Consider yourself a draft expert? Here are the players you should know by the time the Bengals make their first selection in the 2015 NFL draft.
1-La'el Collins-OT LSU- The ideal situation for the Bengals a their future OT and 2015 backup linemen falls right in there lap. Collins is a road Grater in the run game and punishes the opposition from the start of the game to the finish. If you like breakfast, he's your guy, he delivers pancakes all day long. In the Bengals system his weaknesses of holding his pass protection will be minimized because they don't ask them to hold blocks long with lots of quick drops and fast reads from the QB.
2-Malcom Brown-DT Texas-the top DT on my board and if he's there this pick would make me very happy. We all love Peko the person, but his play on the field has been less then desired. Brown will be a real force next to Geno he is a NT that has the burst and power to push the pocket as well. They can have him play the shade tech and stuff the run and turn him and Geno both loose to attack and collapse the pocket in QBs face, which will make them very uncomfortable. Nothing scares QBs more then pressure in their face.
3-Eddie Goldman-DT FSU- He is probably he best for for playing next to Geno because of his size. When he attacks and beats the OG/C his closing speed on the QB is crazy good. He looked like he took some plays off, but next to Geno and with this teams leadership that won't happen here and will be a starter by seasons end.
4-Eric Kendricks-LB UCLA- The top LB in the class that can do it all. He can tackle, blitz, play in coverage and is a true three down LB. The only knock on him is his size, but smaller LBs have been very successful of late because of the increased passing approach in the league. This guy would start day 1 for this defense.
5A-Jake Fisher-OT Oregon- With the best feet in the top of the draft he has some real potential to be a starting LT in the NFL. He has had one of the best offseasons of any of the OT and at this point I think he's a good pick. They can redshirt him and work with him on some of his issues and have him ready to take the reigns in 2016.
5B-TJ Clemmings-OT Pitt- Another mauler in the run game here. Still new to OT, only switch from DT 2 years ago, so has lots of upside to play OT. This is a true ball of clay type of player that Paul Alexander can work with. If he sits, gets his foot healthy, and learns behind Whitworth he could be and absolute monster in 2016.
7-DJ Humphries-OT Florida- This guy would be a top 10 player if you just watched his tape in a few games. He was up and down but has elite potential. He has had injury issues and needs to add weight to his 280 lb Florida playing weight. He added weight before the combine but he needs to sit a year to really sustain that weight. The Bengals have that luxury, so this pick wouldn't upset me. He was rumored to go later but he has been rising fast because of the lack of talent at the top of this draft at OT.
8-Danny Shelton-NT Washington- He is a MASSIVE man and is a great Zero Tech to stuff the run next to Geno. The concerns with him will be can he keep his weight down he will be a nice fit next to Geno to play the shade tech and stuff the middle.
9-Cam Erving-C FSU- My thoughts on their current situation at center are well known. It's a spot that could be upgraded. As an OT Cam struggled with his footwork and keeping speed rushers in front of him. He moved to center and all those issues don't exist, he was able to use his raw strength to create great space for Winston to step up into and for alleys in the running game. This pick is unlikely though since the Bengals apparently had Bodine as the top center last year, which is mind boggling. Still, if Cam was picked he would be an instant upgrade and Bodine could be the backup OC/OG, so it's not out of the question.
10-Nelson Agholor-WR/KR USC-He is a smooth route runner that can help the Bengals in two aspects of the game, as a Returner and as a WR. This is a little high for him, especially since this is a deep WR class, but he's a great player and fits well. It's still a solid pick with the Bengals top 3 WR in contract years.
Picks that will having me pull my hair out:
Andrus Peat-OT Stanford-He lacks the functional strength to hold up in the AFC north. He got beat constantly at Stanford by even some of the lower quality edge rushers in this class. He doesn't seem to have the mean streak that the Bengals like, where he wants to punish the guy across from him.
