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NFL Mock Draft: Bengals trade up for Leonard Fournette

One draft projection has the Bengals and Jets striking a deal that allows Cincinnati to land Leonard Fournette.

NCAA Football: Auburn at Louisiana State Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

When the 2017 NFL Draft begins, expect the Bengals to grab a running back early.

LSU’s Leonard Fournette is someone the team reportedly really likes, but it continues to look more and more like he’ll be off the board by the time the Bengals are on the clock with the No. 9 pick. However, Cincinnati has 11 picks entering the draft, so in theory, the club could package some of those picks to move up a few picks and take Fournette.

That’s what Tony Pauline projected in his latest three-round mock draft. He has Cincinnati striking a deal with the Jets to move up and take Fournette with the No. 6 pick.

#6 Cincinnati Bengals (Projected Trade via New York Jets)

Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

Analysis: The Bengals want to come out of the draft with a top-rated RB. They will consider selecting Joe Mixon in the second round, but this makes more sense. The Jets prefer to trade down and collect extra choices while the Bengals get the best RB in the draft.

The deal includes Cincinnati trading their third-round pick in order to move up three spots and take Fournette. While I’m very high on Fournette and would love to see him in stripes, I think trading the No. 73 pick to move up three spots is a bit much. There will be some great running backs available in Round 2, so trading a high pick to secure Fournette is a reach.

Even so, getting Fournette would be the best way to ensure the Bengals have a major upgrade at running back next season. Fournette is far and away better than Jeremy Hill, and it’s hard to see post-ACL tear Giovani Bernard making a big impact.

That’s why overspending to secure Fournette is a move we can’t fault the Bengals for doing if they so choose. Personally, I think they can give up one of their two fourth-round picks to move up to No. 6, which would be more ideal.

The other pick Cincinnati makes in this mock comes in Round 2, where they take Ohio pass-rusher Tarell Basham with pick No. 41. Basham is Ohio’s all-time sack leader with 29 career sacks across 50 games. In 2016, he had 50 total tackles, 11.5 sacks, 16 tackles for loss, two interceptions and two pass deflections.

At 6’4” and 269 pounds, Basham is right around the mold the Bengals prefer in their defensive ends. Cincinnati must add a pass-rusher early in this draft, and it certainly looks like Basham is someone the club is consider in Round 2.

The Bengals will almost be forced to draft a pass-rusher within their first two picks, especially with only Wallace Gilberry and Will Clarke sitting behind Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson. If Dunlap were to go down with an injury, this easily becomes the worst pass-rushing unit in the NFL. That’s why getting a guy like Basham early is very ideal.

All told, this draft would see the Bengals address arguably their two biggest needs with each of their first two selections. That’s ideally how it will work out, but again, you’d like to see them keep that high Round 3 pick to address another need early on. And, it doesn’t seem like Fournette is actually a great fit for Cincinnati.


Would you want this mock draft to become reality for the Bengals?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    (256 votes)
  • 21%
    No to Fournette but yes to Basham.
    (297 votes)
  • 9%
    No to Basham but yes to Fournette.
    (130 votes)
  • 49%
    (674 votes)
1357 votes total Vote Now