Bengals Roster Needs:
OT- Whitworth is getting "long in the tooth" and Andre has only one year left on his deal. Marshall Newhouse...we won't discuss Marshall Newhouse.
DE- Carlos Dunlap is a monster, but he cant get to the quarterback all alone. Gilbery has one more year on his deal, Geathers is FA (shouldn't get an offer), and neither Hunt nor Clarke have shown enough to consider them viable options.
DT- Geno Atkins was once a man we thought could do it all, but this year he has not looked the same. I think he's yet to fully get back to his pre-ACL tear self, and that next year he'll be back. Next to him is another story; the Bengals have nothing. Thompson is the best of the rest and a key help to stopping the run. Peko is and always has been one of my favorite Bengals. He's a class act, a great guy, but the NFL has just finally chewed him up and spit him out. He can't hold his spots and he likely won't be on the team next year. Devon Still is a wonderful story, but for obvious reasons he hasn't been able to dedicate the time necessary to succeed in the NFL, he will also be gone next year.
KR- As we all know, and (if you're a regular CincyJungle reader, you have read) that we are tired of seeing Tate return kicks and punts. Pacman is a great returner, but as we saw against Tampa Bay it puts him at risk. We still need him as a corner, so he is not a realistic option for every game.
LB/TE- Depending on if Gresham and Rey Maualuga are retained, these may move up the list of needs. As for now, if a good value drops in their lap they should pounce.
S- Ilkoa has emerged as one of the bright spots on this year's disappointing defense. Nelson has been great for a while, but he will be going into his ninth season at the age of 31 next year. The Bengals will need to have a backup in place. If they are unsure about Williams as a true starting option, they may take a safety in the later rounds.
DT/DE- See above for the reasoning, but they will likely have to double dip at both DT and DE this year to fill the stable. One of the drawbacks of a team that is frugal when it comes to free agency is you have to find your pass rushers in the draft, because when they hit the market, they get paid.
OC/OG- Bodine is improving I will admit that, but I'm not sold that he is the long term solution. Boling has been better than expected this year, but getting another guy late in the draft to groom could be in the plans. One way to save this pick is to draft an OT who can play inside initially and then switch with Whit once he is in decline.
7 Round Mock Draft 1.0
Setting the stage
First off, I have some good news for everyone; we will be getting some extra picks this year. The Michael Johnson contract was massive and he has played decent when healthy. I project the Bengals will get a third round compensatory pick in return. The Anthony Collins deal was very large as well, but he has played extremely badly so that will hurt the return pick. He would have had to play great to also warrant a third round return. As you may or may not know, the NFL's formula for handing out the compensatory picks is guarded more closely than KFC's 11 secret herbs and spices.
The picks are handed out at the owners meetings just before the draft, so we wont truly know until then. Factors for consideration include contract received, on field play, and incoming free agents (we all know the last part was zero so that will help). I suspect at the worst, they will get a fourth and a fifth. But I think Johnson's deal has a good chance to bring a third. Paul Kruger signed a five year, 40 million dollar deal and received a third rounder; Johnson's contact was 43 million. This is all another story for another day though, let's get to the prospects.
Round 1 Pick 23 - La'El Collins
Weight: 315 lbs
There are two ways I see the Bengals going with their first round pick. They will either go with a OT or a DE. Big Whit is great but he has a lot of miles on those tires. With offensive tackles, they tend to fall off in the blink of an eye, there is not a gradual regression. In this scenario they can take their future LT and let Whit groom him one Tiger to another. I think they will go OT because the DE and DT position is so deep this year, that they will get better value at that position later. If Dante Fowler Jr. is still available when they are picking, they will have to make a very tough decision. Fowler is another guy I could see at this pick and he is very disruptive off the edge.
