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Bengals Mock Draft: All-SEC in SB Nation's 2-Round Projection

Preston Smith and Landon Collins would be a great way for the Bengals to begin the 2015 NFL Draft.

Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

We're now just 17 days away from the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.

That means we can only post on mock drafts for less than three more weeks and guess what the Bengals will do in the first round. There are many positions that either need upgrading now, or may need a new starter in 2016 if a key free agent at that position leaves.

That's the case with both safety spots being potentially vacant next year, and the latest from Mocking the Draft has them taking the No.1 prospect at that position with their first pick:

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Landon Collins, S, Alabama

The Bengals have starting safeties in George Iloka and Reggie Nelson, but is either actually better than Collins? He could be the long-term solution at the position while Iloka and Nelson enter the final years of their contracts.

Even though the Bengals brought back Michael Johnson this offseason, they still could go with a defensive end early in the draft. If they don't get a DE in the first round, there should be some quality pass-rushers on the board in Round 2:

53. Cincinnati Bengals: Preston Smith, DE, Mississippi State

Although Cincinnati brought Michael Johnson back, it's no sure thing that he bounces back. Smith is a safe pick as a power end who can still get to the edge.

Smith would likely be the best DE on the board if he's still available at pick No. 53. Some mocks even have him going in the latter part of the first round, but he falls to the Bengals in this case.

The 6'5", 271-pound Smith started all 13 games in 2014 at DE and led team with 15 tackles for loss and 9 sacks; he was selected first-team All-SEC. He was more of a run-stuffer his first three seasons in college, but developed into a quality pass-rusher this past season.

As far as possible drafts can go, getting Smith and Collins would be a great way for the Bengals to begin the 2015 NFL Draft.