The Bengals have gone in a new direction and hired a young, 35-year-old head coach this week. It is just a matter of weeks before he gets to start building out his brand new roster.
Even though Zac Taylor is fresh off his job as the Rams’ quarterbacks coach, Bleacher Report had the Bengals taking four defensive players in their new 7-round mock draft.
In his introductory press conference, Taylor mentioned that he was excited to build the offense around the pieces they already have. This is probably a good idea, considering offense’s skill position players are loaded with talent. In fact, the Bengals’ losing streak started when the defense fell to shambles. So it would make sense that the front office wants to target defenders.
Cue Devin White.
The linebacker from LSU has probably been the one draft prospect most linked with the Bengals. So it’s no surprise that BR had the Bengals taking him with their 11th overall pick.
Here’s what they said:
Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor is expected to become Cincinnati’s new head coach after the Super Bowl, which makes it seem likely the front office is intent on keeping Andy Dalton. Taylor will be tasked with bolstering Dalton’s game while giving the offense a boost and getting the most of of Joe Mixon and Tyler Boyd.
That leaves the biggest need for Cincinnati on defense.
Speed is a huge need at the linebacker position, even with Malik Jefferson coming back from an injury in 2019 and figuring to be an impact player at one spot. Devin White would give the Bengals not just speed but instincts, toughness and playmaking skills at middle linebacker. The former prep running back has worked himself into one of the best linebackers college football has seen since Myles Jack and Jaylon Smith were running down plays.
White would make a perfect first round pick if, like in BR’s mock, other great prospects like Houston’s Ed Oliver or Alabama’s Jonah Williams are off the board.
If the Bengals address the linebacker spot in the draft, then their other prominent needs will be at tight end and the offensive line.
So with White settling in comfortably in the middle of the defense, BR has the Bengals selecting Alabama tight end Irv Smith in the second round. In 15 games, Smith caught 44 passes for 710 yards and 7 touchdowns in the Crimson Tide’s 2018 season. Smith would be drafted to help a unit with three talented starters potentially becoming free agents in March.
The only flaw in BR’s mock draft is that the Bengals don’t address the offensive line until Day 3, taking two lineman back-to-back in the fifth and sixth rounds. But, then again, there’s still free agency.
Here’s how BR’s mock draft shakes out:
- (11) Devin White, LB, LSU
- (42) Irv Smith, TE, Alabama
- (72) Juan Thornhill, S, Virginia
- (103) Terry Beckner Jr., DL, Missouri
- Nate Herbig, OG, Stanford
- Olisaemeka Udoh, OT, Elon
- Sheldrick Redwine, CB, Miami
(Note: since the compensatory picks have not been announced, the order for the last three rounds is still up in the air. BR went with draft position for those and decided not to include the overall number because that will change before the draft.)
Who would you like to see the Bengals take?