The Bengals made it down to Miami for the Hurricanes’ pro day on Wednesday, where David Njoku was the top prospect working out.
A common theme among the Bengals’ pro day trips is that they’ve consistently been where big-time tight end prospects are working out. Whether it was Virginia Tech (Bucky Hodges), Clemson (Jordan Leggett) or even Utah State (for Drake’s Eric Saubert), the Bengals are keeping tabs on most, if not all of the top tight ends in this draft.
That’s why it makes sense that they also saw Njoku — who most experts have ranked behind Alabama’s O.J. Howard as the top tight ends in this draft — even if he’s someone projected to be drafted as high as Round 1.
Njoku burst onto the national scene in 2016 with 43 grabs for 698 yards (16.2 avg.) and eight touchdowns. His blocking needs work, but he’s a great pass-catcher who should hear his name called early in the draft. There’s an outside chance he falls into the early parts of Round 2, and it would be a great pick if Cincinnati grabs him with the 41st-overall pick there.
While Njoku will take a high pick to acquire, the Hurricanes’ other NFL prospects should be much easier to draft. Among them is quarterback Brad Kaaya, who is projected by CBS Sports as a round 3-4 prospect. Bengals quarterback coach Bill Lazor already met privately with Kaaya earlier this month.
Depending on what the Bengals do with AJ McCarron, Kaaya could be a nice developmental guy to draft if Cincinnati is able to trade McCarron. It’s looking more like that won’t happen though, which would probably take Kaaya off their board.
Perhaps the best Miami prospect for the Bengals is offensive guard Danny Isidora, who CBS projects as a Round 3 pick. Isidora is a three-year starter at right guard, where the Bengals need more depth after Kevin Zeitler left this offseason. Andre Smith was signed with the hope he can start there, but the Bengals would be wise to have a true right guard challenging for that spot, in addition to Christian Westerman, not to mention, there’s the potential for Smith to remain at right tackle pending Jake Fisher’s development.
If the Bengals want more help at wide receiver, Stacy Coley is a guy projected to be an early Day 3 selection. The 6’0”, 195-pound speedster led Miami in catches with 63 for 754 yards and nine scores in 2016. Coley was a part-time starter in each of his first two seasons while also being an explosive kickoff and punt returner.
A guy to watch for on defense is defensive back Corn Elder. Originally a high school star running back, Elder moved to corner in college and became an all-conference selection in 2016. He racked up 76 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, three sacks and one interception.
The 5’10”, 183-pound Elder is viewed as a slot corner in the NFL, a position at which the Bengals could potentially use more competition. He’s projected to be a Day 3 pick. The Bengals are pretty deep at corner, but they typically draft at least one defensive back in every draft.
One other defensive back to watch for is safety Rayshawn Jenkins. The 6’1”, 214-pound Jenkins was a full-time starter for the past three seasons. During that time, Jenkins recorded 174 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, eight interceptions and 15 pass deflections across 38 games. He too is projected as a Day 3 pick. Depending on how the Bengals feel about backups Clayton Fejedelem and Derron Smith, Jenkins could be a guy Cincinnati drafts for more competition at this position.