When you think of the Bengals' biggest needs heading into free agency and the NFL Draft, defensive tackle isn't one that seems like a big priority. But when you realize Domata Peko is on the final year of his deal, Geno Atkins is coming off a torn ACL, Devon Still has been less-than-stellar in two years and Brandon Thompson was near the bottom of Pro Football Focus' DT rankings, it suddenly looks like a bigger need than it's made out to be.
Needless to say, if the Bengals don't add another DT in free agency, don't be shocked to see them spend a first-round pick on one. As part of PFF's Post-Combine Mock Draft, Josh Katzowitz CBS Sports mocked Minnesota's Ra'Shede Hageman to Cincinnati:
24. Cincinnati - Josh Katzowitz, CBS Sports - Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Three picks ago, I was trying to decide between Justin Gilbert, Kony Ealy and Hageman. Looks like the Eagles and Chiefs made my pick easy. But I'll take Hageman, who's got strength, size, versatility and so much athleticism, and he can spend 2014 learning from Domato Peko - who is beginning to fade and is entering a contract year. Truth be told, I can't wait to match up Hageman and Geno Atkins together on the defensive line, even if Hagemen is a little raw.
In 2013, Hageman was a Third-team AP All-American and first-team All-Big Ten selection. He led Golden Gophers with 13 tackles for loss. According to Derek Harper of The Sports Xchange and CBSSports.com, representatives from 19 NFL teams were on-hand at Minnesota's pro day on Monday.
It's still unclear if the Bengals were one of them, but if they are looking for another big-bodied tackle to wreak havoc on the interior next to Geno Atkins, Hageman might be in-play at No. 24.