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Bengals mock draft poll: Taco Charlton vs Derek Barnett?

The Bengals need pass-rushers, and both Derek Barnett and Taco Charlton should be available at pick No. 9.

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NCAA Football: Michigan at Michigan State Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

If the Cincinnati Bengals go with a defensive end in Round 1, it's very likely to be either Tennessee’s Derek Barnett or Michigan’s Taco Charlton.

Those two are thought to be the best fits for Cincinnati's 4-3 defense while also having fair value as high first-round picks. In the latest mock draft from Pro Football Focus, it's Barnett who lands with Cincinnati at No. 9:

9. Cincinnati Bengals - Derek Barnett, Edge, Tennessee

Derek Barnett is the best pass-rusher not named Myles Garrett in this draft class, and the Bengals would love to add his pass-rushing production to their defense. Barnett consistently generates pressure at a higher rate than other edge-rushers, as he generated pressure on the QB on 20.0 percent of his rushes (the NCAA average was 10.0 percent). Barnett generated 34 sacks, 43 QB hits, 110 hurries, and two batted passes on 1,126 pass-rush snaps over the last three seasons. He is a technically-sound pass-rusher, and 45 of his 78 pressures came to the outside shoulder of the offensive tackle in 2016.

But over at Fox Sports, it's Charlton who he Bengals spend a top-10 pick on:

9. Bengals: Taco Charlton - DE - Michigan

Cincinnati needs a defensive end to eventually replace Michael Johnson and more than a few offensive linemen. In Charlton, they get a relatively raw player but one built to be a strong-side force and perennial All-Pro in the Bengals’ 4-3 defense. He and Carlos Dunlap could prove to be a mighty formidable duo.

There's a lot of debate as to which pass-rusher is a better fit for the Bengals, and you could make a good case for either guy.

In 2016, Charlton played in 11 games while finishing with 40 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. He had 2.5 sacks and nine tackles against Ohio State alone. As a rotational reserve in 2015, Charlton had 30 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.

With just one year as a full-time starter under his belt, Charlton is a bit of a risky pick this high in the draft, but he certainly has the potential to be a big upgrade at this position of need for Cincinnati. Charlton fits the look the Bengals like their defensive ends to have at 6'6" and 273 pounds, so definitely look for him to be someone the team is eyeing in the coming months.

However, if we’re going off just consistent college production throughout his career, Barnett has the edge by a wide margin. This past season, Barnett notched 13 sacks while breaking Reggie White’s school career sack record (33 and previous mark was 32). He finished the year with 19 tackles for loss and one interception. As a sophomore in 2015, Barnett record 10 sacks, 12 tackles for loss and 69 total tackles. As a true freshman in 2014, he racked up nine sacks, 20.5 tackles for loss and 73 total tackles.

The knock on the 6’3”, 259-pound Barnett is he’ll need to bulk up a little for 4-3 teams like the Bengals to best utilize him, though he’s more than capable of playing on the end in the NFL. There’s plenty of teams ahead of the Bengals who could use Barnett, but his smaller frame should push him to No. 9, at least based on nearly every mock draft thus far.

The best way to sum up this debate is production versus potential. Barnett has the production, but Charlton has the better potential in a 4-3 defense in the pros. Who would you rather have?


Derek Barnett or Taco Charlton?

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