Mel Kiper Mock Draft: Bengals Get Running Back In First Round

Butch Dill

Mel Kiper's final mock draft is shrouded in uncertainty. In it, though, the Bengals use their first-round selection on a running back.

We're not the only ones scratching our heads about Thursday night's NFL Draft. Mel Kiper released his final mock draft first thing Thursday morning (In$ider) and in it he mentioned that it's a hard year to make predictions about the first round. Some feel that we can blame the lack of star power for the uncertainty as there is no Andrew Luck, RG3 or Cam Newton's in this year's class that are consensus No. 1 picks.

It was reported on Wednesday, less than 24 hours before the Chiefs go on the clock, that they're still trying to decide who they will select. In 2012 we knew it would be Luck, in 2011 we knew it would be Newton and in 2010 we knew it would be Sam Bradford.

This year is different and quite a bit more interesting.

For the Bengals, with the No. 21 pick, Kiper decided on Alabama running back Eddie Lacy.

Analysis: The Bengals have been dying for some explosiveness from the run game for way too long. They also have two second-round picks, not a lot of major needs, and should have an offensive line that's built to provide some gaps for a runner capable of creating major yards on his own if he gets a few seams. I might be higher on Lacy than some, but I'm betting a RB-needy team takes him in Round 1.

Lacy is considered the top running back in this year's draft class, but he seems to be more of a replacement for BenJarvus Green-Ellis than he does a complement, which the Bengals claim they're looking for.

Left on the board at No. 21, where Kiper says the Bengals take Lacy, are Matt Elam, Jonathan Cyprien, Alec Ogletree, a few talented cornerbacks and Menelik Watson. While the Bengals using their first round pick is certainly a possibility, and the mock drafts in which they select Lacy have popped up quite a bit just before the draft (Peter King predicted Lacy as well), it's hard seeing them pass up on a safety or offensive tackle with their first-round pick, especially if Andre Smith goes unsigned before the first round.

This year is going to be interesting. For the first time in a while, we don't really know who they're going to select. That simultaneously makes the draft fun and nerve-racking.

The draft will be broadcast nationally Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

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