In Mel Kiper's latest mock draft, version 4.0, he gave the Bengals a linebacker, a safety and a cornerback in the first two rounds. With the team's first pick in the draft, No. 21 overall, Kiper predicts the Bengals will select former Georgia outside linebacker Alec Ogletree.
Analysis: The addition of Vontaze Burfict last year was a home run in terms of value, but the Bengals were still deficient in their linebacking corps, mainly because Rey Maualuga just wasn't that good, particularly in coverage. Ogletree can provide some coverage relief, but he'll also attack the line of scrimmage and make plays in the backfield. He can get caught over-pursuing, but that's a good problem to have. Marvin Lewis can bring the best out of him.
It seems as though the Bengals are not interested in bringing Thomas Howard back, and if they are they haven't said anything about it. Right now they either have a hole at WILL or a hole at SAM. If move Bufict to MIKE, Maualuga would move to SAM and the hole would exist at WILL. If they keep Maualuga in the middle and leave Burfict at WILL, which is what they've hinted at doing, Ogletree would fit in well at SAM.
In the second round, the Bengals have two picks. With the first pick, No. 37 overall (thanks, Raiders!), Kiper predicts the Bengals will select former Syracuse safety Shamarko Thomas.
Physically gifted, Thomas upgrades team speed in the secondary.
The Bengals need a new strong safety and Thomas could suffice. He isn't Kenny Vaccaro, but he could start immediately. Thomas is good in run support as well as in coverage and has shown the ability to blitz as well. While there isn't as much known about Thomas as some other safeties, he could be a great addition.
Finally, the last Bengals pick in Kiper's latest mock is former Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks.
Still developing his coverage skills, Banks offers upside in Round 2.
The Bengals have talent and depth at the cornerback position, especially now that they've re-signed both Adam Jones and Terence Newman. They also have Dre Kirkpatrick waiting in the wings. However, Newman signed a two-year deal and will be a free agent again after the 2014 season. Finding good corners to step in by then, or before, is never a mistake. However, Giovani Bernard is still on the board at this point and I'd be inclined to take him instead.
How do you feel about Kiper's latest mock?