In case you haven't noticed... we've increased our acknowledgement of mock drafts on Monday for two reasons: 1) It gives us an early baseline to research players in the first round (being obsessed about the NFL for half-a-cycle puts us behind the curve on college players entering the NFL draft) and 2) it explains to us how experts view our team (allowing people like me to stand on the soapbox, with violent arm movements, giving a speech that no one knows the Bengals more than us).
Plus, as an added bonus, it provides us with an excuse to re-examine Cincinnati's state at that particular position. The NFL draft isn't for another four months but, whatever... we've reached the multi-tasking phase of our offseason program.
Dane Brugler with NFL Draft Scout (via CBS Sports) has the Bengals selecting Washington outside linebacker Shaq Thompson.
The Bengals' linebackers were not a strength in 2014 and with often-injured Rey Maualuga set for free agency, Cincinnati could find linebacker help with this pick. Thompson is an intriguing athlete with a knack for creating turnovers.
Where do we go with this? No... there wasn't much production from the Bengals' linebackers but injury was a significant reason for that... and seriously, Rey Maualuga entering free agency isn't that big of a threat. We can't imagine another team submitting a bid that's too rich for the Bengals to match and it's possible that outside interest could be preliminary at best.
Despite the outward appearance that he improved in 2014, Maualuga STILL led the team with 14 missed tackles -- and that's with only 452 snaps played. Of the 12 regular season games played, Maualuga had five missed tackles. As a run stopper, he generated a tackle efficiency average (number of attempted tackles per each missed tackle) of 5.9, which ranks 65th-best among 70 qualified inside linebackers.
That being said, the Bengals are terrible at drafting linebackers. Aside from Rey Maualuga, the team's top-three backers (Vontaze Burfict, Emmanuel Lamur, and Vincent Rey) are undrafted free agents.