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NFL Draft 2017: How Bengals targets fare in new Mel Kiper big board

Taco Charlton has been hyped up as a candidate for the Bengals at No. 9, but Mel Kiper is pumping the brakes on him.

NCAA Football: Orange Bowl-Michigan vs Florida State Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

With the NFL Draft now just three weeks away, ESPN’s Mel Kiper has updated his big board.

One of the biggest movers in Kiper’s rankings is Michigan pass-rusher Taco Charlton, though it’s in the wrong direction. Charlton has been mentioned as someone the Bengals could take with the No. 9 pick, and most view him as a top 10-15 prospect.

Not so with Kiper.

23. Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan

Previous rank: 8

Charlton's measurements -- 6-6, 277 with 34¼ arms -- really stood out at the combine, but his 4.92 40 has him dropping a little bit. Charlton plays with good leverage for his height, has active hands and takes ideal angles when rushing the passer. Charlton can play on his feet, which means he could fit in a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme. He was the best defensive player on the field in Michigan's loss to Ohio State in late November, with 2½ sacks and nine total tackles, showing off a full arsenal of pass-rushing moves. He finished the season with 9.5 sacks despite missing two games with an ankle injury.

The Bengals are in desperate need of a pass-rusher in this draft, ideally at defensive end where Michael Johnson (30 years old) and Wallace Gilberry (32) playing like they’re on their last legs. With Stanford’s Solomon Thomas (Kiper ranks No. 3 overall) and Alabama’s Jonathan Allen (No. 2) likely off the board, Charlton may be the best pass-rusher on the board at No. 9.

However, Charlton doesn’t seem to be someone Kiper thinks Cincinnati should take that high.

Kiper is also souring on Tennessee’s Derek Barnett, someone who’s gotten more buzz lately as candidate for the No. 9 pick.

22. Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

Previous rank: 21

Barnett was stellar after a slow start to the 2016 season, with 13 sacks. That put him at 33 in his three years at Tennessee. Barnett (6-3, 259) is an all-around defender who beats double-teams, makes plays in the running game and gets after quarterbacks. He's a physical player who could play defensive end in a 4-3 or outside linebacker in a 3-4.

Barnett has far more production over his college career than Charlton, but the former’s measurables (6’3”, 259 pounds) are very small for a 4-3 defensive end. Charlton has the measurables (6”6, 277 pounds), but he’s a one-year wonder who’s best year wasn’t as good as any of Barnett’s single seasons.

If the Bengals opt to address a different position, Alabama’s Reuben Foster has frequently been mocked to the Bengals, and Kiper has the Crimson Tide star ranked as a top-five prospect.

4. Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama

Previous rank: 5

I'm not dropping Foster because of his bizarre ejection from the combine. He is a big-time inside linebacker who might have been Alabama's best linebacker in 2015. Yes, better than Reggie Ragland, who went in the second round to the Bills in the 2016 draft. Foster (6-0, 229) has more range, runs sideline to sideline and is a more complete player. I expect him to follow in the footsteps of inside linebackers from Alabama who have gone in the first round, such as Rolando McClain, Dont'a Hightower and C.J. Mosley.

Despite injury and character concerns, Foster is still widely viewed as a top-10 player in this draft and someone who Cincinnati should strongly consider, even though linebacker isn’t as big of a need now that Kevin Minter is here.

If the Bengals want more offensive firepower, LSU’s Leonard Fournette is still barely inside the top 10 of Kiper’s new rankings.

10. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

Previous rank: 7

A 4.51 40 is a great time for a 240-pound back, but Fournette's 28½-inch vertical turned some heads, and not in a good way. I still see plenty of explosion when I watch his games. He struggled with a gimpy ankle in 2016 and played in only seven games. Fournette has an incredible combination of speed and power that can make him look like a varsity player hanging with the JV. Mileage was a concern heading into last season, but that's not an issue now. He had a whopping 300 carries in 2015 -- for 1,953 yards and 22 touchdowns -- and only 129 in 2016.

We’ve talked plenty about Fournette since the Bengals are strongly interested in him, but even though Kiper ranks him No. 10 overall, it’s becoming harder and harder to see the electric back lasting until the No. 9 pick. If he is there, expect Fournette to be the pick.

If the Bengals want another wide receiver, Clemson’s Mike Williams is now Kiper’s top-ranked receiver.

9. Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

Previous rank: 16

Williams' 4.5 40 at the Clemson pro day was enough to move him back to the top of my receiver rankings. Williams (6-4, 218) is a special player who made some fantastic catches in the national title game, finishing with eight receptions for 94 yards and a touchdown. He put behind the scary neck injury that prematurely ended his 2015 season, and he was Deshaun Watson's go-to target in 2016. He finished with 98 catches for 1,361 yards and 11 touchdowns.

There’s been some debate whether the Bengals should take a receiver this high, but it’d be hard to fault them for taking Williams. He’s the perfect jump-ball receiver and red-zone threat the Bengals need to pair with A.J. Green.

That said, the Bengals can find their next Marvin Jones in the latter rounds of this draft with someone like Josh Reynolds, so taking Williams this high is unnecessary.

Here is Kiper’s entire big board:

1. Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

2. Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama

3. Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford

4. Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama

5. Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

6. O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

7. Jamal Adams, S, LSU

8. Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

9. Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

10. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

11. Haason Reddick, OLB, Temple

12. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

13. Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA

14. David Njoku, TE, Miami (Fla.)

15. Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

16. Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

17. Charles Harris, DE, Missouri

18. Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State

19. Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin

20. *Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

21. Tyus Bowser, OLB, Houston

22. Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

23. Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan

24. Forrest Lamp, G, Western Kentucky

25. Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida