The Pro Day circuit continues with a loaded showcase on Wednesday with several powerhouse programs putting their NFL talent on display.
And of course, the Bengals are going to attend nearly every Pro Day that has NFL-caliber receivers working out. You can count Corey Coleman among them as Cincinnati looks to draft a receiver early in the 2016 NFL Draft. He was on display during the Baylor Bears Pro Day on Wednesday and showed off his speed.
Corey Coleman #Baylor pro day times ranging from 4.34 - 4.37 from scouts in attendance.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) March 16, 2016
General consensus from the scouts after meeting is a 4.40 for Corey Coleman.— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) March 16, 2016
If you recall, the Bengals previously met with Coleman at the NFL Scouting Combine, and he's been routinely tabbed to Cincinnati in mock drafts. So it only makes sense the Bengals showed up at his Pro Day with a dire need at receiver thanks to Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones leaving to
get overpaid sign free-agent deals elsewhere.
But Coleman isn't the only Baylor Bear who could be targeted by the Bengals. Another position that could use an upgrade is defensive tackle as Cincy should try and find a more impactful player to go next to Geno Atkins. With Atkins being so dominant, the Bengals should be getting more production from that other d-tackle spot, which they're not getting enough of from Domata Peko.
That's where Baylor's Andrew Billings could come in. The 6'1", 311-pound 19-year-old nose tackle had 39 total tackles (14 for loss) this past season along with 5.5 sacks. He notched the first Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and Defensive Lineman of the Year honors in Baylor history this past season and was a unanimous first-team All-Big 12 selection.
Andrew Billings is freakish. I know I'm out on a limb with this one, but I still view him as a top-five prospect in this year's class.— Brent Sobleski (@brentsobleski) March 16, 2016
Most regard Billings as a first-round talent and someone who could go 24th-overall to the Bengals. While he and Coleman are the only first-round Baylor targets for Cincinnati, there's plenty of other Bears to consider after Round 1.
Someone who actually got some first-round hype for the Bengals last year before bypassing the draft to remain at Baylor was Shawn Oakman. Once regarded as a first-round talent at defensive end, Oakman returned for his senior season in 2015 only to have a poor season that now could see him fall past the second round.
The 6'7", 269-pound freak of a pass-rusher never consistently showcased his talents in college, finishing his senior year with just 4.5 sacks after registering 11.5 as a junior. He obviously faced more double teams last year, but did little in run support and had motor issues that will have falling in the draft.
Oakman reminds me of what Michael Johnson was as an NFL prospect coming out of Georgia Tech: Athletic, raw and had motor issues that forced him to sit and develop for several years with the Bengals before becoming an impact player. The Bengals obviously need more help at end with Wallace Gilberry potentially gone and both Will Clarke and Margus Hunt on the chopping block this year, so maybe Oakman is someone to watch after Round 1.
Another Bear the Bengals may look at in the latter rounds is wide receiver Jay Lee, who actually met with Cincy back at the Senior Bowl. This past season, Lee started in all 13 games and totaled 758 yards and eight touchdowns on 38 catches. He was a big-play receiver who averaged 19.95 yards per catch, which was ranked 13th nationally and third in the Big 12.
Lee is projected as a late Day 3 prospect who could go undrafted, so don't expect to see his name called early in this draft. It would be interesting if the Bengals drafted Coleman in Round 1 then took Lee late in the draft. Given their lack of depth at receiver, it's possible both guys would make the 53-man roster next season.
But they're not the only receivers Cincinnati is looking at as the draft nears. One big-time pass-catcher the Bengals probably have their eye on is Pittsburgh Panthers star Tyler Boyd, who was on display at Pitt's Pro Day on Wednesday, which Bengals tight end coach Jonathan Hayes attended.
Bengals TE coach Jonathan Hayes was at Pitt Pro Day— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly_Trib) March 16, 2016
One of the biggest receiving stars of the past three years, Boyd joined Pitt in 2013 as a four-star recruit and made an immediate impact for the Panthers. He caught 85 passes for 1,174 yards with seven touchdowns, landing him on the Freshman All-American first-team.
Boyd followed that up with 78 receptions for 1,261 yards and eight touchdowns while his 27.6-yard kickoff return average ranked 10th in the NCAA in 2014. It seemed inevitable at this point that Boyd would be one of the top college football players this past season and a first-round lock in the 2016 draft.
But, Boyd was suspended for the first game last season against Youngstown State after a DUI charge from an arrest that took place in June. He still finished with a career-high 91 catches this past season, but only for 926 yards and six scores. Pitt didn't have much of a passing game though as they were geared more towards the run, which helped lead to Boyd's drop in production.
Still, he's viewed as one of the top receiver prospects in this draft, though not someone expected to go in Round 1. Some still think he's a first-round talent, but I doubt the Bengals take him with the 24th pick. Then again, I wouldn't be mad if they did as Boyd is a dynamic play-maker who would instantly upgrade this offense and maybe even be better than Mohamed Sanu or Marvin Jones.
The Bengals are always looking to add a new returner on special teams player and find some more explosion there, so maybe that helps him rank high enough on Cincinnati's' big board that they actually consider him in Round 1. It also must be noted that Boyd was a high school running back and carried the ball 63 times for 520 yards (8.31 avg.) and one score.