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NFL mock draft 2018: Mel Kiper has a new name for the Bengals

Mel Kiper is giving the Bengals a lineman who’s rarely been mentioned as a first-round prospect.

NCAA Football: Cactus Bowl-Kansas State vs UCLA Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals are very likely to take at least one lineman in the 2018 NFL Draft, possibly as high as the No. 12 pick.

By now, you know the names being projected to that spot. Pull up a mock draft, and for the Bengals, it’s almost certain to have one of Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey, Oklahoma’s Orlando Brown or Texas’ Connor Williams being the pick.

However, there may be another offensive tackle to keep tabs on. In Mel Kiper’s latest mock draft, he has UCLA tackle Kolton Miller going No. 12 to Cincinnati:

12. Cincinnati Bengals

*Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA

This is a deep group of offensive tackles, and our first one is off the board at No. 12. Miller is a pure left tackle with a 6-8 frame and great feet. He reminds me of Patriots left tackle Nate Solder (a free agent). Last offseason, the Bengals let walk longtime left tackle Andrew Whitworth, and former first-round pick Cedric Ogbuehi took his spot. Whitworth had an All-Pro season with the Rams, but Ogbuehi struggled. He might be better with a move inside to guard. Picking Miller here gives Cincinnati an upgrade, though he needs to get stronger.

At 6’8” and 310 pounds, Miller started every game this past season at left tackle for UCLA before declaring for the draft as a junior. He started at right tackle the previous two seasons.

Miller is a name who’s been nonexistent in first-round mock drafts to this point, and for good reason. Miller is a raw prospect who’s going to be a work in progress in the NFL, enough that not many draft analysts are high on him.

That includes The Athletic draft reporter Jeff Cavanaugh and CBS draft guru Dane Brugler:

Miller has potential, but not enough to think he’ll be a reliable tackle as a rookie. The Bengals need someone capable of helping this unit now, and watching Miller, I’m not confident he’ll do this.

Perhaps the Bengals will fall in love with Miller in the pre-draft prospects, but if they really want to spend a first-round pick on him, hopefully they find a way to trade back and get him. There are just too many great prospects that could be there at No. 12 to pass on for Miller.

Saying all of this, we know the Bengals routinely spend high draft picks on players that effectively get redshirted as rookies. That could be the case with a guy like Miller, especially since the team still wants to give Cedric Ogbuehi a chance to show he’s a capable left tackle.

But with uncertainty around Jake Fisher’s health, it’s possible Miller would start at right tackle as a rookie.

For what it’s worth, this mock draft has Orlando Brown going No. 16 to the Ravens, but Mike McGlinchey and Connor Williams aren’t selected in Round 1.