This is one of those times when you realize that there's no clear direction that the Cincinnati Bengals could take for the 2014 NFL draft. Cornerback? Sure. There's questions there on the current roster. Offensive tackle? It appears more and more likely that Andrew Whitworth will solidify his placement as the team's starting left guard -- not that that is conclusive by any means... not in February at least. Defensive end? An excellent supposition -- but I still see a scenario that Cincinnati retains Michael Johnson, depending on what free agency sets his market value as (just don't get hopeful).
Time to change things up.
With the No. 24 pick of the 2014 NFL draft, Mocking the Draft selects Louisville safety Calvin Pryor.
The Bengals are one of the few teams in the league that can draft for value in the first round. They've built a solid roster and don't have too many dire needs. A few more talented piece in the secondary would be nice, and Calvin Pryor is one of the best players available at this juncture.
Pryor, foregoing his senior season to enter the 2014 NFL draft, was awarded first-team All-AAC honors with 75 tackles, three picks, four passes broken up and two forced fumbles. At the end of his college career -- he was promoted as a stater midway through his freshman season in 2011 -- Pryor accumulated seven interceptions, 14 passes broken up and eight forced fumbles.
Former Louisville defensive coordinator Vance Bradford, now with Texas, said of Pryor:
"He had three games in a row where he hit somebody and they did not finish the game," Bedford said via the Journal Sentinel. "He doesn’t want to injure anybody, but he brings a certain physicality that if you’re going to throw the ball down the middle of the field, you’re going to pay a price.
"That’s how the game used to be played. He did things the right way and that’s what people like about him so much. And he’s a coach on the field—high football IQ. He controls everything. Gets guys lined up. Makes the checks. He does it all. He’s a guy Louisville is going to miss next year and I wish I had him here with me at Texas right now."
According to ESPN and NFL Draft Scout, Pryor is the second-best safety entering the draft -- second to Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. However, Mel Kiper Jr. said that that's not the case for every team.
Don't assume Clinton-Dix of Bama is a lock to be the top safety taken. Calvin Pryor is ahead for some teams. Really close for me.— Mel Kiper Jr. (@MelKiperESPN) February 4, 2014
SB Nation's own Mocking the Draft has Pryor listed as second.