The Bengals have a lot of needs that they need to address to become competitive again. Every year there are plenty of great prospects at the Senior Bowl and the Bengals would be wise to keep an eye on the crop of players there. Some of the best talent is centered around the Bengals’ biggest needs as well.
In this loaded class of seniors, be on the lookout for these five players when college football’s most well known all-star game kicks off later today.
1. Rock Ya-Sin, Temple CB
A transfer from Presbyterian College, Ya-Sin is one of the top corners in Mobile right now and one of the overall top cornerbacks in the draft. He has a lot of potential and should get drafted somewhere between the second and fourth round, which would be ideal for the Bengals. Cornerback Darqueze Dennard might leave Cincinnati for a bigger contract when free agency rolls around and the Bengals may find themselves with a need at the position. Even if Dennard is kept, the Bengals love stockpiling good cornerbacks and Ya-Sin is a perfect fit with their current situation.
2. Dalton Risner, Kansas State OT
Risner is one of the top offensive tackles in the draft and someone that the Bengals should take a long look at. In his collegiate career, Risner played and started at multiple positions, and that positional versatility will be highly coveted come draft time. For the Bengals specifically, he’d be a projected starter at either right tackle or right guard. As of now, it’s possible he could fall to the Bengals’ second round pick, allowing them to fix right tackle after attacking another position in the first. But if his pre-draft process continues to be positive, he may not last that long. Versatile, hard-working players like Risner are exactly the type of players the Bengals need with the transition to a new era.
3. Andy Isabella, UMass WR
The Bengals wide receiver depth seemed pretty good going into the season, but they performed pretty poorly when called up due to injury. Josh Malone hardly saw the field, Alex Erickson is average as a receiver, Cody Core shouldn’t see the field and Auden Tate may have gotten a bit too much hype. The Bengals need to supplement this receiving core with more talent to be able to fill in for injuries and to come in when the starters are tired. Isabella is a fast and smart player that could help fill in for Boyd or Ross in the offense.
4. Andre Dillard, Washington State OT
A light-footed tackle with limited exposure to vertical pass sets, Dillard has a lot of the traits that teams look for in starting offensive tackles with some added risk in there as well. Nevertheless, the Bengals would be wise to give him a look. He is getting some first round buzz, and a solid combine performance may solidify his stock, but the absurd talent on the defensive side of the ball could push him right into the Bengals lap in the second round. The Bengals traded back in the second half of the first half to take Billy Price, they could do the same with Dillard this year. The Bengals need to be aggressive when fixing their offensive line this offseason while simultaneously not reaching for a position instead of a talent.
5. Josh Oliver, San Jose State TE
Tight end figures to be a decent need for the Bengals, but it really depends on how they address it in free agency. Regardless of which direction they go in, it is clear that their offense operates much better with a good tight end to take advantage of mismatches. Operating under the assumption the Bengals bring back Tyler Eifert and one of C.J. Uzomah or Tyler Kroft though, they may not want to take a tight end too high in the draft. Oliver is the perfect fit as a guy that likely won’t go too high, but seems to be well rounded with more room to grow. If the Bengals want to hit the reset button and take one higher to go along with Oliver that could also be a good idea. Like with Uzomah and Kroft, but hopefully better picks.
The Bengals could find a lot of useful contributors at the Senior Bowl and would be wise to keep an eye on all the players — especially at their biggest areas of need. Outside of linebacker, the talent at the Senior Bowl lines up pretty well with the Bengals needs, which seems as much of a sign as anything else that I’ve seen.