The NFL Scouting Combine is the prime opportunity for many prospects to elevate their stock before the draft. Many analysts, experts, scouts and front office members will be looking back at the results from the combine when the fate of these players are being decided in April.
For the Bengals, this could be their chance to find a few diamonds in the rough for Zac Taylor’s inaugural season. Cincinnati is projected to end up with 11 picks in total, so their chances of hitting on just one of their late round picks are naturally higher than most teams.
If neither a starting linebacker or right tackle is found via free agency, fans will be split in regards to which position should be addressed in the first round. As luck would have it, there are several quality players who should be available for them in the middle rounds of the draft. NFL.com recently put together a list of players for each team to watch during the Combine, and their pick for the Bengals makes a on of sense.
Chuma Edoga, OT, USC: Edoga helped himself with a stellar week of practice in Mobile. He’d fit the Bengals and should come off the board in the second or third round.
There seems to be an established group of offensive tackles who have a case to go in the first round. Early on it looked like Jonah Williams would be the only tackle taken in or around the top 10, but guys like Jawaan Taylor and Cody Ford have started to “rise up” draft boards. It is possible Cincinnati could end up with one of those three guys, but in the scenario they take a player like Devin White at linebacker or another position entirely, then tackle will be a position to keep an eye on to start the second day of the draft.
Edoga could easily be in the mix for one of their picks beyond the first round.
Still just 21 years old, Edoga is a two-year starter from USC. On tape, he is a very athletic tackle who knows how to get to the proper positions in run blocking, but many scouts have issue with his pass protection. It isn’t that he couldn’t possibly fix those issues, but he will also have to bulk up at the next level as well. He has the long arms to make it work as a tackle though.
As is the case for most players drafted outside the first round, Edoga isn’t quite ready to start right away. Edoga could show if he has maintained his perceived athleticism along with some added muscle at the combine — that would make him a more attractive option and give him an edge against the competition. He likely won’t work his way into the first round, but it would be putting his best foot forward to follow up on his impressive Senior Bowl week showing he has been committed to getting better. That is the kind of attitude you need from a pick like that.
If he weighs in and tests well enough, having him as a backup plan in the second or third round could make Cincinnati more comfortable with passing up an offensive lineman in the first round with the hopes of Edoga being available on the next day.