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Filed under: gets it totally wrong in latest mock draft

In a recent mock draft, Geoff Hobson had the team going an unorthodox route. Is there any merit to the claim?

NFL Combine - Day 3 Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

When it comes to this time of year and the NFL Draft, people grasp desperately for headlines.

Shocking takes, spinning of the rumor mill and, unfortunately, being first instead of being right sometimes takes precedent.

Still, there are some headlines that both grab your attention and make you utter the audible question of “why?”.

One might be inclined to have this reaction when looking at a recent mock draft by editor, Geoff Hobson. In a time where a handful of names have been commonly mocked to the team at No. 21 overall, Hobson went a completely different route (pun intended).

21. Bengals _ WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama; Geoff Hobson,

Don’t get mad. Yes, they are stacked with young, unproven receivers. Take a deep breath. Right, they did take John Ross and all 17 of his snaps at No. 9 last year. But don’t read Ridley’s name in there.

Read, “The Slide.” Ridley is symbolic of the dilemma they’ve probably been grappling with the last month. The Bengals are going to come face-to-face with their best-player-available philosophy and balancing it against need. So the discussion has to be had.

At first blush, an up-in-arms reaction takes place. How can a team who essentially wasted No. 9 overall pick’s rookie season in 2017 give proper rationale to another high pick at the position a year later?

Cincinnati currently has superstar A.J. Green under contract through 2019, and aside from the aforementioned Ross, the team also has Tyler Boyd (second round), Josh Malone (fourth round) and veteran Brandon LaFell in the fold.

With Tyler Eifert returning and the team coming off of two consecutive losing seasons, how will another potential pine-riding receiver help the cause this season?

The other question with Hobson’s pick of Ridley is in value. This isn’t the deep 2017 class who had three guys at the position taken within the first 10 picks. Ridley is the one of the best of a weak group, yes, but there are so many other ways the Bengals could take at No. 21 who could immediately help their team more than Ridley.

Hobson does salvage his two-round mock with a pick of UTEP guard Will Hernandez at No. 46 overall, who would be a steal at that spot. Cincinnati is looking to find starters at center, right guard and right tackle this offseason, and though Hernandez has been a left guard for his entire collegiate career, he would bring the nastiness needed in the AFC North.

46. BENGALS _ G Will Hernandez, UTEP; Geoff Hobson,

Talk about a slide. This is a guy being talked about late in the first round and early in the second. It’s simply not likely. What throws off this mock is there are five running backs and three tight ends gone before the Bengals pick here. That’s hard to see in the real world...

OK, Hernandez isn’t a center but he’s a no-brainer here. They’ve got to get better running the ball. That has to be an emphasis and some have the 6-3, 340-pound Hernandez as the best run blocker in the draft. Perfect. He played defense in high school and reportedly plays the position with the same type of fiery mentality. That would fit in with what new offensive line coach Frank Pollack is all about. In this first week of off-season workouts the linemen have been talking about his intensity.

Seeing as how Hernandez in the second round would be immense value, we would have zero questions about the selection. So, let’s go back to the Ridley pick.

Since Hobson made this pick public, he’s been raked over the coals quite a bit. There is merit to those feelings, given a number of reasons. Aside from other positional needs and Ross needing time to blossom, there are questions about value.

Is Ridley even worth a first round pick by anyone, let alone the Bengals? According to CBS Sports, Ridley is ranked as the sixth-best receiver in this year’s class and as the 46th overall prospect. In an offseason where the Bengals need immediate contributors, it’s hard to see the reasoning behind this pick.

Additionally, Cincinnati could use help at defensive tackle, linebacker, offensive guard (which Hobson gave them in Hernandez), offensive tackle and center. Wide receiver seems to be a luxury type of pick on a number of levels.

Still, there is a defense of Hobson’s pick, however weak some may seem it to be.

Since Brandon LaFell’s 2016 campaign with the Bengals, fans have been somewhat-adamantly pushing him out of the door. Between the ability to find a comparable guy with ease and his price tag, it seems as if fans want more out of a guy flanking A.J. Green. Hence, the excitement when Ross was selected last year.

In short, the Bengals absolutely need big-play help opposite of the Hall of Fame receiver. But, how soon we forget, though, right?

The other thing for knee-jerk reactionists to note is in the players who were selected ahead of Ridley in Hobson’s media mock. By the time the Cincinnati was on the clock in this hypothetical scenario, Quenton Nelson, Mike McGlinchey, Denzel Ward, Roquan Smith, Tremaine Edmunds, Vita Vea, Marcus Davenport, Josh Jackson, Derwin James, Da’Ron Payne and Maurice Hurst were all off of the board.

We know that the Bengals value “skill positions” much higher than other spots, and if Mike Brown is pounding the table again this year, Ridley could be one of many players in consideration, depending on how the board falls.

Here’s the thing: if Hobson had flip-flopped the two picks he made in their respective rounds, far fewer questions would have arose and the scenario would have seemed much more plausible.

Still, a receiver? That’s not what this team needs at No. 21. They need to get to the “meat-and-potatoes” of the roster this year by bulking up the offensive line and the front seven of the defense. This just isn’t the year for the Bengals to use a first round pick on a wide receiver who will be fourth or fifth in the pecking order at that position.