This year's 2016 Draft class is filled with a litany of intriguing prospects of all ages. There are plenty of young prospects, such as Baylor's Andrew Billings, who just turned 21-years-old. There are also some old guys, like TCU's Josh Doctson, who, at age 23, is four weeks younger than the Giants' Odell Beckham. Though age may not be the most important factor teams consider in a prospect, it can certainly be considered in their selection process. For example, though Billings has shown immense promise as a nose tackle, he'll be learning how to become an adult as he develops in the NFL, which can scare some teams off. On the other hand, while Doctson was dominant as a college receiver, it would be easy to attribute some of his dominance to the fact that he was often two or three years older than the players covering him. That won't necessarily be the case in the NFL.
I went back and took a look at the Bengals' drafting tendencies in the first, second, third and fourth rounds of the past several drafts and found plenty of interesting data.
Though it's possible that this could be purely coincidental, the Bengals have shown a strong tendency to take players who are 22-years-old when selecting players in the first and third rounds.
In fact, since 2010, the Bengals have only selected four players who are 23 or older in the first four rounds of the Draft. Cincinnati has selected 31 players in that span, which means that only 12.9 percent of the team's draft selections in Rounds 1-4 were older than 22.
Additionally, since 2006, nine of 11 first-rounders were 22-years-old, which equates to about 82 percent of the team's selections. The Bengals only selected two 21-year-olds in the first round over the same timespan, and they haven't selected someone older than 21 in Round 1 since taking 23-year-old Carson Palmer with the first overall pick of the 2003 Draft. For what it's worth, they also selected 22-year-olds in the 2004 and 2005 Drafts as well.
So does this mean anything? Probably not. The Bengals are going to select their favorite prospect available, whether he's 21 or 22. However, I think the probability of Josh Doctson landing in Cincinnati in the first round is highly unlikely, strictly considering the fact that the only 23-year-old the Bengals have taken in the first round of the past 13 Drafts was a quarterback, taken with the first overall selection.
Other 23-year-old wideouts include Ohio State's Michael Thomas and Braxton Miller, as well as Oklahoma's Sterling Shepard. Laquon Treadwell of Ole Miss won't turn 21 until June, which could also play an impact on his Draft stock when it comes to the Bengals. However, his turning 21 before the season could potentially be something the Bengals take into consideration. Other first round prospects under 22 include Corey Coleman, Eli Apple, Vernon Hargreaves III, Keanu Neal, Jalen Ramsey, Robert Nkemdiche, Vernon Butler, Chris Jones and Darron Lee. Be sure to check out RotoViz's Draft Age Database for more information.
For what it's worth, I'll point out that among wideouts projected to land in the first round, only Notre Dame's Will Fuller will be 22-years-old on draft day. Other 22-year-old prospects who could be available at pick 24 include Mackensie Alexander, Reggie Ragland, Sheldon Rankins.
With all of that in mind, I expect this may be the year the Bengals select a 21-year-old in the first round. But, assuming the consistent age of their first round draft picks is more than a coincidence, I'd guess Cincinnati's first round pick will turn 22 by at least the start of the season.