Ereck Flowers-OT Miami-He has the worst feet of all the top OT and it's not close, think the first slow dance in 7th grade; yeah not pretty. He really struggled in the drills at the combine and his tape is very up and down. He does destroy guys in the run game sometimes, but he can't pass protect at all. I'd be ok with him in round 2 as a RT project, but not this high. He's got high bust potential to me, to me he's a lesser version of Andre Smith.
Randy Gregory-OLB/DE Nebraska-He really doesn't fit this teams style or player profile. He's 15 pounds from being 15 pounds from where he would need to play at. It will be really hard for him to add that weight and keep it on, and keep his athleticism. He just had a pot charge and the Bengals likely won't risk a first rounder on a guy like this.
Bud Dupree-OLB/DE Kentucky-I can already see you all scrolling to the comment section to say how awesome Bud is going to be because of how athletic he is. The Bengals don't need anymore project pass rushers and that what Bud is. He has tremendous upside but needs to be put in a specific role because his football IQ has been questioned and he struggles to turn the corner and get to the QB.
Stephone Anthony-LB Clemson He is a t perfect fit to be the MLB of the future for this team. He is the ideal size and is very athletic. He has good instincts and is a sure tackler.
Carl Davis-DT Iowa This would be another great selection because he would be a great fit next to Geno. His play was a little up and down, so that's why he could fall to this spot but you see flashes in his play of what he could be.
Xavier Cooper-DT/DE Washington StateVery versatile and productive DT that plays both the run and pass well. Will need to continue to develop, but will be a very good starter at DT for many years. He's more similar to Geno as an attacking DT and could be a better 5-tech in a 3-4 for system. Based on talent alone it's a good pick.
Michael Bennett-NT OSU-Here's another guy that is a good fit next to Geno. He is pretty athletic and shows good explosion for a guy his size at NT. He can help stuff the run and get some added pressure on the QB when asked to. He is slightly lower graded then Carl Davis, but is still a pick that would cause high fives in the Bengals war room.
Jordan Philips-NT Oklahoma- To be as big as Philips is, yet be as agile is not something you see every day. If he didn't have the back issue and injury questions this guy would be getting top 15 consideration. He is a massive player that can stuff the run and does have some decent pass rush abilities for a guy as big as he is. He has Ngata upside, but injuries could keep him from ever reaching his potential.
Ha'oui Kikaha- OLB/DE Washington-Here is where risks meet reward. Would you believe a guy who had 19 sacks in a power 5 conference is still on the board? Well, he is, and he's a monster on the field, but getting him on the field was difficult. He had two ACL injuries that needed replacement, so his health is a real concern. He would be the perfect fit to play SLB and Pauly G's "thumper" that can play DE on known passing situations. Big risk, but big reward.
Quinton Rollins-CB/S Miami (OH)- A converted basketball player that can play CB or Safety on the next level. His aerial ball skills are great and that's his best asset as a defensive back. He plays the ball well and many times he times his attack of the ball better then the WR.
Devin Smith- Speed WR- OSU- If you want a speedy WR that can take the top off a defense this is your guy. He's quicker then gossip and he's a pretty good route runner as well. His ability to time and track the deep ball makes him nearly impossible to cover on deep passes. He consistently will slow his route in the middle to make sure he hits the pass full stride and can take it to the house.
Justin Hardy-WR ECU- An extremely productive player despite his teams poor QB situation. Great at improvising when plays break down. A do it all type like Sanu, YAC potential, and a natural football player. Wills himself open and to the ball, relentless demeanor.
Grady Jarrett-DT Clemson- Do you like Geno Atkins? Well Grady is a poor man's Geno Atkins and a perfect player to learn from him. A great 3-tech attacking DT, a little undersized but uses leverage and initial burst to live in the backfield. Uses power, leverage, and motor to be a constant threat. Can improve in the run game and at times his head writes checks his body can't cash and causes him to miss tackles or be out of place.
Henry Anderson- Hank the Tank as I will call him if he becomes a Bengals may look like a beer league softball player, but he's actually one of the most athletic DL in this draft. He played as a 5-tech in college, but would be the perfect heir to the Wallace Gilberry role here in Cincinnati. Can stuff the run on the edge and rush the passer as a DT. He's a long and uses his length to fend off blockers and has a great tackling radius.
