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Bengals 2017 NFL Draft: Cincinnati selects Kansas State DE Jordan Willis in Round 3

The Cincinnati Bengals have finally addressed their pass rush woes with Kansas City defensive end Jordan Willis.

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Kansas State v West Virginia Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

With the 73rd overall pick in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals have selected Kansas State defensive end Jordan Willis.

Willis is known for his great eyes, quick response and ability to change direction on demand. He’s 6-foot-3, 255 pounds, which is a bit shorter than the Bengals usually like their defensive ends to be, as well a bit less heavy.

In 2016, he racked up 52 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks in 13 games. This helps address the Bengals’ substantial need for a defensive end who can provide pass rush help. This is a great value pick for the Bengals as Willis was widely considered a Round 2 selection and even was mocked in Round 1 as recently as this week.

Willis ranked second in the NCAA in 2016 with 80 total pressures, per PFF. Willis is known for his outside swim move, threat as a bull rusher and ability to collapse the pocket. Those are all things the Bengals need to improve on after a season in which the team's pass rush was severely lacking.

Here’s some information on Willis from Pro Football Focus, who seem to be big fans of the newest Bengals defensive end.

Player comparison: Emmanuel Ogbah, Cleveland Browns

The immense size and explosion that Ogbah and Willis possess were more than enough to beat up on right tackles in the Big 12. The refined skillset it takes to do the same at the NFL level though isn’t quite there at this point.

Bottom line: There was no more productive edge player in our grading system than Willis, but when forced to go up against quality competition at the Senior Bowl practices he was one of the lowest-graded. The massive leap from junior year to senior year is encouraging as he’ll need to continue that improvement to be an effective starter at the next level.

Here's a piece of his draft profile from Lance Zierlein:

Productive three-year starter who plays with desired motor from whistle to whistle. Willis is a stack-and-shed edge defender with good play strength and quality hand work at the point of attack. He will need more creativity to be an effective NFL pass rusher, but he should be able to earn a roster spot and work his way up the pecking order in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme.

Jordan Willis College Stats

Year G Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk PD FR FF
Year G Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk PD FR FF
*2013 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 0
*2014 11 11 15 26 7 4.5 1 0 0
*2015 13 28 6 34 14 8.5 3 1 3
2016 13 34 18 52 17.5 11.5 3 1 3


How do you grade the Bengals’ Round 3 selection of Jordan Willis?

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  • 72%
    (2575 votes)
  • 23%
    (821 votes)
  • 3%
    (128 votes)
  • 0%
    (19 votes)
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    (23 votes)
3566 votes total Vote Now

The Bengals’ remaining top draft needs are:

LB, WR, C, OT, OG, K

Here’s a rundown of every pick the Bengals hold in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Bengals 2017 NFL Draft Picks

Round Pick #
Round Pick #
Round 1 Pick 9
Round 2 Pick 48
Round 3 Pick 73
Round 4 Pick 116
Round 4 Pick 128**
Round 4 Pick 138*
Round 5 Pick 153
Round 5 Pick 176*
Round 6 Pick 193
Round 6 Pick 207**
Round 7 Pick 227
Round 7 Pick 251*

NFL Draft schedule:

Rounds 2-3: 7 p.m. ET, Friday, April 28: (Round 2 - 7 minutes per pick, Round 3 – 5 minutes per pick)

Rounds 4-7: 12 p.m. ET, Saturday, April 29: (Rounds 4-6 – 5 minutes per pick, Round 7 - 4 minutes per pick)

Here’s a link to the full seven-round NFL Draft order.