When the Bengals are on the clock in April's NFL Draft, the team will have some intriguing options available on both sides of the ball.
On defense, arguably the draft's best linebacker could be available in Alabama's Reuben Foster. That's who USA Today’s Nate Davis has landing in Cincinnati in his latest mock draft.
9. Cincinnati Bengals — Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama: It's about time for Cincinnati to reload at linebacker, especially given the reliance on a wild card like Vontaze Burfict. Foster can bring the wood in base packages but also seems to have the cover skills to stay on the field in sub packages.
In terms of upgrading the Bengals' defense, Foster could be the best option at No. 9, but that doesn't necessarily mean he'd make an immediate impact. With Rey Maualuga still under contract to go with Vontaze Burfict, Vincent Rey and Nick Vigil, Foster could be in for a redshirt year if all of those guys are back in 2017.
That said, Foster has as good of a long-term outlook as any player the Bengals could select in the first round. He should be a force in the middle for many years to come, and he’d help make this defense great again very soon.
But if the Bengals choose to go offense at No. 9 and want an instant-impact guy, they can't go wrong with LSU's Leonard Fournette. That's who SI’s Chris Burke has the Bengals taking in his latest mock.
9. Cincinnati Bengals — LEONARD FOURNETTE, RB, LSU
Jeremy Hill has spent the past two seasons averaging fewer than 4.0 yards per carry—a disappointing development that could put his roster spot in jeopardy for 2017. Enter Fournette, who could elevate the Bengals’ run-game thunder alongside Gio Bernard’s lightning.
Arguably the draft's best running back, Fournette is much more likely to make a major impact as a rookie than maybe anyone the Bengals could take at No. 9. Even if the Bengals lose Kevin Zeitler and/or Andrew Whitworth, Fournette is the kind of elite back who makes any offensive line better, even one that has arguably the worst NFL starting center.
If the Bengals are going to keep rolling out a line that has Bodine and other replacement starters, they need an elite back who can make up for their shortcomings. Fournette is far more capable of doing this than Jeremy Hill or Giovani Bernard coming off an ACL tear.
So if it came down to it, would you rather the Bengals take Foster or Fournette in Round 1? Let us know why in the comments.