Among the Bengals' biggest offseason priorities should be adding an impact pass-rusher to the defense..
As good as Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap have been at rushing the passer, in the NFL, the more quality pass-rushers you employ, the better. After the Bengals’ top two, there isn't another guy who consistently beats his man and pressures the quarterback, let alone sacks them.
That's why spending the No. 9 pick on a defensive end is something Cincinnati should strongly consider. In this draft class, you won't find many guys better at terrorizing quarterbacks than Florida State's DeMarcus Walker. That's who lands at No. 9 in SB Nation's latest mock draft, which is a special edition that only featured seniors being drafted. That means many of the Draft’s top players were not included in this mock, raising the value of many seniors.
9. Cincinnati Bengals: DeMarcus Walker, DE, Florida State
Walker had a stellar season for Florida State, starting strong with 4.5 sacks against Ole Miss and totaling 16 on the season. At 6’4 and 280 pounds, his NFL position is hard to peg. Walker can be effective from the inside and outside.
There is no doubt Walker would be a reach at No. 9, but he’s not one you can be too unhappy with, given the Bengals’ obvious need for another threat on the edge. This past season, Walker racked up 67 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, 16 sacks, two pass breakups, three forced fumbles, and recovered two fumbles.
Among the honors Walker received for his big season include First-Team All-American by Walter Camp, AFCA and Sporting News, and ACC Defensive Player of the year.
EDGE DeMarcus Walker (Fl St, 6'2", 273lbs) has a VERY good swim move though, and powerful hands to disengage blockers. A force when inside. pic.twitter.com/04t9sMtGAp— My Colts Account (@MyColtsAccount) January 9, 2017
That came after Walker was already a stud during his junior season in 2015 at FSU. He racked up 58 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, nine sacks, five pass breakups, three forced fumbles, and grabbed one interception that season.
Walker is about the frame the Bengals prefer in their defensive ends at 6-foot-4 and 280 pounds. He’s already bulky enough that the Seminoles would actually line him up inside on passing downs.
DeMarcus Walker cannot be blocked by interior linemen https://t.co/bVHcp31cUY— Dakota Moyer (@DakMoyer) January 5, 2017
Probably the best play I have seen from EDGE DeMarcus Walker (Fl St, 6'2", 273lbs). Inside swim move, powers through 2 more blockers, sack. pic.twitter.com/bRkCDGQGND— My Colts Account (@MyColtsAccount) January 10, 2017
Still, I have yet to find anyone that has Walker tabbed as a first-round prospect. CBS Sports actually has him ranked 43rd overall, which would put him in range for the Bengals to grab him with the 41st-overall pick in Round 2.
I think Walker is good enough to crack the end of Round 1, especially in a league where pass-rusher value it at an all-time high. He doesn’t set the edge well and will be a liability against the run in the NFL, but he’s good enough to make a big impact rushing the passer as a rookie.
If Walker slips to the Bengals in the second round, that would be a great pickup for Cincinnati, should they go in a different direction than defensive end in Round 1 of the Draft.