clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

NFL Mock Draft: Latest from SBN following start of free agency

New, comments

The NFL draft is just over a month away, and free agency will continue to change how many teams approach it.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

It took just one week of free agency to change the biggest draft needs for many NFL teams.

The Bengals don't have as many pressing needs with Clint Boling re-signed and Michael Johnson re-re-signed after a one-year hiatus in Tampa Bay. Depth along the offensive line and another pass-rusher would be nice to address in the first round, but now Cincinnati is in more of a position to take the best player available than they were before free agency began.

The latest from SB Nation's Mocking the Draft still has the Bengals taking a pass-rusher, and it's a guy they should absolutely pounce on if he's still there at pick No. 21:

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Shane Ray, DE, Missouri

Even though the Bengals brought back Michael Johnson, that shouldn't stop them from adding another pass rusher in the draft. Ray could provide some versatility as a player who can line up at end and occasionally at linebacker. If not a pass rusher here, a defensive or offensive tackle could be in play, and the Bengals will have options.

For most of the mock draft season, Ray has frequently been off the board when the Bengals made their first selection. Even if the Bengals go out and sign a guy like Greg Hardy (doubtful) or another quality pass-rusher, they cannot pass on a talent like Ray if he's there at pick No. 21.

His 14.5 sacks in 2014 are a school single-season record and ranked third nationally. His 22.5 tackles for loss also ranked third nationally. Ray was one of the most dominant pass-rushers in college this past season, and getting him in the first round would be a home run for Cincinnati.