This year is no different as UCLA held their Pro Day on Tuesday with several first-round prospects working out. The most notable player there was linebacker Myles Jack, whom most regard as a top-five talent and maybe even a target of Hue Jackson and the Cleveland Browns'.
Don't even bother dreaming of that all-world talent making it to the Bengals at 24, but another Bruin who could be in consideration there is defensive tackle Kenny Clark. The 6'3", 314-pound mammoth is exactly the kind of nose tackle the Bengals should draft with Domata Peko continuing to age.
Peko's decline has been painfully evident in most of the Bengals' playoff losses as they've been gashed right up the middle as Peko was worn down by then. He still has enough to be a solid player next year, but the Bengals must add another body at the position to take the load off and eventually replace him.
Clark would fit the bill, and if the Bengals don't like the receivers on the board, it wouldn't be a big surprise to see Clark be the 24th-overall pick. He's been mocked to Cincy several times this offseason, but most of those were before wide receiver became the biggest need after free agency began.
Speaking of receivers, the Bruins have a pair of pass-catchers to watch out for on Day 3. Wide receiver Jordan Payton is someone who may sneak into the end of Day 2 after a standout senior season. The 6'1", 213-pound wideout caught 75 passes for 1,068 yards and four touchdowns in 2015.
Payton also became the school's all-time reception leader and first to go over 200 catches (201) for his career. He finished his career with starts in 33 straight games and may be as ready as any receiver in this draft to play right away. He also finished 2015 with 14 catches of 25-plus yards, so that big-play potential is there to possibly replace what Marvin Jones gave the Bengals in that regard.
Another Bruins receiver to watch for is Thomas Duarte. The 6'2", 231-pound Duarte is actually listed by some services as a tight end prospect, but not the kind you'd want blocking.
Think Washington tight end Jordan Reed, who is almost exclusively a pass-catcher and doesn't really play like a traditional tight end. That's who Lance Zierlein competed Duarte to.
NFL COMPARISON: Jordan Reed
BOTTOM LINE: Duarte is an interesting study as his draft value and overall grade could be tied directly to whether or not a team believes they can make him work as move tight end. Duarte has the athleticism, size and play speed to make a roster as a wide receiver, but his draft value may not be as high if teams see him as a receiver only. Matchup tight ends are all the rage and Duarte can play with more weight and a little more willingness as a run blocker, he’s got a shot to become a productive NFL player.
This past season, Duarte caught 53 passes for 872 yards and a team-best 10 touchdowns and was named to the All-Pac-12 second-team. Depending on what the Bengals view him as could determine whether they consider him, but probably not before Day 3 in either regard.
One other Bruin to mention is running back Paul Perkins, who is third on UCLA’s all-time rushing list. This past season, Perkins rushed for 1,343 yards and 14 touchdowns. In 2014, he rushed for a PAc-12 high 1,575 yards to go with nine touchdowns.
Perkins is a quality running back who I could see becoming a starter one day, but he's expected to go around the third round. If he's there in the fourth, I could see Cincinnati taking him just because he'd be great value, but this isn't exactly a position where there's room for another back, even one as good as Perkins.
University of Manitoba
The Bengals aren't just looking at American prospects as they attended University of Manitoba's Pro Day to watch defensive tackle David Onyemata. Cincinnati previously met with Onyemata at the East-West Shrine Game, so there appears to be legitimate interest in the Canadian star who apparently put on a show at his Pro Day:
NFL scouts were wowed today by David Onyemata's pro day stats. 33 on bench, 5.09 forty, 10 ft broad jump and 82 inches plus wing span— gary lawless (@garylawless) March 14, 2016
While he's barely projected among the top 350 draft prospects, Onyemata appears to be someone to watch for in the latter rounds or as soon as the draft ends. The Bengals certainly need more depth there.
Another Pro Day the Bengals attended on Tuesday was a little closer to the Queen City as the team was represented at Bowling Green's Pro Day. They don't have much NFL talent, but one name to watch for is wide receiver Roger Lewis.
Classified as redshirt sophomore in 2015, the 6'1", 201-pound receiver caught 85 passes for 1,544 yards and reeled in 16 touchdowns in his second year with the Falcons before turning pro. Originally a three-star commitment to Ohio State, Lewis was charged with two counts of rape while in high school. He was found not guilty on one charge while the other was resolved in a plea deal.
There's a lot of red flags there, and despite a lot of talent at a position the Bengals need help at, it's hard to see him being considered based on the way they've recently drafted.
Another Falcon prospect to consider is running back Travis Greene. This past season as a senior, Greene had 222 rushes for 1,298 yards (5.8 avg) with 15 scores to go with 27 grabs for 237 yards (8.8 avg) and two more scores. He's more likely to be someone the Bengals look at after the draft for running back depth in training camp and the preseason.