With their second of three fourth round picks in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals went for another play-making receiver in University of Tennessee’s Josh Malone. It’s been a very interesting class for Cincinnati thus far, with three offensive weapons and two talented edge rushers.
Malone was a productive player for the Volunteers, playing great all season long and helping his team earn a victory over Nebraska in The Music City Bowl. He finished the 2016 season with 50 catches for 972 yards and 11 touchdowns.
What Malone Brings to the Bengals:
Height/Weight/Speed: At 6’3” and 208 pounds, Malone brings a big target who ended up bringing in better workout numbers than some expected. At the NFL Combine, Malone ran a 4.40-second 40-yard dash to go with his impressive size.
Per Mock Draftable, three of Malone’s closest physical comparisons are Andre Caldwell, Cody Core and Armon Binns. He fits the Bengals’ physical profile at the wide receiver position.
Draft Value: Most pundits had Malone pegged as a top-100 player in this year’s class. For Cincinnati to get him at No. 128, it falls into both the “need” and “best player available” categories.
Big Play Ability: The Bengals are making a statement, both internally to their current players and to the rest of the NFL: they’re getting younger, faster and more explosive. Those were traits that were lacking towards the end of the year from Cincinnati’s offense, and the team has done what it can to remedy issues with the additions of John Ross at No. 9 overall and Malone in the fourth round.
When you look at his averaging of almost 19.5 yards per catch last season, it becomes obvious Malone knows how to stretch the field and high-point the ball. Malone should compete for a niche role in the Bengals’ offense right away.
How Malone fits on Bengals’ Offense:
Stretching the field: We might be looking at a Chris Henry-like player and role for Malone. He can go deep, based on his college tape and out-jump defenders to make the play.
Helping out in the red zone: Cincinnati’s offense had problems in the red zone when Tyler Eifert and A.J. Green were injured. Even though Malone can stretch the field and go deep, a 6’3” receiver could help Andy Dalton out to put more points up on the board.