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NFL Mock Draft 2017: Bengals go safety in Sports Illustrated midseason projection

Should the Bengals consider a first-round safety, despite the Bengals’ depth at the position and needs elsewhere?

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Florida State Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Sports Illustrated released a mock draft Tuesday, and they had a surprising player going to the Bengals. Albert Breer also prefaced this mock draft this is merely a mock draft built by what he has heard from scouts and executives from NFL teams. It is all a very fluid situation considering how much team’s positions will change the final weeks of the season. Still this is who they had had the Bengals taking in the first round:

11. Cincinnati Bengals: Derwin James, S, Florida State

James has had a massively disappointing year, but he’s just back from injury and should test well in Indy.

When you think about the needs the Bengals will have going into the offseason, safety doesn’t really jump out.

James has received rave reviews for what he has done at Florida State, but the Bengals are a team that has George Iloka and Shawn Williams under contract for three more years. They also have Josh Shaw and Clayton Fejedelem who have shown themselves to be productive backups as well.

It feels like most national media outlets tend to underrate the Bengals’ safeties, but they are about as good as you get. James could be an upgrade, but given the other issues with this team, it is hard to see them going this route.

Of course, this mock draft was done with last week’s draft order. The Bengals are looking at the sixth pick for now, but it is all still very flexible. According to the Sports Illustrated mock draft though, if the Bengals were sitting there with the sixth pick they’d have their choice of offensive linemen. Including a couple of Notre Dame players.

Quenton Nelson, a guard for Notre Dame, goes to the Jets at pick six, and Mike McGlinchey, a tackle for Notre Dame, going seventh to the Chargers. Notre Dame currently has one of the most dominant offensive lines in college football, so obviously adding a player from that line could be helpful.

Taking a guard that high is hard to justify. McGlinchey could also use some time at right tackle before being ready to take over the left tackle spot.Neither player instantly fix the Bengals’ offensive line, but it’d be a step in the right direction.

Sports Illustrated also has the offensive tackle from Texas Connor Williams going eighth overall, but he suffered a knee injury in September, and given how the last tackle the Bengals took recovering from a knee injury went, I’d think we’d all like to avoid that if possible.

For the take-a-quarterback crowd, this mock draft has four first round quarterbacks. Sam Darnold goes first overall quickly followed by Josh Rosen at three. Then Josh Allen goes tenth overall. The only other first round quarterback is Baker Mayfield at 27th overall.

Andy Dalton isn’t completely to blame for the Bengals’ struggles this season, but he does have to shoulder some of the blame when he misses open throws to A.J. Green. Whether the Bengals go the route of a quarterback will depend on who is the coach of this team next season, and who falls into their lap.

It is looking more and more like the Bengals will have another top 10 selection this season, and if you couple that with a coaching change, this team could have a fairly quick turnaround.