In SB Nation's latest mock draft, no cornerbacks were taken in the first 14 picks. Five were then taken in the final 18 selections of the first round and five more in the second. Cincinnati selected one, Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert, at No. 24.
Justin Gilbert may be the most talented cornerback in this draft, but he's still a bit unrefined in his technique. The Bengals likely won't mind, considering they already have a few established cornerbacks in place. What Cincinnati really needs is youth and skill on the back end. Gilbert has that, but it just may take some time before he realizes his potential.
Bengals cornerback Adam Jones is fine with a first-round cornerback, but doesn't believe that it should be a priority.
"I think we need a corner, but I don’t think it’s the most important priority," Jones said via Bengals.com. "I think Leon will be ready. Same with T. New. Dre. We've got a good group of guys. One addition would be cool just for depth, but I don’t think we need to take a corner with a high pick. We've got a lot more things we need in here.
Hall is expected to be ready at the start of training camp and Newman is already healthy -- despite missing the end of the regular season and the first playoff game against San Diego, Newman would have likely played in the next round in January. Jones is looking (and feeling) good and Kirkpatrick is another former first rounder looking to make a huge leap. Talent was never an issue, just age.
"We've had guys that were 28 or 31 that didn't move as well as Terence does. It’s all relative," Hall said via Bengals.com. "There’s not too many guys on this team you can tell me that move better than (Jones). He’s quicker and faster than most anybody we have at however old he is. He’s just quick and fast a guy like Gio (Bernard) coming in here his rookie year. Age is nothing but a number as they say."
Cornerback is the popular choice but it's hardly settled in concrete. Cincinnati could address the offensive line in an effort to keep Andrew Whitworth at guard and find Anthony Collins' replacement. Maybe they'll go with a defensive lineman -- but as Paul Dehner Jr. points out, the Marvin Lewis Bengals haven't selected one in the first round yet. Safety? Linebacker? Wide receiver? It's all on the board. Like last year, when the team selected Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert, they'll snag the player that's tops on their board at the time that they're making their selection.
SB Nation's mock draft went with USC center Marcus Martin at No. 55.
Martin is capable of playing any of the interior spots for the Bengals and is a good scheme fit. He's a powerful blocker at the point of attack and can handle defensive tackles on his own.
The fact that Cincinnati released Kyle Cook earlier this year makes me want to buy into the pick.
ESPN ranks him as the top-center, above average as a run blocker and pass blocker.
Above-average flexibility and light on his feet. Moves well laterally to mirror rushers. Heavy hands and powerful upper body. Flashes ability to jar rushers with punch. Thick and strong anchor and can neutralize interior power moves. Must work on patience in sets and will get caught lunging making vulnerable to quicker interior rushers at times.
Quick first step and excellent range executing scoop/reach blocks. Above-average inline power and flashes ability to drive and steer defenders off the ball. Must learn to enter contact with better balance and will occasionally fall of blocks. Easy mover in space but can clean up angles climbing to the second level.