La'el is still flying a little under the radar, but I don't think that will be the case for long. He doesn't look like your typical blind side protector; he is a little boxy and just doesn't look like a guy fleet of foot. His biggest strengths are in the running game, this guy would make Hue the happiest man in town. He is a human snow plow, a straight up mauler. Another big positive trait of his is that he doesn't over extend his arms and once he gets his big mitts on you, well, you might as well just sit down because you aren't getting loose. He is good as pass blocker as well possessing the ability to stop the speed and bull rush. If he does have a flaw it is that he will give too much ground and leverage at times when absorbing the pass rusher. He is my top rated tackle for the Bengals, and if we are lucky he will fall into our laps. There are a lot of highly known OT this year so one of them might slide, lets just hope its Collins.
Here are some notes from my scouting partner and Linemen specialist @royleredlegs:
A purely dominant blocker. Power in hands, hips and legs. Drives and moves bodies. Good enough feet to slide vs speed and reach second level blocks. Controls the defender. Has the length to recover if beaten. Can get over his toes too often.
Round 2 Pick 55 - Malcom Brown*
Weight: 320 lbs
This is a guy who I think is the perfect fit to put next to Geno Atkins. He is a great zero technique NT and also is good as a 3-technique DT. He can rush the passer well so the Bengals would have one of the best interior pass rushes in the NFL. There is nothing worse for a quarterback than to see guys busting through quickly right up the gut. He will need to work on his pad level to be more consistent against the run, but those things are correctable. Adding a guy next to Geno who can collapse the pocket would greatly improve this defensive line. Teams will not be able to double team Geno without the risk of Brown reeking havoc in their backfield, and we might see Geno get back to his 2012 sack totals.
Shane Alexander from A1G Football concurs:
@codiki Malcom Brown from Texas would be awesome for Cincy. Put him alongside Geno & let them crush interior OL.— Shane Alexander (@A1GFootball) December 5, 2014
Round 3 Pick 87 - Eli Harold**
Weight: 235 lbs
Harold is not the typical size and length that the Bengals look for in the Draft. They seem to always want the very tall and long armed DE. The Bengals need to adapt what most of the other teams in the NFL are doing. They need a guy who can come in on strictly passing situations and get to the QB. Harold can be that guy, he comes from a base 4-3 defense but he spent a lot of his time in a two point stance along with the traditional three point. He possesses a great inside swim move, speed rush, and bull rush. He is not going to help you in the run game as he lacks the length to get off of blocks consistently. He can however use his combination of moves to get to the QB and apply pressure, something this team drastically needs.
This is a guy that the Bengals can add to the mix on passing downs and could eventually help out in the run game. The Bengals cannot afford to wait on another "project" pass rusher. They need someone who can be opposite of Dunlap right now.
Round 3 Pick 97 (compensatory) - Owamagbe Odighizuwa (pronounced O-wa A-diggy-zu-wa)
Weight: 269 lbs
As I mentioned, in my team needs, this team really needs a pass rush and will likely double dip at the DE position. I see them going back to back in round 3. This draft has a lot of talent at the DE position and if they don't take one in the first round, I think they will sit back and then draft the two top guys that slide to them with their third round picks. Owa is a guy who is gaining momentum and I think he might be a guy who climbs into the late third round.
Owa has a great inside and outside move to get to the QB. He is a very powerful pass rusher, is stout versus the run, and is a very disruptive player constantly in the backfield causing problems for the opposition. He would be a guy who could eventually be a three down DE after he adds a little more weight and strength. He has the proper length to play DE, and although he is smaller then guys the Bengals tend to go for, he uses his length to get off blocks. Even though he is smaller he reminds me a lot of Michael Johnson with how he uses his length to keep separation from linemen and support the run. Another reason I want the Bengals to draft him...think of all the nicknames, he already is called double O, Oh Oh Wa, and O-diggy the opportunities are endless.
Round 4 Pick 123 - Kris Frost*
Weight: 234 lbs
Frost was widely unknown in most draft circles coming into this year, but he really began to catch my eye during the national championship game last year. He is an instinctive and very physical player. He has that same mean streak that we love in Burfict. I see him screaming up draft boards after the combine this year. He will run well and projects as a WLB or ILB in the 4-3 base set. His versitalitiy will allow the Bengals to move Burfict and Frost around on defense to disguise who might be blitzing. Noticing a trend here? The Bengals need to pressure the QB better, their secondary is fine, no secondary can cover for 5-8 seconds per play. Frost seems to play his best in big games, another quality this team can use. His best games this year were against Ole Miss, where he forced a fumble that was recovered in the endzone to save the game and his two sacks versus Kansas State.
