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Bengals address their biggest need in latest SB Nation mock draft

There is an obvious position where the Bengals, and the rest of the NFL, know they need to address via the draft. SB Nation was kind enough to give the Bengals one of the top players at that position.

NCAA Football: North Texas at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals have a few glaring needs going into the draft this year.

They need to add some speed to the linebacker position. They need a run stuffer to pair next to Geno Atkins. They could also use an upgrade at right guard, but most of all they need a center.

The team’s starting center for four years, Russell Bodine, departed for Buffalo in free agency. That leaves pretty much only T.J. Johnson at the position, which is obviously not an okay situation to be in.

Fortunately, this draft has several center who are starting caliber players on day one for the Bengals to add.

In Dan Kadar’s most recent mock draft for SB Nation he has the Bengals addressing that very need.

21. Cincinnati Bengals (via Buffalo Bills): James Daniels, C, Iowa

Center is overwhelmingly Cincinnati’s biggest need, so players like Daniels, Frank Ragnow of Arkansas and Billy Price of Ohio State all make sense. If Price didn’t tear his left pectoral muscle at the NFL Scouting Combine, he may have been the choice. Instead, it’s Daniels, a top athlete and good technician for a center.

Daniels would be an instant upgrade of Bodine. He is far more athletic, and he is able to use that speed to get up to the second and third level to help with blocks. That has a huge impact on the running game. He is also one of the most technically sound centers in this draft. He knows the proper angles to take, and he doesn’t lunge at quicker defenders giving them opportunities to use his own momentum against him.

The only downsides to Daniels is he lacks that strength that Frank Ragnow and Billy Price bring to the table. Those guys are able to stalemate the biggest interior linemen around, but that is something Daniels could struggle with early as he adds more size and strength. He also has a tendency to outrun blocks on the second level. He can be so quick that he gives athletic linebackers an opening to get around him.

The list isn’t long of players the Bengals could’ve taken instead of Daniels here. Outside of taking the best player available a lot of commonly mocked players to the Bengals were already gone by 21.

Players like Mike McGlinchey, Vita Vea and Maurice Hurst were off the board. Even guys like Leighton Vander Esch and Isaiah Wynn were gone. For the folks clinging to the recent Lamar Jackson news, he was taken by the Cardinals in this draft, which seems like the floor of where he could end up going.

Players like Rashaan Evans, Da’Ron Payne, or Harold Landry could tempt the Bengals at 21 as well, but outside of that it is pretty hard to see them taking someone else if this situation were to unfold.

Overall, this mock gives a good example of a plausible situation where the Bengals could reach for a player like Daniels. I’m not sure taking the top guy at a position of need would go over that poorly though.

They could try and trade back, but unless a team wants to jump the Bills for the right to draft Mason Rudolph who is also picking later in the first round, then I doubt they will get enough interest for them to deem it worth moving back.

There are far worse things the Bengals could do than solidify yet another position along the offensive line.