Have you ever sat around with your crew, probably with some adult beverages, and played a game based around hypotheticals? If so, you’re probably familiar with the what-if game commonly known as “would you rather?” In this game, people give you scenarios in which you would have to pick the best option. Sometimes the game can get raunchy, but we won’t go there.
Instead, we decided it would be fun to play this type of game with the Bengals and their No. 9 pick as the 2017 NFL Draft approaches. There are a number of prospects in play on both sides of the ball, and as it usually goes with the Bengals and their preference to stand pat, they’ll likely watch how the first eight picks play out before they’re on the clock. Of course, there are chances they maneuver around, but seeing as how they rarely move up for a player, and the now-rare occasion they have a top-10 pick, we tend to think they’re staying put.
We’re going to give you a few of scenarios of players who could be in play and want to hear your preferences between those handful of prospects.
1) Derek Barnett, Reuben Foster or Haason Reddick:
Say players like Jonathan Allen, Solomon Thomas, Leonard Fournette and Myles Garrett are all off of the board, which is entirely possible when the Bengals are on the clock. If the Bengals are focusing in on defense at No. 9, which many suspect, these three players could very well be the narrowed-down options on defense.
Foster remains the most talented true linebacker in the class, but many well-documented issues have surfaced recently that will hinder his draft stock. Reddick has flown up draft boards of late, but a 2015 arrest and a question of value in the top-10 linger.
In the case of Barnett, he might make the most sense at the spot, in terms of positional need and scheme-fit, while also being a frequent mock to the team by the pundits. But, if one values linemen like Garrett, Thomas and Allen above Barnett, is the third or fourth-best pass-rusher truly solid value at No. 9 overall?
So, if the team whittled it down to three at the spot, would you rather...
The Bengals take Foster over Barnett?
The Bengals take Barnett over Foster?
The Bengals take Reddick over Foster?
Or, the Bengals take Reddick over Barnett?
2) The Troubled Running Back Scenario:
Say the Bengals shy away from running back in the first round, which is likely, and have an interesting option at No. 41 in the second round. Two of the most talented running backs in this year’s class have some major character concerns, in Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon and Florida State’s Dalvin Cook.
Mixon’s issues have been made painfully public, while overshadowing Cook’s own off-field run-ins. Additionally, Cook has some injury concerns with some below-average workout numbers, but many still feel he’s a first round talent.
If the Bengals go elsewhere at No. 9, would you rather...
Cincinnati take Cook or Mixon, if available at No. 41?
3) The First Round Versatile Defensive Linemen:
Based on their size and skill sets, many believe that Solomon Thomas and Jonathan Allen are players who could play inside or outside at the NFL level. Allen has more of a defensive tackle build, but at 285 pounds (compared to Solomon’s 273), he does hover around the poundage of current Bengals ends, Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap.
Allen has more injury concerns, but if looked at as more of a tackle than end, he’s the top player at that position. Thomas was a somewhat-late-riser on boards, thanks to a strong bowl game and some solid workouts, but is the second or third-rated pass-rusher in this year’s class.
If, somehow, both Allen and Thomas fall into the Bengals’ lap at No. 9, would you rather...
Cincinnati takes Thomas over Allen?
Or, would you prefer Allen over Thomas?
4) The Pass-Catcher Scenario:
Some believe the Bengals need to go heavier on offense in this year’s draft—particularly at the skill positions. Even though the team re-signed Brandon LaFell and spent a 2016 second round pick on Tyler Boyd, many believe that another long-term wide receiver option is needed.
Whether it’s the speedy John Ross of Washington, the enigmatic Corey Davis of Western Michigan, or a slight-poor man’s A.J. Green in Clemson’s Mike Williams, outside weapons will be available early in the first round. Additionally, Alabama’s athletic tight end, O.J. Howard, has recently entered the discussion as a possible first round selection for the Bengals.
There are plusses and minuses to all of these names. Ross has the needed speed for this offense, but size and injury concerns linger. Davis has the size, but knocks on his playing against inferior competition and a lack of tangible pre-draft numbers bring cause for concern.
Williams, once thought of as the consensus top receiver in the draft, has fallen a little bit and some wonder about his fit opposite of Green because of similar play styles. But, teams who have utilized two big receivers in the past have had offensive success recently. Look at Tampa Bay’s utilization of Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, Chicago’s duo of Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall, or the Chargers’ successful employment of Jackson and Malcom Floyd in recent seasons and you can see how two big, physical receivers can pay off.
Then there’s the tight end spot. Tyler Eifert has battled significant injury issues throughout his star-crossed career and is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Cincinnati has begun to value the position more in recent seasons, so using both he and Howard in the passing game, at least for 2017, could bring a nice renaissance to the offense—particularly in the red zone. But, would Howard be nothing more than a luxury pick in a year where the Bengals have more needs than usual?
A possible trade back for one of these picks notwithstanding, would you rather...
The Bengals take Howard over any of the three above-mentioned receivers?
Take Ross over Howard, Williams and Davis?
Take Davis over Howard, Williams and Ross?
Or, take Williams over Howard, Ross and Davis?
Leave your “would you rather” preferences in the comments below!