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Bengals hosting Bucknell OT Julién Davenport for pre-draft visit

The small-school left tackle could be an intriguing option for the Bengals on Day 3 of the 2017 NFL Draft.

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl-North Practice Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals are sure to draft at least one offensive tackle in the 2017 NFL Draft.

The most recent report of an offensive tackle meeting with the Bengals for a pre-draft workout for is Bucknell’s Julién Davenport. NFL Draft Diamonds reported Davenport has visited with the Bengals, Panthers, Buccaneers, 49ers, Patriots, Cowboys, Texans and Jaguars. And that the Falcons will be meeting with him before the draft, too. In total, we’re told 12 NFL teams and their offensive line coaches have met with or will privately meet with Davenport before the draft.

We spoke with Davenport earlier this offseason as he was preparing for the NFL Combine. A former Steelers fan and impressive small-school, four-year starter, Davenport is gaining attention from the NFL community as the draft nears. The Bengals were initially intrigued by Davenport at the Senior Bowl, where he wowed scouts and coaches.

Davenport is starting to build some Day 2 buzz, enough so that he may sneak into the second round. “One NFL offensive line coach said "he has the skill set of a first rounder", but acknowledged he's probably a second rounded,” a source said. “Another NFL offensive line coach said he would surprised if he gets past the second round.”

Davenport was a three-time First-Team All-Patriots League selection at Bucknell and a two-year captain. He started all 44 games during his college career, all at left tackle, and was the star of the Bisons’ offense, and team as a whole. That says a lot when you’re talking about a left tackle. But, Davenport doesn’t want to limit himself to just left tackle.

“I’m open to playing other positions,” Davenport told Cincy Jungle. “I can do anything anyone asks of me. Want me to play tight end or quarterback? I can go do it. I haven’t played anything other than left tackle but I could do whatever’s asked of me.”

The Bucknell tackle has a great attitude and is looking forward to being the first player drafted out of Bucknell since 1969 (Sam Havrilak - Baltimore Colts). He believes his impressive size is something that makes him stand out among his fellow NFL hopefuls. It also helps that coaches love his ability to bend his knees and that he's smart on the board work.

At the Combine, Davenport recorded a 5.45 second 40-yard dash, 18 reps on the bench press, a 27" vertical jump, 8'10" broad jump, 7.57 second 3-cone drill and a 4.69 second 20-yard shuttle. He also measured in at 6'7" tall, 36 1/2" arm length, 318 pounds and 10 1/2" hands. He had the largest arm span at the Combine among all offensive lineman.

“Size is something you just can’t teach,” Davenport said. “I’m blessed to have the size and athletic ability I do have. I’m always working just to improve that as well. You don’t see many guys my size who can move as well as I do. So it definitely sets me apart.”

Davenport has been studying many of the NFL’s best tackles, including former Bengals great Andrew Whitworth and Joe Thomas of the Browns. But, his favorite player to watch comes from arguably the NFL’s best offensive line.

“For the past few years, my favorite player has been (Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle) Tyron Smith,” Davenport said. “But I’ve pretty much been looking at all the tackles. I’m constantly watching the left tackle, and right tackles, too, and see what they do that I can use to make myself better and improve my game.”

Here’s a look at part of his NFL.com draft profile write up from Lance Zierlein, who compares Davenport to LaAdrian Waddle of the Patriots:

STRENGTHS

Possesses elite arm length and hand size for the position. Can unravel his arms and stick them into the chest of a frustrated edge rusher. Able to gain necessary ground to race to the edge over first two kick slides. Keeps head back and out of pass sets when he punches. Team leader and two-year captain. Good strength in hands to snatch and secure the frame of defenders. Has adequate athleticism to reach and hook the edge. Able to get out in space as pulling tackle or on screens. Has moldable physical traits to work with.

WEAKNESSES

Competition level won't have him prepared for NFL rushers. Feet are a little heavy. Struggles to redirect back inside against stunts. Plays with inconsistent base width and balance. Will allow secure blocks to slip out of the side door due to poor footwork. Leans into run blocks rather than running feet under him. Has to keep his feet alive and moving after initial contact. Hand approach and placement is spotty. Loses base on lateral work due to tall pad level and uneven weight dispersal.

Davenport didn’t play against the stiffest of competition at Bucknell and may take some time to get up to speed at the NFL level. But, he’s a high upside player who could be a great pickup for the Bengals on Day 3 of the draft. The Bengals seem to believe in Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher, so if the team wants to slowly bring along another tackle, Davenport could make sense as one of the team’s 11 picks.