With the draft approaching, the Bengals need to figure out how to utilize their draft capital to help them get back into playoff contention.
They have multiple needs, but by far the biggest is the offensive line. The offensive line will need to drastically improve in order for quarterback Andy Dalton to get back on track and 2017 second round running back Joe Mixon to meet his potential.
While the team currently lacks a starting center, that may not be the best direction to go in the first round. There are multiple highly regarded centers in this year’s draft. In order to fully capitalize on their draft picks, the Bengals may be well advised to wait until the second or third round to select a center and draft the top talent in other areas of need in Round 1.
1st Round - Connor Williams - Offensive Tackle - Texas
The Bengals trade back and end up getting two starting tackles out of the deal. Cordy Glenn and Williams would solidify the edges of the Bengals’ offensive line. Williams is an excellent pass protector who lacks the elite size that is desired in tackles. Although he is not a 6’7” monster, his arm length of 33 inches is adequate for an NFL tackle.
2nd Round - Billy Price - Center - Ohio State
It is no secret the the Bengals need a center in this year’s draft. Price would start immediately for the Bengals. He can find himself off balance at times, but he is a physical player who would add an attitude the the team’s offensive line that they have lacked in recent years.
3rd Round - Duke Ejiofor - Defensive End - Wake Forest
Ejiofor would give the Bengals another pass rusher and one with the ability to play from the inside in passing situations. Ejiofor has excellent hands and has developed the ability to use them effectively as a pass rusher. He is an excellent tackler and plays well against the run.
3rd Round - Fred Warner - Linebacker - BYU
Warner is a great value for a player with tremendous upside. He is particularly strongest against the pass, which is an area where the Bengals linebackers have struggled. Warner could develop into a quality as either an inside or an outside backer.
4th Round - Christian Sam - Linebacker - Arizona State
Sam is another great value pick for a team in need of linebacker depth. Sam is right up the Bengals alley. He is a 240 pound linebacker with the ability to run sideline-to-sideline. He was also super-productive totaling 127 tackles in 2017. He could develop into a solid starter.
5th Round - Skyler Phillips - Offensive Guard - Idaho State
Marvin Lewis goes to back to his Alma Mater to find a guard who could compete for a starting position. Phillips is being overlooked by many, but has the skill set to be an excellent interior lineman in the NFL. At 6’3” 344 he is a people mover who would be able to open up holes for Mixon.
5th Round - Simmie Cobbs - Wide Receiver - Indiana
Cobbs is a big receiver who could contribute in a role similar to Brandon LaFell. At 6’4” he is a solid red zone target. What he lacks in elite speed, he makes up for by running great routes. Cobbs had a very impressive game against Ohio State, where he was matched up largely against Denzel Ward and won that battle more often than he lost it.
5th Round - Siran Neal - Defensive Back - Jacksonville State
Neal did not play big time football, but looks to be a big time player in the NFL. Neal can play inside corner. He can play outside corner. He even plays a safety. He has great speed and is an excellent tackler. With his talent and versatility, he could contribute in many different ways of defense and special teams.
7th Round - Ito Smith - Running Back - Southern Miss
Smith would be a great change of pace to compliment Mixon and Giovani Bernard. Smith is a smaller back with excellent vision and the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. He was extremely productive in college rushing for 2,874 yards and 30 touchdowns while catching 83 passes over the last two seasons.
7th Round - Du’Vonta Lampkin - Defensive Tackle - Oklahoma
Lampkin’s attitude is the top thing holding him back, but that never scared the Bengals before. Lampkin is a force in the middle of the defense who does an excellent job against the run. He could bring great value as an early down run defender.
7th Round - Kevin Toliver II - Cornerback - LSU
Toliver could develop into an excellent player, but he has a long way to go. He is the tall and long type of corner that the Bengals covet. He has excellent speed and the physicality to win in press man.