Frequently, the Bengals use a best player available mantra when heading into the draft. The idea being, they take the best player available when on the clock, which ends up creating a solid draft class. One area in which the Bengals struck gold in last year’s draft was in the fourth round when they selected Carl Lawson. Lawson played great for the Bengals all season, and as a fourth round pick, he was well worth the 116th overall selection.
With Michael Johnson aging and Carlos Dunlap’s contract up after the 2018 season, the Bengals will consider adding another defensive end to the mix in this year’s draft.
Josh Sweat from Florida State has some of the physical traits to catch the attention of the Bengals if the timing is right, which would likely mean him being available in Round 3. Sweat is a taller defensive end whose long arms make him attractive for NFL teams. However, one thing that has plagued Sweat throughout his football career is injuries, and if the Bengals were to look at Sweat, they’d need to be confident in his short-term and long-term health.
Sweat skipped his senior year at Florida State to pursue a career at the NFL level, partially because of a knee injury he has been dealing with since high school. This knee injury could prevent Sweat from having a lengthy NFL level, so he’s coming out of college early to try and extend his professional career. This has concerned some NFL scouts, but playing a full season at Florida State last year showed his talent and he could be worth a draft pick at the right price.
Weight: 250 pounds
Position: Defensive end
College: Florida State
Projected Round: Rounds 2-4
Sweat has a large frame for the position that he’s playing and uses his frame and long arms to create separation at the point of attack. This combined with his strength means that at times he can move the offensive line, which can force runners to move around him, dictating the flow of play. At Florida State, he was used in twists a lot, which allowed him to overpower guards in the trenches. At the pro level, some of these skills will translate, but Sweat will have to work to overcome some of his weaknesses as well. For example, he usually is one of the last linemen out of his stance after the snap, meaning his reaction time will need to improve in order to compete in the pros. At times, Sweat can also take poor pursuit angles, as well as give up on plays. At the NFL level, that won’t cut it and will need to be fixed if Sweat wants to see time on the field.
Against Alabama, Florida State used Sweat on a lot of inside stunts to not only disrupt the running game between the tackles, but to overpower some of the guards inside during pass rushing situations. Sweat has active hands at the point of attack, which make him a solid lineman who can make plays when the timing is right. He has the speed and athletic ability to make some solid plays though, once leaping over another defender to make a sack.
How he fits with the Bengals:
Sweat makes an interesting case for the Bengals. Like Margus Hunt back in 2013, Sweat presents as an interesting project since he wouldn’t need to start right away, but has the size that scouts and coaches alike enjoy utilizing on the field. However, with his injury concerns, and the fact that the Bengals have Carl Lawson who arguably deserves to start opposite of Carlos Dunlap along with Jordan Willis who can play well in a rotation, Sweat might be a player that the Bengals could decide to pass on considering his ceilingcould be lower than that of a player at a position of bigger need.
Sweat needs to work on his reaction time, as well as his skills in locating the ball once it’s out of the quarterback’s hands. Lots of times on film, Sweat would find himself one-on-one with the quarterback, but would be unable to swat the ball as it was being thrown. This means that Sweat would either have to make the sack, or chase the ball carrier, which resulted in plays gaining positive yards instead of incompletions. Whichever NFL team does take a chance on Sweat, they’ll be receiving a player who has all the tools necessary to be a solid contributor but needs some good coaching and to put in hard work.