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NFL mock draft 2018: Todd McShay gives Bengals a monster defensive tackle

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The Bengals’ best approach in Round 1 may be to upgrade the defensive line.

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals have never quite found a good running mate for Geno Atkins in the interior of the defensive line.

While Domata Peko occupied that spot for a decade, he was never able to come close to complimenting what Atkins brings to the table, not to mention Peko and every other nose tackle during that stretch has been a liability more often than not.

Is this the year the Bengals make it a point to find another great defensive tackle to pair with Atkins?

Todd McShay just released his latest mock draft, which has the Bengals getting that upgrade at defensive tackle:

12. Cincinnati Bengals

Vita Vea, DT, Washington*

Cincinnati had a disappointing 7-9 season, and the offensive line’s poor play and inability to run the ball were big reasons why. With the 12th pick, there isn’t an offensive tackle in this class worthy of selection here. The Bengals need difference-makers along the defensive front seven, and Vea fits the bill. He didn’t get a chance to fully show off his athleticism at the combine after an injury, but he’s extremely agile for a 6-foot-4, 347-pound player. He’s a load to move in the running game and disruptive as a power rusher. This would be back-to-back years of using first-round picks on Washington players for the Bengals (WR John Ross, 2017).

As McShay notes, it would be the second straight year in which the Bengals spent a first-round pick on a Washington Huskies star. Ideally, however, Vita Vea would make a major impact as a rookie along the defensive line and not spend a year on the bench.

In 2017, Vea finished with 43 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. He was a disruptive force on the defensive line and was voted the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year by the league’s coaches.

Standing at 6’4” and 347 pounds, Vea is a mammoth of a man that manages to carry his weight very well while dominating his gap. He would also help keep opposing offensive lines from being able to double-team Atkins.

If the Bengals opt to go with someone other than Vea, some prospects still on the board in this mock include UTSA defensive end Marcus Davenport (14th to Packers), Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans (17th to Chargers) and Texas offensive tackle Connor Williams (20th to Lions).

Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey and Oklahoma tackle Orlando Brown are not first-round picks in this projection.

Some other popular Bengals mock draft picks include Derwin James going seventh to the Buccaneers, Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds going ninth to the 49ers, and Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith going 10th to the Raiders.

In this mock draft, would you be happy with the Bengals taking Vita Vea?