Tomorrow night, the Cincinnati Bengals will be on the clock with the 24th overall pick. Who will they select? Your best bet would be to ask former Bengals offensive lineman and current radio analyst Dave Lapham, who has correctly predicted the Bengals' past four draft selections: Kevin Zeitler in 2012, Tyler Eifert in 2013, Darqueze Dennard in 2014 and Cedric Ogbuehi in 2015.
Here's Lapham's prediction, per the Bengals Booth podcast:
"I'm going to say wide receiver, [Will] Fuller, out of Notre Dame. Because, there are three guys who they would take at that wide receiver position with the 24th selection, but I think the other two will be gone. I don't think they'll still be there. There's going to be a run right around that spot once you hit into the twenties. And if I'm the Bengals, I don't necessarily trade up for say, Doctson, if he's the guy that I have as my #1 in that 1C group that I'll call it toward the end of the first round. And then you look at Coleman out of Baylor, a very, very talented player as well; he may be gone. So Fuller may be the only one of those three receivers who fit into that grouping. And Fuller, he provides something unique in that 4.29 speed. He's over six feet tall but he's only 180 pounds, so he hasn't spent a whole lot of time in the Notre Dame weight room. But, he's unbelievably fast; he plays at a very, very high gear. He's been compared favorably to DeSean Jackson's type of speed when he was in college and that projected well to the NFL. Plus the fact, not only his speed, but he's a good route runner. He has a good concept of sinking his hips and getting in and out of routes and intelligent guy, obviously, a very, very competitive guy as well.
...They probably have half a dozen guys they'd be happy with at that 24th selection, but once you go into the 2nd, 3rd and 4th round, there's only a couple of players in each round, or maybe even only 1 candidate at the WR position so it gets very skimpy.
Earlier this week, I conducted a poll on Twitter, asking Bengal fans which receiver they'd most like to see don the stripes in 2016 and beyond. Among the four top receivers that could be available, Fuller was by far the least popular. Bengal fans clearly place an extremely high emphasis on a receiver's ability to catch the ball.
Research done by NumberFire has shown that bad hands aren't necessarily a career-killer, though it definitely can have an impact on a wide receiver's NFL career. However, plenty of the top receivers in the NFL came into the NFL with questionable hands, and many of those players were able to correct the problem. In fact, that same research points out that many of the top receivers in the NFL came into the league with bad hands as their number one knock. Calvin Johnson had a 48.1 percent catch rate in college; other guys like Julio Jones and Demaryius Thomas had catch rates at barely above 50 percent. Even the Bengals' own A.J. Green struggled with drops in college. That's not to say that Fuller's hands will magically become magnets in the NFL, but it's important to note that if bad hands are his biggest problem, we shouldn't just consider him a bust. Any player can succeed in the right system.
[Fuller] consistently runs by people who have been coached all week to give him whatever he wants underneath, but not let him get behind the defense. Even against the best competition, Fuller seems to catch a deep ball every game. He's also broken big plays on quick screens, mostly running against the grain across the field. He is not very big and has more than his share of drops, but when teams try to double A.J. Green, they will have major problems covering Fuller one-on-one.
None of this guarantees that the Bengals will select Fuller with the 24th pick, but the speculation definitely indicates that the Bengals won't overlook him if they like the guy as a prospect. Ultimately, the Bengals are going to take the player they believe will best be able to make an impact for the team, whether it's Fuller, another receiver or a player who plays an entirely different position.