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Calvin Pryor Becoming Popular Option in Mock Drafts for Bengals

Could the Bengals go safety in the first-round this year? The best safety prospect could very well be on the board at No. 24.

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Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 Cincinnati Bengals got some surprisingly good production from the safety position. With only Reggie Nelson being the only reliable veteran returning, the team had to rely on either 2012 fifth-rounder George Iloka or 2013 third-round Shawn Williams to take over the starting spot next to Nelson.

The incumbent Taylor Mays was also in the running, but knowing his limitations, Mike Zimmer wanted someone who could be more reliable on the back-end of his defense. Iloka proved to be just that, finishing the year with a +3.6 grade and was the No.18 (out of 67) safety based on Pro Football Focus' grading system.

But while the Bengals' safeties weren't liabilities, they didn't exactly make a lot of plays either. Iloka was rarely in position to make an interception, although he did have six pass breakups. He ended up causing and recovering a fumble at San Diego in Week 13, and grabbed the first interception of his career in Week 16. Nelson had two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Crocker had two interceptions, as well.

Simply put, the Bengals need more plays from their safeties, which could lead them to draft one early in this year's NFL draft. With the NFL scouting combine complete, USA TODAY Sports' Nate Davis' latest mock draft had the Bengals going with Louisville safety Calvin Pryor:

24. Cincinnati Bengals — Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville: The Bengals don't have many soft spots, but this might be the right time to add some pop to the back end.

Davis isn't the only one to mock Pryor to the Bengals, as Matthew Fairburn of Mocking the Draft also mocked him to Cincinnati. Pryor has been mocked to the Bengals across various sites throughout the offseason, but is safety really that big of a need?

If the Bengals want more plays like this from their safeties, maybe it is. There's also a chance the Bengals could facing him if the Steelers draft a safety, as Neal Coolong of Behind the Steel Curtain thinks they may.