This time of the year is always a lot of fun as everyone tries to guess what their favorite team will do to prepare for the upcoming NFL season. Some teams have new head coaches, and other teams, like the Cincinnati Bengals, will have a lot of new faces patrolling the sidelines.
It’s too early for any kind of mock draft to make total sense at this point, but don’t tell that to us. We’re full steam ahead in mocks! So in the spirit of fun, and in the hopes of sparking a little bit of debate, we’ve prepared a seven-round Bengals mock draft. Expect there to be plenty of changes as things like the NFL Combine and free agency come and go, but this is as good a place to start as any.
Round 1 – pick 12
Quenton Nelson, guard, Notre Dame
With the 12th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals select Quenton Nelson, a guard from the University of Notre Dame. Nelson is a big, powerful offensive line prospect and has the ability to move defenders off the line of scrimmage.
Nelson is a perfect fit in a power running game, and is an accomplished pass blocker, to boot. He would provide the ideal complement to Clint Boling at right guard, or could step in to the left guard position should Boling end up as the Bengals’ starting left tackle.
Round 2 – pick 46
Billy Price, center, Ohio State
It is time to let Russell Bodine go, especially if Price is still on the board when the Bengals’ number gets called in Round 2. Even if Bodine gets extended before then, Price is still the most technically sound lineman in the draft.
Even though he only started one year for the Bengals at center, Price is one of the best prospects to come out of college in the last couple of years. Price is a former guard, is a bulldozer in the run game and is outstanding in pass protection, as well.
In hindsight, it’s unlikely Price is available in Round 2, but we can dream, right?
Round 3 – pick 77
Alex Cappa, tackle, Humboldt State
Don’t worry, people. We have not forgotten about Cincinnati’s need for an offensive tackle. And we’re filling that void now with just the medicine the doctor ordered. Cappa is a mountain of a man at 6’7” and 350 pounds and has the makings of a 10-year starter in the NFL. He is also a good athlete and is technically sound in all aspects of the game. The Bengals don’t often go for prospects who aren’t from Division I schools, but they should give it a try here.
Round 3 – compensatory pick (Kevin Zeitler)
Tegray Scales, linebacker, Indiana
Multiple injuries at linebacker, and the failure of a couple to perform up to expectations, makes linebacker a position of need for the Bengals. Scales is just the kind of plug-and-play defender Cincinnati needs. He totaled 125 tackles for the Hoosiers as a junior with 24 tackles for a loss, seven sacks, two passes batted, one interception — which he returned for a touchdown — and one forced fumble.
In 2017, Scales finished with 89 total tackles, including 12.5 for loss, six sacks, two interceptions and a pair of fumble recoveries. He has been favorably compared to Clemson’s Kendall Joseph or Ohio State’s Jerome Baker.
Round 4 – pick 108
Hayden Hurst, tight end, South Carolina
Whether the Bengals are able to re-sign Tyler Eifert will have a lot to do with whether Cincinnati chooses to select another tight end this high. Tyler Kroft did a solid job filling in for Eifert, but the Bengals don’t have much beyond him, despite some writers saying otherwise.
At 6’4” and 250 pounds, Hurst is a good athlete who actually spent time as a minor league baseball player. He is a team leader, a good pass catcher and a willing blocker. He has no fear of going over the middle and would be impossible for linebackers to cover. His size and toughness would make him a handful for safeties and corners, as well.
Round 5 – pick 142
Quin Blanding, safety, Virginia
Blanding is UVA’s all-time leader in tackles with 495, which puts him at No. 6 in ACC history. It also gives him the ACC career record for tackles by a defensive back. Blanding made 49 career starts and finished at No. 2 in the ACC in tackles in every season of his career. He also had four interceptions last year, which is something the Bengals desperately need to work on this offseason.
Round 5 – compensatory pick (Andrew Whitworth)
Jeff Holland, Auburn, defensive end
Carl Lawson turned out to be the steal of the 2017 NFL Draft for the Bengals, and now Cincinnati may have a shot at his Auburn replacement. Holland was All-SEC last year and recorded 10 sacks, making him the first Auburn player to post double digit sacks since Dee Ford in 2013. Holland recorded 45 tackles, including 13.5 for loss, and forced four fumbles. With Michael Johnson aging, this could be a good pick late in the draft, especially with a compensatory pick.
Round 6 – pick 173
Mike White, quarterback, Western Kentucky
White is everything you want your quarterback to be. He stands 6’4”, weighs in at 225 pounds, and has a strong arm and good accuracy to go with it. White completed over 57% of his passes that travelled over 20 yards last year. If AJ McCarron ends up leaving, as expected, the Bengals will need another quarterback to compete for the backup spot, especially with Jeff Driskel dealing with a broken non-throwing arm.
Round 7 – pick 223
Breeland Speaks, defensive line, Ole Miss
If Speaks does fall this far, Cincinnati needs to jump on this pick as quickly as possible. Speaks, who declared for the draft after his junior season, has good first-step quickness and has the ability to shoot gaps as a pass-rusher. At 6’3” and 285 pounds, he would be an excellent complement to Geno Atkins.
Round 7 – compensatory pick (Margus Hunt)
Jaleel Scott, wide receiver, New Mexico State
It is unlikely that Scott falls this far, but it would be a real steal if he does. Scott is a 6-foot-6, 215-pound athletic receiver with outstanding jump-ball skills that make him an intriguing prospect. Scott caught 73 passes for 1,042 yards and eight touchdowns last year.
Round 7 – compensatory pick (Karlos Dansby)
John Kelly, running back, Tennessee
The only reason that Kelly may be available at this point is his size. At 5’9” and 205 pounds, Kelly is the proverbial bowling ball. But he also has good vision, finds holes in a hurry and is a good receiver out of the backfield. He is a willing blocker and would be good insurance at the position in case of injury.