Hue Jackson mentioned that he loved Mario Alford at the combine. He added that the Bengals lacked the speed on the outside at times to make the opposing defense respect that position. With the Bengals final pick in the 2015 NFL draft, No. 238 overall, the team has addressed speed at the wide receiver position as well as possibly adding a guy to compete at the kick return spot. That guy is in fact, Mario Alford out of West Virginia University.
Alford flashed a 4.27 in the 40 to highlight his speed. One of the knocks on him is that he needs a few steps to get into gear, but once there, that gear is fast. He has a good push to create separation from corners and has excellent ball tracking ability.
Some other knocks are that he lacks size and has an issue with drops at times. However he has a 5th round draft projection and looks like a great grab in the 7th. He will be a guy that requires the safety to stay with him and will be considered a deep threat. One scout said they would use him like the Colts use T.Y. Hilton.
CBS has his strengths as:
Above average top-end speed that defensive backs have to respect...accelerates well vertically to get behind the secondary, showing multiple gears...sudden athleticism with the ease of movement and twitch to elude defenders in open space - dangerous ballcarrier...tracks the deep ball well and plays above his measureables downfield, elevating and attacking.
Creates separation with the threat of speed, eating up cushions and working back to the ball well...decisive play speed and toughness, not surrendering at initial contact...good hand size for his frame...impact ability as a kickoff return man with a 28.6 return average and two touchdowns in 2014...loves football and it's what he knows best.
Tweets in response to the Alford pick were largely positive:
Mario Alford was the only player in the country last season with receiving, rushing, kick and punt return touchdowns.— Joe Danneman (@FOX19Joe) May 2, 2015
#Bengals have liked Mario Alford for a while. Personally thought he'd have been long off the board, but Cincy seemed to know it could wait— Coley Harvey (@ColeyHarvey) May 2, 2015
In Mario Alford #Bengals get that receiver they had been waiting all draft to select, and they also get a lightning-quick potential returner— Coley Harvey (@ColeyHarvey) May 2, 2015
Alford can absolutely fly. Has excellent return value. #Bengals— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) May 2, 2015