft time. Books could be written on this subject, except the FO is so eminently predictable, the books would never sell (at least not as reading material but perhaps as a sleep aid or emergency supply of toilet paper).
So without further ado I'm going to throw the "shite" on the wall and see if it sticks (sorry, DeAndre: no fun was intended): Option A assumes Andre Smith is NOT resigned, while Option B assumes the "Pillsbury dough-boy" is resigned. I should note that even if Smith is not resigned by the time of the draft, there's always the possibility the FO is still confident they are likely to re-sign him. If this is the case, I would anticipate they'll put off drafting an OT until at least Round 3 and would probably select a player that can play either side of the line (such as Kyle Long or Dallas Thomas). Ergo, Option A assumes the Bengals have had enough of his crapola (sorry again, DeAndre. Didn't mean to spread any fecesious information) and decide to move on.
Round 1 Pick 21
This is the round where the FO traditionally always fills an immediate need. They may go BPA but it will be in an area of need for this year, as they usually have the attention span of a 4-year old and don't like to plan ahead for future needs.
Option A: D.J. Fluker, OT Alabama, Alt. Choice: Menelik Watson, OT Florida St.
Fluker is the obvious choice, if he's available. He's a man mountain who can take over where Smith left off in the run game and comes from an SEC powerhouse. As we all know, the Bengals FO love the SEC due to the level of competition and generally excellent coaching players receive. While there may be a concern that Nick Saban will sell the team a bill of goods again (i.e. the overwhelming praise heaped on Andre Smith), unlike Smith, Fluker has demonstrated a work ethic and consistently maintained his conditioning. Watson makes a good consolation prize, if Fluker's not there.
Option B: Kenny Vaccaro, SS Texas, Alt. Choice 1: Matt Elam, SS Florida, Alt. Choice 2: Eric Reed, SS LSU
Marvin's got a man-crush on Vaccaro, who's got the speed and the range to stay with WRs and tight ends. The fact that he showed up out-of-shape at his pro day could be a concern but I doubt it would be enough to cause the FO to pass him over for another safety. If Vaccaro is gone and Elam, Reed and Cyprien are still on the board, I look for the Bengals to try and trade down like they did last year and net an additional pick. Elam would be my second choice for who they will pick, despite his limited height, as his 35-1/2 inch vertical leap helps make up for any height disadvantage and he has the aggressiveness and cover skills Zimmer is looking for. Depending on who you believe, Reed may be a Taylor Mays clone who excels at delivering big hits but is limited in coverage. Cyprien won't be considered here due to his small-school pedigree and the perception he needs seasoning (the FO will want someone capable of immediately starting).
Round 2 Pick 37
Option A: Giovanni Bernard, RB North Carolina, Alt. Choice: Jonathan Franklin, RB UCLA
Option B: Giovanni Bernard, RB North Carolina, Alt. Choice: Jonathan Franklin, RB UCLA
Once again, I believe Marvin's got a man-crush on Bernard. Both backs are among the few in this draft class that fulfill Gruden's stated desire to have a RB who can take it to the house, catch out of the backfield and be able to fill-in as a spot starter, if needed. I doubt either will be there at #53 when the Bengals next pick, so I'm predicting they grab their change-of-pace back here.
Round 2 Pick 53
Option A: D.J. Swearinger, FS South Carolina, Alt. Choice: Travis Frederick, C Wisconsin
Option B: Travis Frederick, C Wisconsin, Alt. Choice Brian Schwenke, C California
Marvin Lewis personally attended Swearinger's Pro Day, so if they wait until the second round to draft a safety, he's a pretty safe bet. It doesn't hurt either that he comes from an SEC school Bengals scouts have drafted players from previously. If Swearinger is gone by this pick, I would expect them to turn their attention elsewhere and hope that Bacarri Rambo is still there in the 3rd. Option B's a little harder to predict: since Safety's already been taken care, I wouldn't be surprised if they went BPA but if Frederick or Schwenke are still on the board it would be very tempting to upgrade a weak link in the OL. Both of these players have enough sand in their pants to hold up against big AFC North nose tacklers. I expect Kevin Zeitler to lobby for Frederick and I'm sure the coaching staff would see his Wisconsin lineage as a big plus.
Round 3 Pick 84
Options A & B: Choice a: Jon Bostic, ILB Florida, Alt. Choice 1a: A.J. Klein, ILB Iowa St.
Choice b: Khaseem Greene, OLB Rutgers, Alt. Choice 1b: Sio Moore, OLB U.Conn,
There is a reasonable chance the FO decides to address either WR or DE with this pick but I think they are confident they have their #2 WR in Sanu or Jones and will probably feel they need some young depth in the LB corps capable of eventually replacing an aging Harrison or ineffective Mauluga. Since Skuta is now gone and Rey is probably viewed as the weakest link I would not be surprised if they choose to address the ILB spot rather than OLB. However, Marvin's patience has got to be wearing thin with Moch's inability to stay healthy so OLB is not outside the realm of possibility. Additionally, if the team goes BPA, I've got to believe they may have the OLBs listed above ahead of the two ILBs.
