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Best case scenario for Bengals in Round 1

Is the Western Michigan star the best Cincinnati can hope for at No. 9?

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MAC Championship - Western Michigan v Ohio Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The mock draft season is still in full swing, and thankfully, it will be over in just two weeks when the NFL Draft kicks off.

Until then, wide receiver is becoming a popular position being projected as the Bengals’ first-round pick. Washington’s John Ross and Clemson’s Mike Williams have gotten a lot of attention this offseason, but Pro Football Focus’ latest dream-scenario projection has Western Michigan’s record-breaking receiver being the guy at No. 9:

9. Cincinnati Bengals - Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

While tackle is arguably Cincinnati’s biggest need, no current OT prospect at No. 9 makes sense. Reuben Foster, Mike Williams, and Derek Barnett would also make sense here, but I want a playmaker across from WR A.J. Green. The Bengals’ quick-passing offense demands wide receivers to create separation quickly and run after the catch, which Davis can do supremely well.

in a separate article, PFF ranked Davis as the second-best receiver in this class, trailing only Mike Williams.

Davis has been phenomenally productive over his career at Western Michigan, and will now look to translate that strong play to the NFL. In the three years we’ve graded college football, Davis has finished as a top-10 receiver in every single year. He isn’t the biggest receiver, or the fastest, but he’s one of the most impressive ones because of his fantastic route-running ability and strong hands. Davis does all the little things you want a receiver to do, whether it’s adjusting his routes based on the coverage, using his hands to subtly create separation, or knowing when a big hit is coming and positioning himself to absorb it. While his lack of size and speed may prevent him from being a No. 1 option right away in the NFL, he can instantly contribute as a second option for a team and could very well develop into a high-level No. 1 receiver.

It would seemingly be unwise for the Bengals to spend the No. 9 pick on a wide receiver with other pressing needs, not to mention one from a school like Western Michigan of all places. However, Davis isn’t just some small-school guy putting up big numbers against inferior competition. He’s easily one of, if not the best receiver prospect in this draft, which is why PFF has him as the best-case pick for the Bengals.

They believe he’s a more complete receiver that’s suited for a guy like Andy Dalton, who does the bulk of his damage in the short-to-intermediate passing game.

As a true freshman at Western Michigan in 2013, Davis set school freshman records with 67 grabs for 941 yards to go with six touchdowns. As a sophomore in 2014, he had 78 catches for 1,408 yards and 15 scores.

During his junior year in 2015, Davis had 90 grabs for 1,436 yards and 12 scores. This past season, Davis racked up 97 catches for 1,500 yards (15.9 avg.) and 19 more scores. Against Toledo on Nov. 25, Davis became the all-time FBS leader in receiving yards, breaking the record held by Nevada's Trevor Insley.

Simply put, Davis was a stud against whoever he went up against, and it will be no surprise seeing him hear his name called early in this year’s draft. No. 9 might be a little high, but if the Bengals want another game-breaking receiver, Davis may very well be the guy to take there.

That said, the Bengals badly need to upgrade their defensive end and linebacker depth, not to mention find a new running back. I think LSU’s Leonard Fournette is a better pick here than Davis if both are available.

I also think there’s a chance, albeit a small one, that Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen slides to No. 9, in which case the Bengals should spring to the podium for him over Davis. You could also make a good argument for Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster being a better pick, too. He may not play much as a rookie, but with Vontaze Burfict, Marquis Flowers, Kevin Minter and P.J. Dawson being free agents next year, Foster could quickly assume a major role in this defense.


Is Corey Davis your ideal pick for the Bengals with the No. 9 overall selection?

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  • 15%
    (191 votes)
  • 38%
    (481 votes)
  • 46%
    Depends who else is available.
    (579 votes)
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