We've analyzed Mike Mayock's top five wide receivers and running backs and also taken a look at his top prospects along the offensive line. Today, we're moving on to the next group of players. Quarterback and tight end are probably at the absolute bottom of the barrel in terms of needs in the 2016 draft for the Bengals, right down there with running back. But, NFL teams will be eager to snag these players who are the cream of the crop at their positions.
The Bengals don't need much help at quarterback right now. Should they end up trading AJ McCarron as has been rumored to be a tempting idea, they could potentially look at the quarterback position, but it's unlikely any of the top five players at the position will be Bengals in 2016.
1. Carson Wentz (North Dakota State)
Wentz's stock has done nothing but climb and climb and it will be interesting to see how he does at the Combine and his Pro Day. There was a time last year when some draft analysts wouldn't have even put him in their top five, partly due to lack of familiarity. Went will enter the NFL out of North Dakota State, an FCS school, but, this kid has the whole package. He's got the prototypical size combined with a quarterback brain as sharp as they come out of college. It now seems like a slam dunk for Wentz to be the first quarterback off the board this year.
2. Jared Goff (California)
You could probably argue that Goff is a bit overrated by Mayock at this spot. That's not to say he isn't a good quarterback, it's just that he comes with a bit of a price tag, and that price is time. Goff has pretty much all of the physical tools to succeed in the NFL, he just struggles with his decision making at times. As far as potential goes, he's got the ceiling of Peyton Manning for the right team, but he's also got the floor of Matt Schaub for the wrong team. That's not a bad enough floor to scare away many teams in the first round, but probably enough that you could rank Paxton Lynch or Connor Cook ahead of him.
3. Paxton Lynch (Mississippi)
Sometimes, when people talk about a "mobile" quarterback, they think about someone like Colin Kaepernick or Michael Vick who are more known for having a "run first" mentality. But, the mobile quarterback can also come in a different form, the quarterback who sticks to the pass, but can also extend the play with his legs. Guys like Russell Wilson and Marcus Mariota embody this role very well, and Lynch has the same mentality. Lynch brings a valuable quality to his play, and that's the ability to make quick decisions and read a defense. He needs a bit more polish at the NFL level, but he could be great if put into the right system.
4. Connor Cook (Michigan State)
If you ask me, Cook is the ideal quarterback for a developing team. He's not the sort to go out in games and put up mind boggling numbers and flashy highlights, but he's the kind of player with big game experience who knows how to manage a team. He's a game manager - like Alex Smith. But, you know who was also a game manager? Joe Montana. He wouldn't be the kind of flashy/risky talent infusion that a team on the cusp of greatness would look for. But, for a struggling team that needs to fill the quarterback position and build a potential contender - Cook is the perfect, stabilizing element.
5. Dak Prescott (Mississippi State)
At the end of the 2014 season, Dak Prescott was considered to be the top quarterback prospect for the NFL rookie class of 2016. Here's proof that trying to analyze the draft too early can be a huge mistake. Personally, I still like Prescott a lot. He's got the mobility and the arm to succeed in the NFL, but his attention to fundamentals could hold him back. The Donovan McNabb comparison has been thrown around a lot and but he could also wind up like Colin Kaepernick, who seems on pace to go down as a "one-hit wonder" in the NFL. The best part about him, though, is his ability to stay mentally tough in the face of adversity. If he carries that attitude into the NFL, he could be very reliable for some team lucky enough to take a flier on him.
Tyler Eifert proved his worth this season by leading the league in touchdowns for much of the year and, due to injury, finishing with only one less than the NFL's leader. Tyler Kroft had a solid rookie season and proved to be a reliable weapon for AJ McCarron when Eifert missed time. Throw in the backup sophomore tight end C.J. Uzomah, the productive H-Back Ryan Hewitt, and the sophomore former tight end turned offensive tackle (and then briefly turned h-back) Jake Fisher, and you've got a position the Bengals would be crazy to look at in the draft. Still, let'stake a look at Mayock's top players at the position.
1. Hunter Henry (Arkansas)
It's hard to find many negative things said about this kid's game. Barring a total meltdown or devastating injury at the NFL level, Henry is pretty much your quality-assurance guaranteed super star tight end. He needs to work a bit on holding penalties when blocking and could stand to smooth-out his route running. But, those are minor details for an overall solid prospect with the ideal body type, great blocking skills, and reliable pass catching hands that make him seem like a slam dunk going into the draft.
2. Austin Hooper (Stanford)
Hooper is basically the Connor Cook of this year's tight end prospects. He may remind you a bit of Coby Fleener or Zach Ertz in the idea that he might not "wow" you on any particular level, but his game is well-rounded enough for him to seem very promising as a reliable starter for many years in the NFL. He doesn't make defenders look silly with his routes and he's probably not going to be challenging Gronk or Eifert on the highlight reels any time soon, but a team like the 49ers or Texans would find his services to be very valuable given their current situations at the position.
3. Jerrell Adams (South Carolina)
The common NFL comparison for Jerrell Adams so far has been Tyler Kroft. Bengals fans will know that's generally a good thing, and probably also know that it means that Adams is more polished as a blocking tight end, with some work to do in his receiving game. If he's open and the quarterback throws the ball right to him, he'll most likely make the catch and extend the drive. But, you've got to have a quarterback who will get it directly to him. His ceiling in the draft is probably the fourth round primarily because of a lack of drive in the passing game.
4. Nick Vannett (Ohio State)
OSU fans will probably agree with me here that Vannett probably deserves to be ranked at least one spot higher. He's not exactly the next Gronk, but he is a multi-tooled player with the size and receiving ability that will make him a very attractive draft prospect. He could stand to improve on his blocking ability, but he's got the size for it, so all he really needs to learn are better fundamentals. He's a big guy, but he knows how to move when he needs to. Get him the ball and he can probably mow over a few defenders to get that first down you really need, but don't be surprised to see him dance around them and create plays too.
5. Henry Krieger-Coble (Iowa)
Here's another tight end who I think Mayock has a bit overrated. Krieger-Coble certainly has all the tools required to play tight end, and the fact that he's a former three sport star helps. The biggest problem with him is he doesn't exactly excel in any particular aspect of his game. He can easily burn his man in coverage and can completely shut down tacklers in an entire area of the field, but his lack of starting experience (1 year) and unrefined hands make him a bit of a risk going into the NFL. He doesn't have much potential to be a star, but in the right system he could be a reliable starter.