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Looking back at NFL Combine standouts that Bengals could target

With one of the biggest pre-draft events in the rearview mirror, we take a look at some of the more intriguing prospects who shined in Indianapolis—particularly from the standpoint of the Bengals’ potential interest level.

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Though the new NFL year kicks off with the frenzy that is free agency next week, all 32 teams have their peripheral vision on the draft. One of the early spring’s biggest events is the NFL Combine and it just concluded with a bang last weekend.

A number of players in many different position groups shined in individual drills. Of course, “The Underwear Olympics” aren’t the end-all, be-all of barometers for pro success, but the numbers in Indianapolis bear heavy weight when April rolls around.

Some of the groups and players the Cincinnati Bengals had to be watching was obvious. Offensive tackle, offensive guard, linebacker and defensive line all have to top the list. Wide receiver, cornerback and quarterback are needs, but are seen as lower down the totem pole than the former four areas.

With the Combine in the rear view mirror, let’s tie a bow around the event and have a look at the results and how things may play out when the Bengals are on the clock with the 11 picks they currently hold. Though free agency has yet to play out, there are a number of players who have been linked to Cincinnati.

Devin White, linebacker, LSU

Height: 6’0”

Weight: 237 pounds

40-yard dash: 4.42 seconds

Bench press: 22 repetitions

Vertical jump: 39.5 inches

Broad jump: 118 inches

Three cone drill: 7.07 seconds

Shuttle: 4.17 seconds

Synopsis: According to mock drafts, White is the consensus favorite for the team to land with their first round pick. Even though inside linebacker has become a lesser-valued position in recent years, there has been discussion of him being off of the board before Cincinnati picks because of his insane workout numbers.

Last year, Roquan Smith was taken eighth overall and had an outstanding season, as the Bears defense was dominant. White had some better Combine numbers than Smith (4.51 40-yard dash), but some believe the former Georgia Bulldog was a better football player on tape than White. Even so, White should be a guy who can anchor a defense for at least the first five years on a rookie deal with a team.

Draft outlook: Top-15

Devin Bush, linebacker, Michigan

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 234 pounds

40-yard dash: 4.43 seconds

Bench press: 21 repetitions

Vertical jump: 40.5 inches

Broad jump: 124 inches

Three cone drill: 6.93 seconds

Shuttle: 4.23 seconds

Synopsis: Before the Combine, most viewed Bush as a guy who would be attainable when the Bengals were to go on the clock at pick No. 42. That notion has all been shattered after Bush put up workout numbers very similar to White—in fact, he showed a little bit more athleticism in the jumping and cone drills than his draft counterpart did.

Bush’s workout will undoubtedly force teams to go back to the tape to see just how close he and White are, in terms of football skills. Don’t be surprised if both Bush and White end up on two AFC North teams this year.

Draft outlook: Top-25

Christian Wilkins, defensive lineman, Clemson

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 315 pounds

40-yard dash: 5.04 seconds

Bench press: 28 repetitions

Vertical jump: 29.5 inches

Broad jump: 107 inches

Shuttle: 4.55 seconds

Synopsis: In one of his early mock drafts, editor Geoff Hobson pegged Wilkins to Cincinnati in the first round. Even though linebacker and offensive line seem to be more pressing needs, another versatile guy up front couldn’t hurt.

Last year, Cincinnati’s defense was deplorable as a unit, but they were making more plays up front when the active Ryan Glasgow was healthy at the beginning of the season. Geno Atkins had another sound season, but the Bengals could always use another rotational player up front to push the pocket. Wilkins is an extemely fun player to watch on film and put up good numbers for his size.

Draft outlook: Top-20

Andre Dillard, offensive tackle, Washington State

Height: 6’5”

Weight: 315 pounds

40-yard dash: 4.96 seconds

Bench press: 24 repetitions

Vertical jump: 29 inches

Broad jump: 118 inches

Three cone drill: 7.44 seconds

Shuttle: 4.4 seconds

Synopsis: Dillard is known as arguably the best pass protector in the class, and his agility was on display. He had very quick times for a guy his size in the three cone and shuttle, propelling him into legitimate first round discussion.

From a Bengals perspective, some had hoped the Bengals may grab a guy like White or Bush at No. 11, and then be able to snag Dillard early in the second. However, teams are putting a premium on nimble tackles, given the variety of pass-rushers that are employed in various systems.

Draft outlook: Round 1

Cody Ford, offensive lineman, Oklahoma

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 329 pounds

40-yard dash: 5.21 seconds

Bench press: 19 repetitions

Vertical jump: 28.5 inches

Broad jump: 104 inches

Three cone drill: 8.27 seconds

Shuttle: 4.87 seconds

Synopsis: In January, Ford was the go-to guy when it came to the Bengals’ No. 11 pick and mock drafts. However, questions about his fit being more suited as a guard began surfacing and were solidified a bit last weekend in Indy.

