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Mock drafts reaching hard for Bengals picks

The Bengals have the No. 9 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, but there’s no clear consensus on a must-have player for the selection.

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NCAA Football: C-USA Championship-Louisiana Tech at Western Kentucky Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

With the NFL Draft less than three weeks away, mock drafts are coming out with increasing frequency and have a large variety of picks for the Bengals.

At the four most recent mocks from Bucky Brooks, Daniel Jeremiah, Chad Reuter and Charley Casserly have linebacker Reuben Foster, defensive end Jonathan Allen, tight end O.J. Howard and defensive end Derek Barnett, respectively. As you can already see, there's no consensus on who or how the Bengals should spend the No. 9 pick. At CBS Sports, defensive end Taco Charlton, Barnett, Foster and wide receiver Corey Davis are named to the Bengals among the eight different mock drafts the site is hosting. That’s already six names in the mix and four different positions.

It seems that after the top five or six players in the draft, there’s a lot of guys who would typically be considered top 20 talent in most draft classes, and aren’t necessarily top 10 picks, though, they could become top 10 picks in 2017. With the Bengals holding the No. 9 pick, many of the names linked to the team could be considered reaches. And because of that, even bigger reaches are being considered in mock drafts around the web.

Over at Pro Football Focus, Josh Liskiewitz mocked Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey to the Bengals with the No. 9 pick. This seems somewhat ridiculous as McCaffrey has largely been considered a bottom of round 1 pick. But, he is gaining steam and moving up big boards.

9. Cincinnati Bengals

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

This is certainly not one of the more talented Bengals rosters in recent memory, as there are significant holes on both sides of the ball. McCaffrey is the most dangerous and versatile offensive weapon in this draft class, and would be an immediate performer in Cincinnati not just running the ball, but catching it out of the backfield and the slot, as well as on returns. Adding a talent with elite elusiveness as both a runner and receiver (McCaffrey forced 150 total missed tackles in 2015 and 2016) would give the Bengals their best change to remain competitive in the AFC North.

The Bengals need a running back, but McCaffrey doesn’t make sense as a top 10 pick. Similarly, the Bengals also need offensive line help. That’s why in their latest mock draft, The Ringer has the Bengals reaching, too, to grab Western Kentucky offensive lineman Forrest Lamp in Round 1.

9. Cincinnati Bengals: OL Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky

Cincinnati finished tied for 25th in the NFL with 41 sacks surrendered last year and then lost its two best offensive linemen when LT Andrew Whitworth (Rams) and RG Kevin Zeitler (Browns) left in free agency. The Bengals need help on the offensive line, and Lamp is an athletic and versatile prospect with the potential to start from Day 1 at left guard or either tackle spot.

This would be a significant reach as Lamp is also projected as a bottom or Round 1 talent. The Bengals need help along the offensive line, but reaching isn’t the way to get that help. There will be talented lineman available on Day 2 and early on Day 3 who the Bengals can add to the roster to shore up the depth.

In CBS Sports' latest big board, McCaffrey is listed as the 17th best prospect, while Lamp ranks 29th. The Bengals need to make sure whoever they select with the No. 9 overall pick is worthy of the selection and ready to make an instant impact. If both of those things are not going to happen, maybe trading back in Round 1 — and grabbing the same prospect the club would have taken at No. 9, just with a later pick — will be worth it.

What do you think?