The Bengals have endured a very rough season both in terms of play and the massive amount of injuries they’ve been dealt.
The team will need to have an excellent draft in the spring if they want to be able to get back to competing next season. They may even have to go against their standard ways and approach a couple of their roster holes through free agency or trade if they want a quick rebuild.
However, with at least nine picks in the draft and the potential of getting more for AJ McCarron and compensatory picks, the Bengals have plenty of draft ammunition to address their roster holes.
Here’s our first take at a 2018 seven-round mock draft for the Bengals.
1. Oklahoma QB, Baker Mayfield
Baker Mayfield is a very controversial figure in football. His fire on the field has gotten him just as much criticism as it has praise, as he has a propensity to take it three steps too far. On top of that, his arrest from last offseason doesn’t look good for him. Despite all of that, he is one of the most exciting quarterbacks to enter the draft in quite a while. He is accurate, evasive and always keeps his eyes downfield looking for the open man. He may not be your typical 6’4” pocket passer, but he has the potential to be a great quarterback in the NFL.
If the Bengals want to take advantage of their draft positioning, it would be the perfect time to find a long-term upgrade over Andy Dalton.
2. Ohio State C, Billy Price
After taking Mayfield in the first, no worthy offensive tackles fall to the second round and the best option is taking the best offensive lineman available. That honor falls upon Billy Price who can be the Bengals’ long term answer at center after letting Russell Bodine walk. One of the biggest parts of success on the offensive line is having a good center so the quarterback can step up in the pocket. If the Bengals can get a good center, it will make the offensive guards’ jobs so much easier.
3. Western Michigan OT, Chukwuma Okorafor
Chukwuma Okorafor has not been playing football for too long. But with that said, he has all the tools necessary to succeed at offensive tackle at the NFL level. However, he is a little bit of a raw prospect which is why he may be available in the third round. If the Bengals are able to realize his potential they will have the chance at drafting a Pro Bowl-capablex offensive tackle. Offensive tackle is one of the hardest positions for which to find quality players later in the draft, so the Bengals need to take some high upside shots.
4. Texas CB, Holton Hill
Holton Hill will be one of the most intriguing prospects for the draft in the coming months. He was suspended for the final three games of the 2017 season for what is believed to be a failed drug test. If he can stay out of trouble, he has the potential to be one of the best corners in the NFL. He has the ideal size to play the position and on tape it looks like he has the speed too. The biggest question with him is if he be able to stay clean. If he can, then the Bengals will have a fourth round steal.
5. NC State TE, Jaylen Samuels
Jaylen Samuels is a 5’11” tight end which makes for some very interesting draft discussions. Whatever position he ends up playing—and it may not be tight end—he will be a playmaker and will be exactly the type of special teams player the Bengals love. He may transition to running back where he can be the third string and a backup at several positions. He also has the potential to play at tight end and wide receiver. He can be an impact performer for the Bengals as long as they are willing to be creative with him.
6. Auburn K, Daniel Carlson
The Bengals took Jake Elliott last year and let him compete with Randy Bullock through the summer. After Elliott missed a couple of kicks in the preseason and training camp, the Bengals awarded the job to Bullock. They quickly came to regret that when Elliott was picked up by the Eagles and went on to make several clutch kicks while there. He’s now a Pro Bowl alternate on a Super Bowl contending team.
This offseason, the Bengals will once again be looking for their kicker of the future. Daniel Carlson is the best kicker in the draft and possibly would have been the best kicker in last year’s draft as well. Hopefully this year the team will just trust whichever rookie kicker they take and go with him.
7. Humboldt State OT, Alex Cappa
If the Bengals solely address the offensive tackle position through the draft they may need to take two dart throws. Alex Cappa is from a Division II school, Humboldt State, so it is a little tougher than usual to project how he’ll play at the next level. He will be playing at the Senior Bowl so the Bengals will be able to get a good look at him there. With a good Senior Bowl week Cappa could easily climb into the third or fourth round as a prospect. He has good size and length and always stands out on his tape, which is necessary for a DII prospect to get attention at the NFL level.