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Football Outsiders projects impact of potential Bengals edge-rusher prospects

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Edge Rusher is quickly becoming one of the bigger needs on the Bengals roster and Football Outsiders recently released their annual SackSEER projections for the current group of draft prospects.

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With the news that Wallace Gilberry has signed with the Lions, it's becoming more and more apparent that edge rusher is a fairly significant need for the Bengals right now. There have been multiple well-versed edge rushers in the draft linked to the Bengals, although some more exciting than others.

If you're wondering who some of the best prospects are for the Bengals so far, Football Outsiders has released their annual SackSEER guide projecting which prospects should accumulate the most sacks at the NFL level. A few of the most significant prospects have been linked to the Bengals.

Shaq Lawson, Clemson

On top of losing Gilberry this offseason, the Bengals might potentially want to brace for losing Michael Johnson or Carlos Dunlap in 2018. Therefore, picking up a guy like Lawson in the draft who is extremely talented but may need a year or two to adjust to the NFL seems like a very smart idea.

He's projected to have 22.9 sacks through Year 5, according to SackSEER. Compared to his production in college, that projection seems a bit low. However, his excellent performance at the combine should keep his draft stock high. If the Bengals were to draft him, his sack numbers might not even hit the relatively conservative estimate of 22.9.

But, that's because he will likely be used as a rotational player for the first year or two and may only have a real opportunity to start and produce an impressive number of sacks after his second or third year.

Noah Spence, Eastern Kentucky

Spence was projected to be the Bengals' No. 24 overall pick in Mel Kiper's third mock draft. The pick makes sense as the Bengals are likely to value his production as well as his top-flight performance in the Senior Bowl.

Spence was originally one of the top young edge rushers for the Ohio State Buckeyes before being permanently banned from Big Ten play due to a failed drug test. However, he transferred to Eastern Kentucky and didn't miss a beat. If the Bengals could find a role for him in the starting lineup, even as a converted OLB, they could have an absolutely unstoppable pass rush.

His sack projections through Year 5 are a less optimistic than his potential would suggest. He's projected to have 20.8 through his first try at the NFL level. That's not a bad projection by any means, but it does reflect the fact that he isn't quite as big or fast as some of the other prospects.

The biggest difference between Spence and Lawson is the fact that he was a much more efficient pass rusher in college, putting up similar numbers in less games. He's got all the potential in the world to take the NFL by storm, but the projections aren't quite as friendly due to his checkered past and less ideal size.

Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State

Ogbah is a much more recent addition to the list of players the Bengals have seriously looked at. He's expected to have a formal meeting and workout with the team soon. He didn't quite have the performance at the combine that he would have liked, but he performed well enough to remain in the first round discussion. He's likely to be available for the Bengals at No. 24, but will probably be snatched up if the Bengals elect to try to wait on him.

Of all the potential Bengals prospects, Ogbah is projected to have the most sacks through Year 5. The exact number is 25.6, according to SackSEER. He was a consistently productive factor in college and should have one of the easier transitions to the NFL speed of the entire prospect pool. He's even projected as an effective run stopper, on top of his high-end sack projections.

Therefore, he seems to be right up the Bengals' alley in terms of players they are likely to value.