Paul Dawson-LB TCU- Dawson is not the athletic freak that some of the other linebackers in this class are, but he's a football player and a solid one at that. With his combine them Pro day times he dropped from an early second round type of player to a third round steal. He is probably best fit at will linebacker but could play the other positions if necessary. Has great awareness, he's very versatile, and the solid blitzer. Need to work on his coverage to be a three down backer but something that he could definitely do.
Anthony Chickillo- DE Miami- He was used as a 5-tech in college, but it was the wrong position for him. He is best suited as a pure 4-3 DE. The system they had him run in Miami didn't allow him to shine his athletic ability. You would see flashes during his games when they would "turn him loose" and that's why I think he will be a better pro than he was collegiate athlete. In the bingo system QB perfectly suited to set the edge versus the run and provide pass rush around the edge.
Steven Nelson-CB Oregon State- Nelson is another one of my favorite players in this draft and is severely underrated by the national media. Even though he is only 5'10" he is not afraid to mix it up take on blocks, and may tackles. His form when tackling is less than desirable, but he gets the job done nonetheless. He's a solid man coverage corner, the most common Bengals defense, and he's adequate in zone coverage as well. He is good change of direction speed and closes fast once he reads the play. He's a great corner for them to take in the mid-rounds and develop for the future.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu-CB/S Oregon- Much like any NFL draft there are some players who are available in the later rounds because of injuries. This year one of those guys is Ifo. Had he not gotten injured before the college football playoffs hewer of likely been a first-round selection. Rumors have recently surfaced that his knee injury was worse in the ACL tear that he was originally diagnosed with. This could all be part of the "smoke and mirrors" that happens near the end of the draft, or he truly could of had a injury to his knee that was much more devastating. Teams will have very thorough doctor reports on his knee and can make it much more educated guess to his ability to recover. If the knee injury is something they think he will fully recover from he would be a great selection this late in the draft. Especially for a team like the Bengals that have the luxury of being able to not have to play him much this year.
Senquez Golson-CB Ole Miss- Nicknamed the "land shark" Golson is a gritty, aggressive, and physical corner. He could be a great addition as a nickel corner or slot corner of the future. He would also contribute well on special teams. He's got good closing speed and long speed to keep up with speedy receivers from the slot. He can give up some big plays with his aggressive style of defending, but also jumps a lot of routes making interceptions and breaks up passes.
Daryl Williams-OT Oklahoma- If the Bengals are looking for a replacement for Andre Smith in 2016, Darrell Williams is there guy. At 6' 5" he has the size that you look for in an NFL right tackle. Doesn't have the foot speed to play left tackle, but has strong hands and gets to the second level well, so he should excel as a right. He's a very effective run blocker that keeps his feet churning to finish his blocks.
Eric Rowe-CB/S Utah-He is a little stiff to be an NFL corner, but has better's ball skills than you expect from a safety. Played a hybrid role at Utah with games at both free safety and corner. He's a good project at cornerback, but if he fails there he could definitely play safety and the NFL. Doesn't have the best anticipation and reaction to the ball, but does have good Arial skills allowing him to break up a decent number of passes.
Dorial Green Beckum- WR Missouri- If you want a polarizing draft prospect just bring up DGB. He is a physical specimen with his size and speed combination that is rarely seen. Couple that with a great leaping ability his catch radius is enormous. The problem with DGB is not on the field it's off the field. If he had a clean character evaluation he would be a lock to go in the top 40, if not higher. He still may be long gone by round three, but this is the earliest I can see the Bengals considering drafting him. His off the field troubles include marijuana usage (he was caught with a pound of weed, I'm not sure that's for personal use), domestic violence (he shoved a girl down a flight of stairs, then tried to pay them to quiet up about the charges), and was dismissed from Missouri because of these issues and other things that happen before. The one thing you can say about DGB is that he didn't have an easy childhood, but that's no excuse for his actions. NFL won't tolerate it he will come in with one strike on the personal conduct policy for his first NFL snap. This is why I think the Bengals will wait until at least the mid-rounds to consider him, because that is when the reward will outweigh the risk. If he messes up with the new NFL CBA they can just cut him and move on without the Penalties that used to come with early picks.
