Now that the Bengals have lost Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler, taking an offensive lineman in Round 1 seems plausible.
The problem is, at least based on the draft rankings from the so-called experts, there won’t be an offensive lineman worth taking with the No. 9 pick in April’s NFL Draft. This is simply a terrible class for offensive tackles, but the Bengals are certainly in the market for one after Whitworth left this offseason.
The latest mock draft from Eric Galko of Sporting News has Cincinnati taking Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson with the No. 9 pick.
9. Cincinnati Bengals - Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
The Bengals lost their two best offensive linemen, and it’s unclear whether they trust in Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher as their bookend tackles. Robinson could play guard to start before replacing one of the two in 2018.
Robinson was a consensus All-American left tackle in his junior year due to his role in Alabama's offense on their way to an undefeated season and appearance in the College Football Playoff title game.
However, Robinson is a flawed prospect who carries some major character concerns as a result of him being arrested with marijuana and a stolen handgun in his vehicle last year.
There’s not even a consensus feeling among experts that Robinson is an NFL tackle. Some think he’s a guard, though he’ll get a shot at left and possibly right tackle with whatever NFL team drafts him. It is a positive that he has the measurables to potentially play guard if tackle doesn’t work out, which could make him more attractive if teams need help at guard, like the Bengals.
But Robinson is nowhere near worth the No. 9 pick. He’s a mid-first rounder at best, who could easily fall into the 20s. That’s why the Bengals should have a contingency plan to trade up in that range to take Robinson if they really want him. With 11 draft picks, the Bengals certainly have the ammunition to move up from pick No. 41 in the second round and move back in the latter part of Round 1 if Robinson is still there.
That’s about the only scenario in which I see the Bengals taking him. Selecting him at No. 9 would be too big of a reach.
Elsewhere, the latest mock draft from SB Nation has Cincinnati taking Washington wide receiver John Ross.
9. Cincinnati Bengals: John Ross, WR, Washington
This is a repeat pick from last week’s mock draft that just makes more sense the more you think about it.
It’s not happening, especially after the Bengals just re-signed Brandon LaFell last week. That doesn’t completely end the receiver debate at No. 9, but Ross isn’t going to be the guy. Corey Davis is a better player, and Mike Williams is arguably better than Ross, but none of these guys is likely to be the best player available here, nor will they fill a need.
I think it’s more likely Robinson is taken here over any receiver here. The Bengals would at least be filling a big need with a guy who won’t be there later in the draft, though I don’t like either of these mock projections for Cincinnati. There’s going to be better players on the board at No. 9, and hopefully the Bengals take the best player available when the team is on the clock.