The NFL draft is less than one week away. I know it is hard to believe.
We’re one week away from knowing what the Bengals will sort of, kind of look like in 2018. One of the most respected Cincinnati media members as far as the draft goes is the Bengals Radio Network Color Analyst Dave Lapham. Lapham has pretty much nailed the Bengals’ first round picks in recent years. His most recent miss was Will Fuller who the Texans traded up to take right in front of the Bengals. He has correctly guessed picks such as Tyler Eifert, Darqueze Dennard, Kevin Zeitler and even John Ross last year.
Lapham will be making his official prediction next week, but Lance McAlister had him on his radio show before that to talk about the draft. Lapham unloaded a lot of information and talked about the Bengals’ needs and who he thinks is in play.
The first topic of discussion was the top three centers in the draft and Lapham also predicted a run on interior linemen right around the Bengals’ pick.
“From pick 20 to 30, [that will be] where a bunch of interior linemen go,” Lapham told McAlister. “Do they want to be at the front of it, or do they want to roll the dice and hope that one of these centers is at 46? Which I’m not sure would be the case necessarily. I don’t know if anyone is going to draft a center before the Bengals at 21.”
That seems to be the trend that is becoming more and more clear based off who teams are bringing in for visits. Cincinnati could have their pick of the litter, or they could be left with the scraps. As far as their options at center, Lapham is uncommitted to ranking the three top guys at this point. He still likes the options though.
“I think there is three pretty good centers in everyone’s estimation. I hear different rankings. Not only here in Cincinnati but all over the league,” Lapham said. “Some of it might be based on the techniques that their line coach teach, their schematic, system and that sort of thing. Billy Price 55 consecutive career starts. That’s a record [for Ohio State]. When you play that many games in a row at a program like Ohio State that means something to me. Only played center his last year. James Daniels out of Iowa is another guy. Academic All-Big 10, he turns 20 years old in September unbelievably young. Very long [he has a] long torso, long arms, thick lower body. Is he strong enough? He’s only 20 years old, so obviously there is room to grow there.”
Lapham also mentioned Frank Ragnow, but he didn’t go into any details about him. The Bengals are huge fans of availability, and Price’s consecutive starts will likely win plenty of points with the team. Though, he’s currently unavailable as he battles back from a partially torn pec suffered at the NFL Combine.
It seems like it will be hard to go wrong with any of the top three center options and the Bengals could have their choice of thee guys who will end up being long term starters in the NFL. Although, Lapham isn’t so sure the Bengals are committed to taking a center in Round 1. Especially if a team ahead of them reaches for one.
“[If a team takes a center before the Bengals] that means somebody has slid maybe out of the top 15 that the Bengals had on their board that they may like to take a look at, or they may decide to go offensive tackle if one of these offensive tackles is still sitting there. Mike McGlinchey, which I don’t think he will be, but Kolton Miller might be another guy 6’8 1/2”, 310 pounder that’s very athletic and flashes elite talent,” Lapham said in regard to the tackles the Bengals could end up picking. “So both of those guys, everyone has a hole in there game, those guys sometime play with a high pad level and get struck in the chest and get bull rushed right back.”
It seems like the Bengals could be tempted if a highly coveted player slips to them that isn’t an offensive lineman. Someone like Derwin James for instance could supersede the team taking a player at a position of need. McGlinchey would also be a great pick. The perimeter of the offensive line would be complete, and he could possibly grow into the left tackle spot the Cordy Glenn could leave in a handful of seasons. Miller would be frustrating. He is a big guy who really struggled at UCLA when he was tested by more talented pass rushers. I don’t care about his Scouting Combine. He doesn’t have a high enough ceiling to be taken ahead of one of the centers. Speaking of Glenn though, Lapham gushed about the Bengals’ trade for him, and all the options it opened up for the team.
“I think they have options... They made the trade, and they didn’t lose any draft picks. They rearranged their draft order a little bit, and they addressed left tackle with a guy that’s not a guess. It’s not like 50/50 can he play or not? Cordy Glenn can play, and if healthy can really play... You addressed probably your biggest need without losing any draft picks,” Lapham said. “You put yourself in a position to sit there and see if somebody slides to you.”
Even though the team solidified the left tackle position, Lapham isn’t sure the Bengals will pass up a tackle at 21 for a center.
“I think the big decision might be do we go offensive tackle? Because the thing is, there is very few premiere offensive tackle edge guys,” Lapham said. “There is a lot of interior offensive linemen. I’m not sure that the offensive tackles in this draft will go much higher in the teens and into the 20’s. So there may be one there, and then at that point they’re like “okay lets take the tackle,” because that is the premiere spot along the offensive line. It is a lot easier for tackles to move inside than inside guys to move out to tackle... They have to make the call. Do I go tackle, and hope I can address the center position later. Or do I go center and say okay draft a center in the first round that means I not only can plug and play for four, but I get an option for a fifth year.”
Lapham seems to be very happy about the position the Bengals have put themselves in. He loves the trade that got them to pick No. 21 and the players who will likely be ripe for the picking to have an immediate impact on the 2018 season. That should make Bengals fans just as happy.
Stay tuned for Lapham’s much-awaited guess on the Bengals’ draft pick next week!