The start of NFL free agency is upon us, and ESPN's Mel Kiper put out his latest mock draft before the madness starts.
At this point, there aren't many big changes in his mock, and he still has the Bengals addressing their defensive line with the 21st overall pick. However, it's with a name you may have not seen mentioned with Cincinnati much.
Virginia's Eli Harold is viewed as a fringe first-round pick by many services, but Kiper has the Bengals taking him with their first-round pick:
Harold isn't the total package in terms of his ability to counter when he gets blocked or display great awareness against the run, but the guy has tremendous get-off and is an exceptional athlete who can beat people with quickness. The Bengals can't go wrong if they add a pass-rusher here.
It's a deep class of pass-rushers, so hopefully if the Bengals want to add one, they won't be forced to reach in the first round for their choice. Harold would be a quality pickup here, but he's not as good as Bud Dupree, Arik Armstead or Vic Beasly, who've all been mocked to Cincinnati in many drafts.
Kiper also still see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers taking Jameis Winston with the No.1 overall pick:
Winston is a major talent, in a category with some of the big-name No. 1 QB picks we've seen. He's the most NFL-ready QB in the draft. He's big, durable, strong-armed and has both a high football IQ and an ability to read, anticipate and process at a very high level what defenses are trying to do. This is no lock, but it makes sense.
As for the second best QB, Kiper sees the New York Jets taking Oregon's Marcus Mariota:
I do think Mariota has been fantastic during the process, with very good workouts and spectacular interviews at the NFL combine, and I think he's been able to assuage some fears that he was merely a system-keeper at Oregon. You can question whether he's ready to help a team win games in 2015, but you can't question Mariota's physical profile or his potential to improve and grow as an NFLuarterback given his attitude and work habits.
The NFL draft is just two months away, and many team's needs will dramatically change over the next few weeks as NFL free agency opens.