Mock drafts are always a peculiar thing, especially when conducted by one person.
While all mock drafts are hypothetical, some mock drafts lose their sense of originality when they are done by a single person selecting for every team. It is much rarer to see a mock draft conducted by individuals for every team, but the results sometimes yield situations and scenarios that you just don’t get from individuals doing the whole things themselves. I’m not saying one is better than the other, but it is nice to break up the monotony.
That is what Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com did recently when he participated in a mock draft where he only picked for the Bengals and used picks from various analysts and team reporters for the top 10 picks. The results landed a Devin you probably weren’t expecting in Bengal’s stripes.
LB Devin Bush, Michigan
But when it comes to what they need on this defense more than anything, the eye keeps going back to Bush even though it looks like a reach. Scouts, Inc., rates him 18th. Mel Kiper Jr., has sent him to Pittsburgh at No. 20... With Vontaze Burfict barely being able to play the last two seasons, the Bengals defense has been carved in the middle of the field by either the run or mismatches horizontally not vertically and they look a few years behind the times schematically. Wilkins would be nice and, yeah, maybe Bush is a reach. Maybe. But what do they need more than anything? And if he plays anywhere near the reports, who’ll remember he’s a reach?
It should be noted that previously Hobson had Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins going at 11, and he passed him up here. At the time, Hobson noted the Bengals had one of the league’s worst run defenses, so Wilkins would help with that. Even then you could make the argument that adding a defensive tackle wouldn’t fix the bigger issue with linebackers looking as incompetent as they did.
It seems Hobson has at least started entertaining that reality by picking Bush. The Michigan product isn’t really viewed as a top-tier player in this draft, but he would indeed fill a huge need. He may not come in and be as great as many expect Devin White out of LSU to be, but he still has the potential to be a very good linebacker in the league if he keeps progressing in pass coverage.
The real thing he has that the Bengals have been sorely missing from their linebackers is athleticism. Cincinnati has prioritized sure-tacklers in the recent drafts, but the NFL has evolved past that. Gone are the days where you could get by with a linebacker who can’t cover. Offensive coordinators have easy ways to isolate their speedy running backs, athletic tight ends and even receivers on to linebackers in just about every coverage and formation.
You need linebackers in today’s NFL who can play sideline-to-sideline and cover between the numbers. If you don’t have them, your defense is bound to get picked apart pretty quickly.
In this mock Hobson didn’t simulate any trades, and this pretty much shows the worst case scenario for Cincinnati. White was taken by the Lions at eight, Jawaan Taylor followed him by being selected ninth overall by the Bills and there was only one quarterback taken in the top 10.
The other player at a position of need Cincinnati should probably consider would have to be Cody Ford out of Oklahoma to sure up the right tackle position. He has even started to be projected in the top 10 as his stock seems to be on the rise. If Cincinnati was open to defensive linemen, they’d have their choice of Ed Oliver, Clelin Ferrell or Wilkins. They’d even have their choice of the second quarterback in the draft, whoever that may be for them.
It isn’t that Bush would be a bad pick, but if this particular situation came where Cincinnati was sitting there wanting a linebacker without White around, they should trade back for whoever wants their choice at quarterback. The Dolphins (pick 13) and Washington (pick 15) would likely be bidding to get their quarterback of the future. Cincinnati would also likely still end up with the chance to take Bush in the teens while adding some ammo to help fill out the roster in Zac Taylor’s image.