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Bengals 9 for 9 NFL Draft Series: Haason Reddick

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NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

One of the NFL Draft’s biggest risers this offseason has been Haason Reddick.

Thanks to big showings at the Scouting Combine and Senior Bowl, the former Temple Owls star is now in the discussion for a top-10 selection, possibly as high as No. 9 to the Bengals.

Reddick was a stud defensive end in college, racking up 9.5 sacks, 22.5 tackles for loss, 65 total tackles, three forced fumbles and an interception this past season. In 2015, Reddick registered five sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss and 46 total tackles. He spent most of his time at defensive end, but he’s expected to move to linebacker in the NFL.

Here is why the Bengals should take Reddick at No. 9:

  • Reddick is an athletic freak who can play linebacker or rush off the edge on passing downs, and the Bengals must get more pass-rushers in this draft.
  • He tested off the charts at the Scouting Combine, showing has the measurables and athleticism to play any of the three linebacker spots, and the Bengals need more depth at all three spots.
  • Ideally, Reddick can be a SAM backer and allow Nick Vigil to play the other two spots, giving depth there if Vontaze Burfict and/or Kevin Minter leave next year when their contracts expire.
  • And while Vigil showed flashes of being a good linebacker last year, it wasn’t enough that the Bengals should pass on a guy like Reddick if they’re convinced he’ll be an upgrade.
  • Reddick was a star at the Senior Bowl while going against some of the top NFL prospects in this year’s draft.
  • This would allow the Bengals to add a pass-rusher without having to reach for a defensive end, which is looks like it won’t be worth doing at No. 9.
  • Reddick is ranked No. 11 overall by ESPN and NFL.com, so he’s fair value at No. 9. In comparison, Derek Barnett is ranked No. 13 by ESPN and No. 22 by NFL.com, and he’s the guy getting most of the hype for No. 9.

Here is why the Bengals should pass on Reddick at No. 9:

  • Reddick is more of a project with a lot of untapped potential entering the NFL. He could need his entire rookie contract just to find where he best fits in the NFL.
  • The Bengals don’t have a great track record with projects nor tweeners,
  • He put up big numbers in the AAC, so he’s making a massive jump in competition entering the NFL. Six of his 9.5 sacks this past season came again SMU, UCF and Memphis. “Those offensive linemen in the American Athletic Conference that Reddick went against are not worth a (expletive),” an NFL personnel man told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  • Reddick spent most of his college career at defensive end, which he’s not going to be at 6’1” and 237 pounds, so he’s got a big learning curve ahead of him becoming a full-time linebacker.
  • Most experts think his best fit is as a 3-4 linebacker, not a 4-3 backer like he’d be in Cincinnati.
  • Pro Football Focus ranks him No. 20 overall, while none of the major draft services have him rated as a top-10 pick, so there should be better players available at No. 9.
  • Assuming Reddick is a 4-3 outside linebacker, the Bengals ideally don’t need him since they have high hopes on Vigil and will make every effort to re-sign Burfict.

All told, Reddick is one of the higher-upside prospects in this draft, but it’s hard to see him making a big impact anytime soon in the Bengals’ defense, if they take him. And given the Bengals’ history with tweeners like Reddick (Sean Porter, Dontay Moch, James Harrison for one season), I don’t have much faith in this staff properly using Reddick, even though he has enough talent to warrant a top-10 pick.