ESPN Draft Expert Mel Kiper Jr. released his first mock draft of the year on Wednesday. And much like everyone else, Kiper is giving Cincinnati a cornerback -- Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard.
Analysis: The Cincinnati secondary was better in performance than I thought it'd be on paper this season, but there are some concerns going forward at a couple of spots, with both age (Adam Jones and Terence Newman are north of 30) and health (Leon Hall ended the season on injured reserve), so the Bengals don't just need depth, they could use a player capable of starting. Dennard is the most complete corner in the draft in terms of the overall skill profile to work in any kind of coverage, and he brings a great work ethic and competitive temperament to the field. Three words: Ready to play.
As we've pointed out before, the arguments for a first-round cornerback are solid. Hall is returning from his second Achilles injury in three seasons. Newman will turn 36 before the regular season starts and Dre Kirkpatrick remains a relative unknown.