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11 NFL draft sleepers the Bengals could target on Day 3

In last year’s NFL Draft the Bengals spent a fourth round pick on Carl Lawson who is already shining as one of the team’s top pass rushers. In this year’s draft the Bengals will have an opportunity to find more sleepers who can help them get back to the playoffs.

NCAA Football: Southern California at Arizona State Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

As the NFL Draft approaches, most of the talk around the Bengals has been about who they will take with their first round pick. But the team has an opportunity to select some excellent players late in the draft, too. There are many players who will likely be selected on Day 3 who could have a major impact for the Bengals over time.

Here are 11 sleepers who the Bengals could be targeting for Day 3 of this year’s draft.

1) Dane Cruikshank - safety - Arizona

As a safety prospect, Cruikshank is the complete package. He is an excellent tackler, can play in the box, but has the speed and range to play as a deep middle field player. He has great ball skills and had three interceptions last season. Cruikshank’s versatility would fit well into the Bengals’ defensive ideology. He seems to be better suited to the free safety role then Georgia Iloka, Shawn Williams, and Clayton Fejedelem which would give the unit something they need.

The Bengals sent Teryl Austin to Arizona pro day where he reportedly put Cruikshank through a grueling workout.

2) Christian Sam - linebacker - Arizona State

The Bengals have shown they like drafting players who produce at a high level in college. In his final season for the Sun Devils, Sam had 127 tackles. He fits the mold of a Bengals linebacker. At 6’1” and 244 pounds he is a big thumper who is excellent against the run. He has shown the ability to match up well in pass coverage and has a nice burst when pursuing a tackle. With Preston Brown on a one-year deal, drafting a player like Sam on day three, could be an excellent way for the Bengals to prepare for the future.

3) Siran Neal - defensive back - Jacksonville State

Neal’s versatility makes him the D1-FCS version of Minkah Fitzpatrick. He has played safety, outside corner, and inside corner. He has excellent speed and is a physical tackler. His traits and versatility will make him a great depth piece to the Bengals secondary who can contribute on special teams and substitution packages immediately. With Darqueze Dennard nearing the end of his contract, Neal could be an excellent candidate to slide into the nickel corner role.

4) Tyquan Lewis - defensive lineman - Ohio State

Lewis is not the twitchiest athlete, and his combine performance was nothing to write home about, but he can flat out play. Lewis has been a consistent performer for one of the highest acclaimed defensive units in the country over the last four seasons. Over that time he had 23 sacks and 34 tackles for a loss. Lewis is considered a defensive end, but frequently rotated to the inside for the Buckeyes. He fits well with the Bengals as a replacement for Chris Smith. At 6’3”, 269 pounds he could play the end on early downs and work as an interior pass rusher in nickel situations,

5) Jaleel Scott - wide receiver - New Mexico State

Calling a man who is 6’5”, 218 pounds underdeveloped seems a bit odd, but that is exactly what Scott is as a receiver. He’s an excellent athlete who can really move once he opens up his stride. As you might expect, Scott excels in jump ball situations and his size and speed make him nearly impossible to match up against. With Tyler Eifert’s health being a constant concern, Scott would give the Bengals another big red zone target to put across from A.J. Green. Scott still has a lot of room to grow and could develop into a more versatile receiving threat with time.

6) Devron Davis - cornerback - Texas-San Antonio

While scouts have been flocking to San Antonio to see Marcus Davenport, they may have noticed Davis, a 6’, 210 pound pure lockdown corner. Davis has excellent speed, smooth hips, and well developed man coverage skills. He has the confidence to succeed at the corner position and the edge to want to punish any team that didn’t draft him. With Adam Jones gone, the Bengals could use depth at cornerback, and Davis has the tools to push for a position as an inside or outside starting corner.

7) Skyler Phillips - offensive guard - Idaho State

Phillips is 6’3”, 318 pounds and gets serious movement in the run game. He is an extremely aggressive player which who always finishes off his opponent. He does have some technique issues, which are correctible. Philips is a strong player with some great intangibles who could develop into a starting guard with time.

8) Janarion Grant - wide receiver / return specialist - Rutgers

Grant is an good receiver and an incredible return specialist who has had difficulties staying healthy over the past few seasons. Grant returned three punts and five kickoffs for touchdowns in his career. In 2015 alone he had three kickoff return touchdowns. As you would expect, Grant is dynamic with the ball in his hands. With Alex Erickson becoming a free agent after the season, Grant could become the team’s return specialist and is a player they would want to create a few touches a game for on offense.

9) Chase Litton - quarterback - Marshall

Matt Barkley is not the end-all-be-all of backup quarterbacks in Cincinnati. At 6’6” and 230 pounds Litton is a big man with a big arm. He throws a great deep ball and can do so with excellent touch. Litton needs time to develop his decision making, but has the physical tools that could give him a chance to start somewhere down the line. The Bengals can develop him as trade-bait or as a possible eventual replacement to Andy Dalton.

10) Boston Scott- Running Back - Louisiana Tech

When a player is 5’6” and 199 pounds, many will question how long he can hold up without injury. Scott managed just fine carrying the ball 183 times last season and averaging 5.7 yards per carry. He is a dynamic player who has shown the ability to contribute in the pass game as well. He would be an interesting change-of-pace from Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard who the Bengals could give a handful of touches to in each game. It helps that the Bengals have already shown considerable interest in Scott, including a Top-30 visit, in which he was among the final prospects to visit Paul Brown Stadium this draft season.

11) Du’Vonte Lampkin - nose tackle - Oklahoma

Lampkin declaring for the draft was a huge surprise because he wasn’t even a regular starter at Oklahoma. Lampkin is 6’4”, 335 pounds and can be an immovable in the middle of the defensive front. But, he has poor technique and is extremely inconsistent. Lampkin really needed more time in school to develop, but he could be a diamond in the rough if the Bengals are willing to take the time to develop him.