He was highly touted out of high school but has had some injuries slow his growth on the field. He is a player who will continue to still get better. Put next to a guy like Burfict, the sky is the limit. He has great hands and speed for a linebacker as Auburn considered letting him play WR this season like he did in high school.
Watch him in the middle of the screen below (#17) as he knocks down two blockers to force the running back outside for no gain.
Round 4 Pick 135 (compensatory) - Grady Jarrett
Weight: 290 lbs
Once again the Bengals will use these middle round compensatory picks to double dip at positions of need. Overshadowed by Vic Beasley at Clemson, Grady might be the better linemen when their NFL careers are all said and done. Let's just say I like to consider Grady as Geno 2.0; he has a great first step, powerful bull rush, and excels at getting in the backfield. He will have to work on consistently dominating games, as he seems to disappear at times. He also is very team-minded, just like Geno, and he's not afraid to speak his mind. When "famous" Jameis Winston tweeted a photo of Clemson's stadium and said "our house" here's what happened as a response.
Our house pic.twitter.com/XuMGQWK0k5— Jameis Winston (@Jaboowins) March 22, 2014
Tuesday, Jarrett said the tweet was "disrespectful," which is to be expected. Then he went a little further.
"It's a guy that wants to make it about him," Jarrett rold reporters. "He wants it to be about him. We'll let him have that, and it's a team game."
I want guys like Jarrett on my teams. You know a guy like that is coachable and will work hard. Those types of players succeed in the NFL. He won't need to play a lot right away and will be able to learn from Geno since they are very similar, it's a great fit. He is great at fighting his way into the backfield with leverage and strength. See him against a good OSU line below.
Round 5 Pick 163 - Jameson Crowder
Weight: 175 lbs
This is the pick we have all been waiting for them to make. A true return specialist for this team. Bye bye Brandon Tate, and hello Jameson Crowder. If Jameson were at a more widely-discussed football school he would be getting discussed in a higher round. Luckily for the Bengals, he plays at Duke, who everyone still sees as a basketball school.
If you liked Hawkins you are going to love Crowder. He is a very similar player with the added benefit of being a great returner. He is harm nosed and doesn't back down from contact, even with bigger defenders. He has good hands and will adapt nicely to playing slot in the NFL. Two birds with one stone by drafting Crowder. He can be the 5th WR and help in the slot, plus he would be the new return specialist.
Round 6 Pick 199 - Bryce Hager
Weight: 235 lbs
In the late rounds, you are looking for players who can make the team and have upside. Bryce is a sure tackler and can contribute day one on special teams. He reminds me a lot of the much maligned Rey Maulaluga. I know he's not everyone's favorite, but we saw how bad the defense struggled when he was out. Hager is a lunch pail guy who won't make many flashy plays but will tackle well and contribute on special teams.
Round 7 Pick 238 - Kevin White
Weight: 175 lbs
TCU Kevin White, not to be confused with Kevin White the WR from WVU, is a good prospect as a slot corner. He was opposite of Varrett all last year and held his own when many teams went at him to avoid Varrett. Speaking of WVU White, he shut TCU White down in their head-to-head matchup this year, and he is a first round prospect as a WR.
White lacks the ideal size to be a true all around corner but has good speed and is a great "in phase" (stays in hip pocket) corner in the slot. He has a quick reaction, decent hands (3 INTs in 2014), and great click and close ability (8 passes defended). The only reason he is not being considered in earlier rounds is his size. He's not a liability as a tackler and he's a scrappy guy that will fight for the ball to the ground (see video). Leon Hall is looking slow this year, maybe he is still recovering, maybe he's done, here's your backup plan.
*Underclassmen yet to officially declare for the draft
**Underclassmen who has officially declared for the Draft
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