The Bengals started off the 2018 NFL Draft strong acquiring their center in Ohio State’s Billy Price.
As the draft moved into Day 2, the offensive line remained a concern and the Bengals had several other holes to fill. With three picks on Day 2, they had a great opportunity to find more players who can contribute immediately, and they did just that.
With another seven picks on Day 3, they will have an opportunity to add some depth and find a few players who may have slipped through the cracks.
It was disappointing to see the Bengals trade back in the second round when they had an opportunity to continue to improve their offensive line by selecting Connor Williams from Texas. Williams was the top-ranked tackle in this class at the beginning of the season and was in the discussion early on as an option for the team with the 12th pick.
Despite concerns related to his height and his drop off in play in an injury shortened-season, Williams would have been a great player to add into the mix at right tackle or guard.
When the Bengals did make their selection, Wake Forest safety Jessie Bates was the pick. Bates is arguably the best pure free safety in the draft. That is a perfect fit for the Bengals who have a talented trio of safeties in George Iloka, Shawn Williams, and Clayton Fejedelem but all three are better closer to the line of scrimmage.
Bates has excellent speed and can flip his hips and run with ease. He makes excellent reads and has the guts to undercut routes and make plays on the ball. Bates is a perfect fit for what the Bengals need in their secondary, and should provide a boost to a defense in desperate need of more turnovers.
Sam Hubbard was discussed as a possible first round pick and was expected to go no later than the second round. The Ohio State defensive end played a versatile role for the Buckeyes and had success as both an inside and outside pass rusher and dropping into coverage. He has well developed pass rush moves, fast hands, and a great first step. He is a relentless player who keep moving until the whistle is blown. Hubbard is an excellent addition to the Bengals’ defensive front and a great value in the third round.
Early in the pre-draft process some people projected Malik Jefferson as a player who could slip into the end of the first round. Jefferson was a five-star recruit who struggled to reach his full potential until his last season in college. He is an excellent athlete who can run sideline to sideline, but will miss tackles or get cut back on at times. He has shown the ability to mirror quarterbacks effectively which could be extremely useful give what the future of AFC North quarterbacks has is store. Jefferson has the potential to be a huge steal.
Day 3 Mock
4th Round - 12th Selection - Offensive Tackle - Jamarco Jones - Ohio State
After going all defense on Day 2, the Bengals could still afford to improve their offensive line. Jones and Oregon’s Tyrell Crosby would both be great picks at this point, Both were excellent college players with well developed technique, but both likely slipped because they are only 6’4”.
The edge goes to Jones because his pass protection is a little stronger. He also gets movement in the run game and is athletic enough to pull effectively. If his height is a concern for the Bengals, they can bump him inside where he can play next to fellow Buckeye Billy Price.
5th Round - 14th Selection - Siran Neal - Defensive Back - Jacksonville State
Neal is a great athlete and a big-time hitter. He can play any position in the defensive backfield. He gives the Bengals added depth in the secondary, help on special teams, and possibly a future starting nickel corner if the team loses Darqueze Dennard in free agency following the season.
5th Round - 21st Selection - Tegray Scales - Linebacker - Indiana
Scales was a huge part of the Hoosiers’ defense and contributed on special teams as well. The Bengals need to add more depth to the linebacker position as well as more talent to their special teams. Adding Scales to third round pick Malik Jefferson and 2017 sixth round draft pick Jordan Evans gives the team some nice, young depth.
5th Round - 33rd Selection - Daniel Carlson - Kicker - Auburn
The Bengals need to figure out a long term answer at the kicker position. Carlson has a big leg and has made every extra point he has attempted in his four years at Auburn. It may seem early draft a kicker, but being the last pick the Bengals have until the end of the seventh round, it may be the last chance to get a good one.
7th Round - 31st Selection - Maurice Hurst - Defensive Tackle - Michigan
Hurst is by far the highest ranked player remaining on every draft board, but unfortunately it seems his heart condition may be a bigger problem than the public knows. The biggest concern should be for the health and well-being of the player, but if there is even a chance that he could play again he is worth taking a seventh round pick on. From a public relations standpoint, it also gives Hurst the ability to say he was drafted even if he never suits up.
7th Round - 34th Selection - Janarion Grant - Wide Receiver / Return Specialist - Rutgers
The biggest issue with Grant is his health. He has struggled to stay on the field over the last couple of seasons, but when he has played he is electric as a wide receiver, kickoff returner, and punt returner. The Bengals already lost Adam Jones who handled returning duties from time to time. They also have Alex Erickson approaching free agency. Grant could step into Erickson’s role and maybe see a few touches on offense on screens or reverses.
7th Round - 35th Selection - Devron Davis - Cornerback - Texas-San Antonio
The Bengals love drafting corners and for good reason. In a passing league you can never have enough talent in the defensive backfield. Davis is an excellent talent who has been overlooked in this year’s draft, but has the ability to develop into a high level starter. He has the length that NFL team’s covet and is an excellent man corner. Davis has no shortage of confidence and if he is a seventh-round pick he would be extremely motivated to punish the rest of the league for letting him slip so far.