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Todd McShay’s way-too-early 2019 NFL Mock Draft sees Bengals addressing unexpected position

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Most 2019 mock drafts for the Bengals focus on the team going after an offensive tackle or quarterback, but Todd McShay goes a much more realistic route for Cincinnati.

NCAA Football: Wyoming at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Way-too-early mock drafts for 2019 have been popping up all over the place. Their accuracy isn’t what they are here for. It is a way of predicting who the top players in next draft will be while also predicting needs for teams after next offseason.

Todd McShay notes most of this before going into his most recent way-too-early mock draft for 2019. He also notes that only 18 players from his way-too-early 2018 mock draft actually ended up in the first round.

In this mock, McShay has the Bengals drafting 12th overall again based on Football Outsider’s projections for next season (looking at all the other mocks that had the Bengals drafting in the top two). Here is who McShay had the Bengals take:

12. Cincinnati Bengals

Noah Fant, TE, Iowa*

Fant led the Big Ten in TDs (11) and averaged 16.5 yards per reception in 2017.

First, the asterisk notes that Fant is an underclassman. McShay must also expect a huge year from Fant as he only had 28 receptions last season. 11 of those catches were for touchdowns, but you’d expect a first round pick to have a little more production than that.

Watching highlight you can easily see the potential. At first I had to make sure I wasn’t watching the wrong person because he runs like a receiver. It looks like he never has to slow down, and he always seems to be at full speed. He also fits the mismatch body role at 6’5” and around 230 pounds. If he expands on his 2017 season, then there is no doubt he could be a first round pick.

As for the Bengals’ possible need at tight end, all you have to do is look at the team’s current contract situation at the position. Tyler Eifert, Tyler Kroft and CJ Uzomah are all set to become free agents after the 2018 season.

It is tough to think the Bengals would be re-signing even two out of the three. I think either Eifert or Kroft end up coming back depending on their respective seasons.

That leaves the Bengals with a hole at tight end. Would it be a first-round worthy hole? If a player like Fant is there, I would say yes. It should also be noted though that the Bengals passed up an opportunity to draft one of the 2018 top tight ends to help fix this issue, but they did fill other holes, so it isn’t really worth complaining about. Maybe they are looking ahead to next year’s class and like what they see there.

Overall, this feels a lot more plausible than the Bengals finishing at the bottom of the NFL and selecting a quarterback. It feel like a lot would have to go wrong for that to happen. This feels like a natural progression for the team though.