Howard to the Bengals makes a lot of sense considering Tyler Eifert is in the final year of his rookie deal and has proven incapable of staying healthy. Even if the Bengals opt to re-sign Eifert this offseason, having two highly capable tight ends could add a new dimension to the Bengals’ offense. There has often been talk of the Bengals utilizing two tight end sets, and selecting Howard would essentially force that to happen.
Howard is seen as a player worthy of a top 10 selection in the draft, and if the Bengals stick with a best player available strategy in Round 1, Howard could be the name called at pick No. 9 for Cincinnati. Here’s what Hobson had to say about Howard:
9. BENGALS: TE O.J. Howard, Alabama
Here’s the argument for Howard: he’s the player on the board that has the fewest questions, he’s the most complete player available, and he plays a position where starter Tyler Eifert has missed 42 percent of his games, is coming off back surgery, and is heading into his contract year.
Alabama linebacker Reuben Forest continues to wave red flags, they just extended their starting safeties last season, they’ve already got four first-round cornerbacks, and Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett ran a glacial 40-yard dash and is ranked anywhere from ninth to 13th.
Here’s the argument against Howard and for trading back: they’ve already got a Pro Bowl tight end in Eifert, they want to re-sign him, they really like how Tyler Kroft and C.J. Uzomah have developed behind him, and you’ve made a strength stronger and not improved the question marks.
Another argument for Howard to break the tie? When in doubt, put another weapon around A.J. Green and Andy Dalton.
The key guy here seems to be Barnett and where the Bengals have him ranked given that their No. 1 need is pass rusher.
From picks 1-8 in this mock draft, Myles Garrett, Solomon Thomas, Mitch Trubisky, Leonard Fournette, Jonathan Allen, Jamal Adams, Malik Hooker and Christian McCaffrey were taken off the board, in that order. Hobson chose to bypass Marshon Lattimore (can you imagine another Round 1 cornerback for the Bengals?!) and Derek Barnett who went to the Bills and Saints respectively with picks 10 and 11.
Hobson also made a Round 2 selection for Cincinnati and it comes in the form of a defensive end who hasn’t received too much pre-draft hype. As Hobson explains, this pick seems like a reach, but, he justifies it (or at least attempts to). Still, I don’t see the justification for a Villanova product at a position where there will be be better options available. If the Bengals really want Tanoh Kpassagnon, the player Hobson selects as the team’s second round pick, the Bengals can likely get him in Round 3. Here’s more on the choice:
41. BENGALS: DE Tanoh Kpassagnon, Villanova
They have to go pass rusher here, right, if they don’t go there at No. 9?
It would be a shocker, but let’s take a deep breath. Is it really too high for one of the most raw talents in the draft? ESPN’s Big Board ranks him the 99th player. Rang’s board at CBS rates him the 100th. But he’s worth a second look here.
A 6-7, 289 pounder who had them gasping at his Senior Bowl weigh-in, Kpassagnon has been called a freak with “track star acceleration,” according to CBS Sports. His athleticism and length conjure up memories of Carlos Dunlap in the second round in 2010 and isn’t that what this draft is all about? Give Dunlap and tackle Geno Atkins help rushing the passer?
At the NFL scouting combine a 4.83 40 combined with 23 reps of 225 pounds put him on the map. A fellow Philly product, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, said in Indy that Kpassagnon is a developmental defensive end who is a better fit in the third or fourth rounds but could go as high as the second because of his enormous potential.
He’s certainly not as polished as Dunlap, who had been tested at top competition at Florida. He’s perceived as a project when it comes to diagnosing screens and attacking double teams. And the one thing that would be non-Bengal of the pick is that Kpassagnon did his work in the low level Colonial Athletic Association while the Bengals love that big-school production.
But they also love the guys that dominate the small divisions and Kpassagnon did just that with 11 sacks, 21.5 tackles for loss, and a Dunlapian two forced fumbles and a blocked kick. It is also Bengalian that he was voted a team captain, has a bottomless motor, and is highly regarded off the field. According to The Philadelphia Daily News’ Paul Domowitch, he already has graduated with degrees in accounting and finance. His mother is a chemical scientist and his father is an economist.
There are other rush ends rated higher on the big boards (T.J. Watt, Jordan Willis, Tim Williams), but there may be no player in the draft that has Kpassagnon’s ceiling.
What do you think of Hobson’s final mock draft for the Bengals? Would you be happy about the combination of Howard and Kpassagnon in Rounds 1 and 2?