Bostic has the speed and versatility the FO loves and may have the pass coverage skills to be moved outside. Greene and Moore would be limited to weakside LB but possess sorely-needed range and coverage skills. I could also see Zimmer replacing Mauluga with Burfict in obvious passing situations and moving one of these guys into his weakside spot. Klein is the type of big-conference lunch-pail player Marvin loves to draft in the middle rounds. He's not a natural athlete though and would be limited in coverage, so probably wouldn't serve as anything more than a solid backup. The third round may be a slight reach for him but if the FO is sold on him that won't keep them from drafting him here.
Round 4 PIck 118
Options A & B: Zac Dysert, QB Miami(OH), Alt. Choice: Landry Jones, QB Oklahoma
These seem to be the two QBs the FO has focused the most attention on. They've attended Dysert's Pro Day and invited him to a personal interview. While they don't tend to like drafting players from mid-major programs, they don't seem to mind doing so in the mid rounds or later and the relative success of MAC QBs may encourage this pick. Strangely enough though, Dysert has a lot of the same concerns that plagued Andy Dalton: a perceived lack of arm strength and poor accuracy on long balls. I don't think they have a lot of confidence in Dalton as their QB of the future and expect they'll address the QB position sooner than many people think - either in the 3rd or the 4th round. Third round would be a bit of a reach for these two, while the fourth round would represent good value.
Round 5 Pick 156
Option A: Hugh Thornton OG/OT Illinois, Alt. Choice: Alvin Bailey, OG Arkansas
Option B: Malliciah Goodman DE Clemson, Alt. Choice: Corey Lemonier, DE/OLB Auburn
The Bengals love interior linemen with versatility and the size to hold up against AFC North DTs. Thornton has played both LT and OG but is better suited at guard due to his size. He could serve as an spot starter at LT though should Whitworth get injured. Bailey has played both RG and LG. He has the size, movement skills and SEC pedigree the Bengals are looking for. While center is probably more of a priority, I don't see any that would represent good values at this point in the draft with the requisite size to hold up in the AFC North (unless the FO felt like a 300 lb. Khaled Holmes or Braxton Cave could bulk themselves up by joining Moobs at Golden Corral!)
Goodman has the size to play DE on 1st and 2nd down and DT in passing situations. The Bengals love versatility in their D-linemen and Goodman would be a good replacement for Geathers, should he wear down, or next year for whichever DE departs in FA. Lemonier is a more accomplished sack artist and can play either DE or SAM but is smaller than a typical Bengals DE and probably won't be available at this point in the draft.
Round 6 Pick 190
Options A & B: Dennis Johnson,RB Arkansas, Alt. Choice 1: Ontario McCalebb, Auburn
I'm thinking less in terms of a RB with this pick than a return specialist, as the backfield is already crowded with BJGE, a rookie, Peerman, Scott and Herron. Whoever is picked would have to prove his value as both a change-of-pace back and a return specialist to unseat one of these RBs, unless the coaching staff decided to go heavy at the RB position and give Tate the pink slip (I know how much many of you CJ readers would hate that!). Johnson led the SEC in total yardage thanks to his skill as a return specialist, while McCalebb has the raw speed to possibly excel in that area but a slight frame that may not hold up well as a RB.
Round 6 Pick 197
Options A & B: Marcus Cromartie, CB Wisconsin, Alt. Choice 1: Steve Williams, CB California, Alt. Choice 2: Terry Hawthorne, CB Illinois
The Bengals use this pick on some more depth at CB and insurance in case of injuries (e.g. Ghee) or age (i.e. Newman). Additionally, they need a long-term replacement for Newman, although that's never a sure thing when you're drafting one in the sixth round. Cromartie would be the odds-on-favorite if he's still available due to his bloodlines, which the FO is a big believer in, and his size, which may allow a move to safety. All three come from programs where they've faced good competition and have excellent measureables.
Round 7 Pick 240 (Comp)
Options A & B: Marcus Davis, WR Virginia Tech, Alt. Choice 1: Marquess Wilson, WR Washington State, Alt. Choice 2: Brandon Kaufman, WR Eastern Washington
I predict the FO feels they are set for now at WR so don't expect them spending more than a late-round flyer on a development-type player. All three of these WRs offer excellent measureables and size/speed ratios, along with the height needed for the X or Z spot.
Round 7 PIck 251 (Comp)
Options A & B: Choice a: Travis Johnson, OLB San Jose St., Alt. Choice 1a: John Lotulelei, OLB UNLV
Choice b: Jonathan Stewart, ILB Texas A & M, Alt Choice 1b: Vince Williams, ILB Florida State
I predict the FO will draft a LB here and the choice of ILB or OLB will depend on what was taken earlier in the draft (assuming they take one earlier).
Stewart and Williams both come from top-notch programs where they were very productive players. Stewart has good measureables and size, along with experience playing both OLB and ILB, so he gets the edge here.
If the choice is an OLB, I predict the Bengals FO make their semi-annual pilgrimage to the West Coast to find a late round gem to provide some competition for a back-up LB spot / special teams contributor. Johnson is the type of player Marvin and Zimmer love: a try-hard player who produced at a high level despite only marginal athleticism. They attended San Jose State's Pro Day to check out Gavin Escobar, so it's possible they may have noticed him and been impressed. Lotulelei has a similar make-up and as an added bonus he's a pony-tailed Polynesian, which not only means he'll fit right in with Peko and company but also that he can make up for Mike Brown's stingy contract by doing shampoo commercials on the side.