Jeff Hauerman-TE OSU- if the Bengals are looking for you will a young replacement for Jermaine Gresham then this is their guy. He is the best blocker in this class and uses leverage and angles can open holes for the running backs. Does a good job of using his power and links to seal blocks and create alleys. He's not a outstanding athlete, but does a good job of fighting for extra yards after the catch. Has good hands, but is not great at locating the ball which keeps them from being an above average pass catcher.
Tyler Lockett- Slot WR- Kansas State- If you stand by the theory "it's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog" and you will love Tyler Lockett. Lockett may be undersized, but he's a very good route runner and he's shifty so defenders have a very difficult time guarding him. He can also help the Bengals in the return game as he's a very good kick return and punt return specialist. If drafted, I am confident he would be a day one starter in the slot and help the Bengals tremendously in the field position battle on special teams. He has the speed you need from the slot to take the lid off of a defense, very good athlete, and great at using his body to deceive the defense on what route he is running. Because of his size he can get bodied and press coverage and struggle, but from the slot they should be able to use motion and other things to keep him clean on his release.
James Sample-SS Louisville- Before this season all of the hype was on global safety Gerald Holloman. When you watch Louisville football games the guy who catches your eye is James Sample. Holloman is more known because he gets the interceptions and makes the splash plays, but sample is the guy doing the dirty work. It's a much better tackler and is willing to help out in the box against the run. He's adequate in coverage and is one of my favorite players that could set behind Reggie Nelson this year and take over in 2016.
Ben Heeney-LB Kansas- If you watched any Bengals games last year, then you know they have a need at linebacker. He is an athletic player with a high motor and is very instinctive. You will need to add some strength to help fend off blockers as he tends to get swallowed up at times. He is a gritty player that plays like a man possessed sometimes. He is a player with a lot of upside that could help in nickel packages right away.
Taiwan Jones-LB Michigan State- Jones is a bigger linebacker, that can provide some real thought from the position. He plays very downhill and is not afraid to sacrifice his body and crash into oncoming blockers. Has lots of experience at the position, which shows in his high awareness on the field. Plays with some swagger, intensity, and is confident enough to be at the leader of the defense. Doesn't have a leet measurables and bull need to work on his technique in pursuit, but could be a solid starter in the NFL.
Kyle Emmanuel-OLB North Dakota State- I first noticed him when I was watching the NFL combine and wondered who was the guy going through all the drills like a crazy man. When I started to watch him on film I quickly found out that that endless motor was just how he plays at all times. He was the FCS defensive player of the year and is a very elite athlete at the position. He can offer help in the running game and as a pass rusher. He's a very competitive player which is great because he gives maximum effort and tries to do everything he can to win, but it also caused him to make a few mistakes when he tried to do too much. In the scouting and coaching circles he is known as a gritty player who will give you everything he has on every play, that's the type of player every team is looking to add to their roster. He would be drafted much higher if he was playing at a power five school, but the lower level of competition will cause him to fall to the later rounds.
Ben Koyak-TE Notre Dame- I am a little bit higher on him and some others are but maybe that's because I like Notre Dame and watched him more than other prospects. I feel like he was pretty underutilized in their system and is a really good project player at the tight end position. Since the class is so weak this year I think that's were the real value is taking a player that you can develop and have a solid starter two years down the road. He lacks the functional strength to be a excellent blocker, but gives tireless effort when blocking, so you know if he is able to add strength he will be a very good blocker. Has strong hands to catch in traffic and soft hands to catch consistently and he is a pretty good route runner. Has the athletic ability to become a very good tight end in the NFL, but as I stated he is a project to develop over time.
