With the offseason here for the Bengals, mock draft season is upon us.
Over at Bleacher Report, draft expert Matt Miller did a full seven-round mock draft for all 32 NFL teams. The class he has Cincinnati landing would be a nice haul that should significantly upgrade several weaknesses on this team, including linebacker.
That’s what the Bengals address with their first pick in this mock draft, drafting Alabama All-American Reuben Foster.
A stud middle linebacker from a pro-style 4-3 defense, Foster is a plug-and-play addition in Cincinnati. With his speed, range, power and instincts, he automatically takes over the "Mike" position for the Bengals.
The biggest need for the Bengals will be getting speed on defense, especially at linebacker. The current crew features plenty of big names but no player offenses must scheme around. Foster's ability to track down the run game outside the hashes while also working against tight ends in the passing game makes him a better Day 1 player than anyone currently on the roster.
The Bengals are still a talented team, but addressing the defense will be a gigantic priority before they're ready to compete again in the AFC North.
I think the Bengals will cut Rey Maualuga this offseason, and with Karlos Dansby hitting free agency at age 35, it’s hard to see him being back. Vincent Rey will also turn 30 before next season starts, so getting younger at linebacker would be nice.
Some would argue the Bengals should take a pass-rusher in Round 1, but Miller has Cincinnati landing one of the better ones in Round 2. It comes in Stanford’s Solomon Thomas, who just put on arguably the best defensive performance we’ve seen this bowl season.
Against North Carolina in the Sun Bowl, Thomas was unblockable as destroyed the Tar Heels’ offensive line. However, Thomas is has been a 3-4 defensive end in college, so there’s some concern he can be a 4-3 end in the NFL. I think he’d fit nicely in the Bengals’ defense, but it won’t matter. I can’t see Thomas falling this far, and I won’t be surprised if he goes in the first half of the first round.
In Round 3, the Bengals land Ohio State center Pat Elflein. He’d be an upgrade over Russell Bodine, but that’s not saying much. With Bodine a free agent in 2018, it will be interesting to see if the Bengals look for an upgrade in this draft, or just extend him and pass on center altogether in this draft.
I kind of feel like Miller is trolling the Bengals with his selection of Texas A&M tackle Avery Gennesy in Round 4. Because the Bengals definitely need another Aggies tackle on the roster...
Also in Round 4 is LSU defensive tackle Davon Godchaux landing in Cincinnati. Godchaux started all 12 games and finished fourth on the team with 62 overall tackles, including 8.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. He would be a nice addition with Domata Peko about to hit free agency, and the Bengals need to find someone better than him anyhow.
Here is a full recap of how this entire mock draft shapes out for the Bengals:
Round 1, No 9: LB Reuben Foster, Alabama
Round 2, No. 41: DE Solomon Thomas, Stanford
Round 3, No. 73: C Pat Elflein, Ohio State
Round 4 No. 113: DL Davon Godchaux, LSU
Round 4, No. 142 (compensatory): T Avery Gennesy, Texas A&M
Round 4. No. 143 (compensatory): CB Damontae Kazee, SDSU
Round 5, No. 154: WR Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky
Round 6. No. 195: S Xavier Woods, Louisiana Tech
Round 6. No. 220 (compensatory): DL Tanoh Kpassagnon, Villanova
Round 6. No. 143 (compensatory): G Caleb Peterson, North Carolina
Round 7. No. 232: RB De'Angelo Henderson, Coastal Carolina
All said, I’d be very happy with this class if it came to pass, but we’re a long ways away from these mocks even beginning to be somewhat accurate. Again, I think Thomas will be someone who goes much higher than pick No. 41, but that would be a great get for the Bengals.
What do you think?