Somewhere in the U.S. Constitution, shortly after that area which speaks about the ordered rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, I vaguely recall something about a right to construct a mock draft. I have decided to exercise this civic responsibility and propose a seven round Bengals-only mock draft.
Now that we've entered draft week, you undoubtedly have been assaulted by mock drafts from all sides. But invariably, these mock drafts have been fairly similar in regards to the Bengals' picks. They usually involve a wide receiver in the first, or dare we say, the second round. But for those who have followed the Bengals recent draft trends, they don't seem inclined to draft the position that everybody says they should draft, but rather focus on the players they feel are the best values for their draft spot. So with this in mind, the following draft is an attempt to get into the mind of the Bengals' war room and make a set of selections that could rationally be made by the Bengals, while not following the convention of every other mock draft we have enjoyed, or hated, in the lead up to the real thing.
First Round #24: Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
Defensive tackle or wide receiver? An argument could be made either way. At both positions the Bengals have an elite player, with A.J. Green and Geno Atkins. But at both positions, the team has little behind them. Reed may be too good to skip over if he falls to the Bengals, and fulfills Marvin Lewis’ requirement for his first round picks to hail from the SEC.
Reed is a great upgrade and replacement for Domata Peko, who turns 32 this season. Peko may have one year left in the tank, which fits the Bengals’ preference to let their defensive draft picks play a backup role for a year before taking the reins.
Reed is the perfect complement next to Geno Atkins on the defensive line. He is great against the run, and can hold his ground against double teams. He displays great technique and is rarely out of position. PFF ranked Reed second with a +39.9 grade against the run, and first among all interior defensive linemen with a run stop 13.4 percentage. If not for his lack of pass rush ability, Reed would likely be drafted much higher. But with Dunlap and Atkins being excellent pass rushers, Reed fills the needed role of eating up blocks and stonewalling offensive linemen.
Second Round #55: Karl Joseph, S, W Virginia
Had an ACL injury not cut short his 2015 season after only four games, Joseph might be talked about as a round one safety. But despite only playing in four games, he managed to collect five interceptions and score a good +12.4 from PFF.
Joseph can play in the box as a run stopper and hold his own in coverage. He’s also a very disciplined player with no penalties over his final two seasons for the Mountaineers. Recovering from his injury has prevented him from any running drills at the NFL combine or at WVU’s Pro Day, which could push him down on draft boards of the teams who emphasize post-season measurables over game tape, leaving him available at #55.
The Bengals have shown ACL injuries don’t scare them from drafting a player they feel will help them in the long run, and they tend to grab BPA picks in round 2, which Joseph could be. The team has George Iloka locked up for five years, but Shawn Williams only has one year left on his contract, and a healthy Joseph would be an upgrade over Williams after the 2016 season. With rookie Derron Smith and unproven Floyd Raven the only other safeties on the roster, Joseph could also provide depth down the stretch when he comes off the injury list later in the 2016 season.
Third Round #87: Malcolm Mitchell, WR, Georgia
Finally a wide receiver. Mitchell is not one of the big names, but does provide a big game. The biggest knock on him is his lack of big statistical production in college. Although that was hindered more by an injury early in his career and by Georgia’s run-heavy offensive play calling, than any major deficiencies in Mitchell’s abilities.
What he has shown in his limited opportunities is an ability to adjust to passes with a good catch radius, and make would-be tacklers whiff, causing 13 missed tackles only 58 receptions last year. He has also displayed good hands, dropping just four of 93 catchable balls over the last two seasons.
Mitchell would likely start the year as the third or fourth receiver on the team, before eventually working his way up to the spot vacated by Marvin Jones as the top Dawg on the depth chart behind only fellow Georgia Bulldog A.J. Green.
Fourth Round #122: Max Tuerk, C, USC
The Bengals just don’t draft centers early, and tend to avoid ones who can’t bench press a small village. Also, Tuerk might not be as physical as they like, but is technically sound, and would represent their first attempt at drafting a legitimate replacement for Rich Braham who last played for the Bengals a decade ago. At this point, Tuerk would be too good of a BPA to pass over.
Fifth Round #161: Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona
Scooby, Scooby Wright, where are you? Being drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals. Wright is a very instinctive, very productive linebacker who could drop quite a bit in the draft due to junior year injury and speed concerns. After a pair of great seasons, a torn meniscus limited him to only three games in 201, and he did little to alleviate speed and athleticism questions with a 4.90 time in the 40-yard dash at the combine.
Like Vontaze Burfict and P.J. Dawson, Wright doesn’t wow scouts at the "Underpants Olympics". But like Burfict and Dawson, Wright has great instincts, and is a defensive playmaker who plays much better on film than he tests in workouts.
Sixth Round #199: Kalan Reed, CB, Southern Miss
Despite holding a generally low ranking from draft pundits, Reed put together a great season on video, and bolstered that with a fantastic pro-day. He finished 2015 with the third best pass coverage grade from PFF along with four interceptions and 14 passes defensed in 2015. At his pro-day he blazed a 4.38 time in the 40-yard dash, and leaped a 41.5" vertical, which would have tied the best jump at the NFL combine.
With Adam Jones, Darqueze Dennard and Josh Shaw signed for the next two plus seasons, cornerback doesn’t fit an immediate need; especially when you add starter Dre Kirkpatrick in the mix. But in round six it’s about finding value and potential, which Reed fits. Kirkpatrick is a free agent after this season, and Reed would provide good competition with Shaw for the third cornerback spot, and give injury depth.
Seventh Round #245: Brad Craddock, K, Maryland
A native Australian, Craddock has only recently began kicking NFL style kicks. Over his last three seasons at Maryland, Craddock connected on 29 of 31 field goal attempts inside 40 yards, for a 94% mark, and was an incredible 18 for 23 (78%) outside of 40. His accuracy beyond 40 yards easily tops the highly touted Robert Aguayo, who was only 14 for 22 (63%) at that same distance. Not only does Craddock have tremendous accuracy from long distance, but has good kickoff distance, unlike Aguayo who has a tendency for his kickoffs to go out of bounds. Also, Craddock is a good athlete with multiple touchdown saving tackles to his credit in college.
For the Bengals, Craddock would be an instant upgrade to Nugent. Not only is he a very reliable weapon from distance, but is filled with upside, as he is new to American football. He would also give the Bengals a younger kicker who they can rely on for years to come.
This draft lacks the high end wide receiver that most fans want, but like in most years, the Bengals’ draft targets rarely line up with the fans’ expectations. Consider last year they selected two offensive tackles when most fans wanted a defensive tackle. The year before, they grabbed a cornerback despite having five first round pick defensive backs already on the roster, and selected a second round running back when they had just done so the year before. In 2013 they grabbed a tight end only a few years after drafting a first round tight end, and elected not to draft a safety early, which many fans wanted. In 2012 they drafted an offensive guard, but twice passed on David DeCastro, to the angst of many fans.
This draft also includes an early SEC draft pick, which fits the draft trend in the Marvin Lewis era. There have been 11 SEC players in the first and second rounds since Marvin Lewis took over.
This draft places an emphasis on value over need, and take some more recognizable names, who could slip, such as Tuerk and Wright, in the mid rounds. This also matches the Bengals’ tendency to grab players like Dawson, Iloka, McCarron, Reid Fragel, Josh Shaw, and Derron Smith who fell much lower than was expected, to a point where the Bengals couldn’t pass over them.
Ultimately in this mock draft, I attempted to make a reasonable guess at picks the Bengals could make based on their history, and current player projections. So what do you think? Did it succeed – did it fail?