The Bengals could go in a variety of directions with their first-round pick. We gathered our staff to share their thoughts on who Cincinnati will draft with the 21st overall pick.
Ereck Flowers (OT) Miami – I would prefer a DT because it would help them more this year, but the more I break this draft down, the more I think offensive tackle is going to be where they go. Whitworth and Smith are good tackles, but there is a good chance one of the two won’t be back after the 2015 season. That works perfectly for this draft because most of the tackles need a year of development. Flowers is a massive body and a powerful run blocker with a mean streak. He would be a good fit for Hue Jackson and the AFC North.
I still go with OT being the first round draft pick, barring any sort of massive value grab that just can't be glanced over. I think we'd all like to see the Bengals get Humphries or Collins if it's going to be OT.
My gut says it will end up being either T.J. Clemmings or Andrus Peat. We all know the main target is offensive tackle in the first round. I don't expect mid-first-round guys like WR DeVante Parker, NT Danny Shelton, or OT La'el Collins to fall to them. So, they'll be picking from that second tier of offensive tackles. I still think a trade back is a strong possibility. If a team like Dallas or Baltimore is trying to move up to take Melvin Gordon, Cincinnati could trade back to the late first while still getting one of their offensive tackles and an extra third round pick.
An offensive tackle is definitely in the mix, but I also wouldn't rule out Eric Kendricks, the linebacker out of UCLA, as I still think there are questions remaining in that group. A dark horse could be wide receiver, with five players in that group set to have their contracts expire after this season.
I think it's clear they are going to go OT or DT here, unless a top 10 guy falls in their lap. Just in case you are wondering Randy Gregory is not a top 10 guy to me, he's 15 pounds from being 15 pounds from where he need to be at 6'6"...no thanks. For me La'el Collins is the ideal pick, but him falling would be unlikely. However, lots of teams see him as a pure OG in the NFL so it's possible. I think the pick is going to be TJ Clemmings. He's nasty in the run game and raw at OL, just the way Paul Alexander prefers it. He has the ability to be a solid LT or really good RT in the NFL. He can redshirt in year one and be there if someone goes down at OG or OT.
In each draft, the Bengals love to stock up on players to use in the future. I'm expecting Peat and Collins to be among the Bengals' top OT targets. If they're off the board at 21, the Bengals could trade back a couple of spots to re-target an OT like Humphries or Clemmings later in the 1st round.
I think the Bengals are keeping an open mind about which positions they'd be willing to address with the 21st-overall pick. I also think an offensive tackle is likely going to be the best player on the board, and that's why I'm going with LSU's La'el Collins. He's a great fit for Cincinnati because he could kick inside to guard or remain at tackle as a rookie.
The Bengals have pretty good depth at guard, but Eric Winston is the only capable backup tackle, and he's not even a lock to make the roster. At worst, Collins would be a decent backup as a rookie, and he should develop into a starter in the coming years, especially as the roster spots at OT are shaky after the 2015 season.