It will likely be an offensive lineman, as this is still the biggest area of concern for next season. Right tackle, center and right guard all need upgrading, and one of those spots could be addressed with the 21st pick.
Over at ESPN, Mel Kiper Jr. just released his final big board. It’s pretty clear which center he likes most in this draft between Arkansas’ Frank Ragnow and Ohio State’s Billy Price, two strong targets for the Bengals in Round 1.
Kiper has Ragnow ranked 27th on his final big board, so taking him at 21 would be decent value. However, Kiper is not high on Price at all, ranking him 67th overall. That means he would be considered a reach if the Bengals took him in Round 2 with the 46th overall pick, so taking him in Round 1 would be a massive reach.
Thankfully, this is just the opinion of one draft expert, and it by no means indicates how good Price is really going to be in the NFL, but it is something to consider.
As for Iowa’s James Daniels, he’s ranked 39th overall, so he too would be a reach for the Bengals in Round 1.
If the Bengals opt to address defensive tackle, Kiper is very high on Alabama’s Da’Ron Payne, who is ranked 13th. He’s also high on Washington’s Vita Vea, who’s ranked 14th. While this isn’t as big of a need as center, it’s clear that Kiper thinks either tackle would be great value for the Bengals at 21.
If the Bengals want to address offensive tackle, Kiper has UCLA’s Kolton Miller ranked 21st, just ahead of Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey at 22. If the Bengals draft a tackle, I believe it’s McGlinchey they would take at 21, not Miller.
In terms of the linebackers that could be in play for 21, Kiper has Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch ranked 37th overall, while Alabama’s Rashaan Evans is ranked 23rd. It’s been a hot debate as to which linebacker should be drafted higher, and they both could be in play for the Bengals at 21.
Over at Pro Football Focus, their final big board is also higher on Ragnow in terms of he centers in this draft. They have Ragnow ranked 14th overall:
14. FRANK RAGNOW, ARKANSAS – CENTER
Ragnow doesn’t have the rare physical traits that (Quenton) Nelson possesses, but he’s been arguably as dominant when healthy over the past couple seasons. He’s been PFF’s top-graded center in back-to-back seasons despite being only limited to 415 snaps this past year. In 2,603 collegiate snaps, Ragnow did not allow a single sack.
But like Kiper, PFF is also very low on Price:
69. BILLY PRICE, OHIO STATE – CENTER
Price is one of the rare offensive line prospects who can claim starting experience at all three interior positions. Offensive line coaches will love that, as well as the fact that he plays every snap like he’s out for blood. Price is as aggressive an offensive line prospect as there is in this draft.
That’s a pretty big difference between Ragnow and Price in the eyes of two different draft websites. Perhaps this is why the Bengals could be trending more toward Ragnow if they take a center at 21.
PFF is also high on McGlinchey:
15. MIKE MCGLINCHEY, NOTRE DAME – TACKLE
McGlinchey’s three-year sample of grading is about as good as we’ve seen since we started grading college players and easily tops in this class. The fact that he’s done it at both left and right tackle makes it that much easier a projection to the next level. He’s far from a perfect prospect, but he does so many things well that he’s ascended to the top of this class.
I don’t think McGlinchey is going to make it to 21, but if he does, the Bengals may be better off with him than any of the centers.
PFF is also high on Vea, ranking him 20th overall, while Payne is ranked 37th.
As for the linebackers, PFF has Esch ranked 26th, but Evans is down at 44th overall.
One under-the-radar prospect that could be in contention for the Bengals at 21 is Georgia guard Isaiah Wynn. Kiper ranks Wynn 30th, while PFF has him at 16th. He actually played tackle at Georgia, so maybe the Bengals draft him to compete for the right tackle spot, even if he winds up being the starting right guard.