Tyler Kroft-TE Rutgers- He is a very large target at 6'6" and is a fast player with good athleticism. He struggled to really show his ability at the college level due to the lack of quarterback play at Rutgers. He isn't the best route runner, but does a good job of using his strength and agility to get separation. He could be a diamond in the rough because his upside is great with his rare blend of size and speed. Who knows what kind of numbers he could of put up in college with an above-average quarterback.
Stefon Diggs-WR Maryland- If you've noticed the trend the yet almost all the receivers I have on this list are also good returners. The Bengals mentioned that they want a combo receiver who can help in the return game and be a a receiver for them. Diggs is another guy that fits that mold, he is an excellent returner and is a good receiver as well. Throughout his career Maryland he never really had a good cornerback, but still found ways to produce. He is a good route runner, but could work on his blocking and has had issues with durability. He can play from the slot and also offer a deep threat with his combination of speed and quality ball tracking.
Marcus Hardison-DT Arizona State- One of the most underrated players in this draft hails from Arizona State. He is another guy that might have played out of position in college and would be better suited as a five technique in the NFL. He has a limited time at the Division I level and a power conference, but there is a lot of upside potential with him. Since the Bengals would not need him to play a lot right away they could essentially redshirt him and let him develop for the future.
Jake Ryan- LB Michigan- He is a very versatile, and cerebral player. He has experience at OLB and MLB but is probably best suited as an SLB. Is a very high motor player and was clearly the leader of that defense. Good speed and athleticism, but doesn't take great angles and sometimes struggles with shifty players, so as not a great tackler. Has had some injury issues and seems to try to guess on run versus pass which can get him in trouble
Tre McBride-WR William & Mary-If Tre McBride had played added Division I school we'd probably be talking about him as a top 50 pick. However, he went to what I am and Mary, so that affects his draft stock. He has a big frame, he's fast, has a good catch radius, and a very natural ability to find and track the ball. His biggest hurdle be adjusting to the speed of the NFL game and the increased ability of the opposition. With the right coaching he could be a good starter in the NFL, we also all what Hue Jackson did with Chad Johnson and TJ Houshmandzadeh, so I am confident he could do the same with a player like McBride.
Kevin White-CB TCU- If the Bengals are looking for a nickel corner to take over for Leon Hall after 2015, then Kevin white is a good target for them. He is a smaller player, so he can struggle with bigger receivers and he doesn't have delete speed so he can get beat deep as well. He's like a little pit although, he has a mean streak in place very tough. As a nickel corner he would play a lot of zone coverages and be able to use his quickness to read and react and attack the ball four pass breakups or interceptions. Not as much upside with this pick, but would be a solid nickel corner.
Andy Gallik-C Boston College- He is your typical he is your typical "lunch pail" offense of lineman from Boston College. He's not super athletic, not extremely physical, but finds a way to get the job done. He's a smart player that could come in and give some competition to Russell Bodine at the center position. Worst case scenario he would be a solid backup in case Bodine were to go down with injury.
Marcus Golden- DE Missouri- With all of the negative headlines Shane Ray has made over the last two months, the casual fan probably doesn't even know who Marcus Golden is. He was a very productive player across from Shane Ray that might actually end up being the better NFL player. He is a high-energy and high motor player that could fill in the Wallace Gilberry DE/DT role. Is not shy about mixing it up in the running game and does a good job of disengaging blockers then attacking the ball. Has some strength with his bullrush to push guys back and put pressure on the quarterback from the edge. He's a guy that may never be the best player on your team, but will be a productive NFL player.
Rashad Green-Slot WR Florida State- He was the number one option for Jameis Winston in the Florida State offense. Some believe his numbers could be inflated because of Winston's caliber at quarterback. He tests as a better athlete than he shows on the field, which is concerning. It'll most likely have to play in the slot in the NFL so that he can get a clean release as he struggles to get open otherwise. His best option in the NFL will be finding holes in zone defenses as a possession receiver. Too many times he lets the ball get into his pads instead of catching it with his hands which typically means he could struggle on the NFL level. But at this point in the draft he is worth a flyer as a future slot receiver.
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