Between his wingspan and slower times as a touted tackle in the three cone and shuttle drills, some teams might be viewing him as a more viable NFL guard than tackle. With guys like Jonah Williams, Jawaan Taylor and others crowding the group, Ford could slip through the cracks next month.

Draft outlook: Middle of first to early second round

Jonah Williams, offensive tackle, Alabama

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 302 pounds

40-yard dash: 5.12 seconds

Bench press: 23 repetitions

Vertical jump: 28 inches

Broad jump: 100 inches

Three cone drill: 8.01

Shuttle: 4.79

Synopsis: Cincy Jungle contributor and Orange and Black Insider co-hose John Sheeran has Williams still as his top tackle after an up-and-down workout by the former Crimson Tide lineman. In fairness, the big guy from the college powerhouse was steady to outstanding for 13 games last year, earning First Team All-America honors.

But, oh, that National Championship tape. Clelin Ferrel and Christian Wilkins gave Williams fits, as the vaunted Tigers line harassed Tua Tagovailoa throughout the entire evening—often from the side Williams was protecting. Still, Williams should be the first or second tackle off of the board next month.

Draft outlook: Top-15

Greedy Williams, cornerback, LSU

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 185 pounds

40-yard dash: 4.37

Synopsis: Williams opted not to participate in a lot of drills, but shined in one of the most important. He was one of the fastest rookies at the Combine, in terms of the 40-yard dash, solidifying his status as the top corner in this year’s draft.

Most folks in Who Dey Nation don’t have Williams on their radar as a possible Bengals selection, as William Jackson and Dre Kirkpatrick are still on the roster. And, even if Darqueze Dennard leaves in free agency, Williams is more of a zone boundary corner than a slot guy. Crazier things have happened, though.

Draft outlook: Top-10

Andy Isabella, wide receiver, Massachusetts

Height: 5’9”

Weight: 188 pounds

40-yard dash: 4.31 seconds

Bench press: 15 repetitions

Vertical jump: 36.5 inches

Broad jump: 121 inches

Three cone drill: 6.95 seconds

Shuttle: 4.15 seconds

Synopsis: Isabella turned heads at the Senior Bowl and became a guy who was talked about as a late day three or early day four slot receiver. He then blazed as third-fastest guy in Indianapolis this year (tied with Parris Campbell) and now there is talk of him going in the second round.

From the Bengals’ standpoint, they need to get more out of the back end of their receiving corps on offense. The hope is that Zac Taylor’s system will provide that opportunity, but having a fourth option of some kind to get in the mix with A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and John Ross would be great. Andy Dalton could use his get-the-ball-out-quickly style with Isabella and let his speed do some damage.

Draft outlook: Rounds 2-3

Montez Sweat, Edge, Mississippi State

Height: 6’6”

Weight: 260 pounds

40-yard dash: 4.41 seconds (Combine record for defensive lineman)

Bench press: 21 repetitions

Vertical jump: 36 inches

Broad jump: 125 inches

Three cone drill: 7 seconds

Shuttle: 4.29 seconds

Synopsis: Again, this position doesn’t scream “need” for the Bengals right now, but getting after the passer is always a premium commodity. Carl Lawson is coming off of a knee injury, while Michael Johnson could be closing out his solid Bengals career.

Sweat also built off of an impressive Senior Bowl and launched himself into discussions to be taken in the first half of the opening round. There is a little concern about this being the Vernon Gholston/”Workout Warrior” type of situation, but Sweat did have 22.5 sacks his past two seasons with the Bulldogs.

Draft outlook: Top-15

Tyree Jackson, quarterback, Buffalo

Height: 6’7”

Weight: 249 pounds

40-yard dash: 4.59

Vertical jump: 34.5 inches

Broad jump: 120 inches

Three cone drill: 7.09 seconds

Shuttle: 4.28 seconds

Synopsis: This kid is a physical freak and his 40-yard dash time proves it. He has a cannon of an arm and showed it off in drills this past weekend. Ironically, Jackson has been working out with Jordan Palmer this offseason, as he gets ready for the pros.

His stock probably raised a bit with his 40 time and broad jump, but scouts are still wary of his 55.8% career completion percentage. Teams will need to see that some of that is attributed to a lack of surrounding talent and/or that he is a college anomaly who has enough tools to be molded into a talented pro quarterback.

Draft outlook: Rounds 3-4

Daniel Jones, quarterback, Duke

Height: 6’5”

Weight: 221 pounds

40-yard dash: 4.81 seconds

Vertical jump: 33.5 inches

Broad jump: 120 inches

Three cone drill: 7.0 seconds

Shuttle: 4.41 seconds

Synopsis: Personally, I was impressed with a couple of the deep throws Jones made in Indianapolis, even though it was a small sample size. He has some tools to work with, but most still seem to believe that his pro ceiling is limited.

Jones will need to be in the right scheme with run-pass option plays and offenses heavy with play-action passes. That is some of what Taylor is devising with the Bengals, and it’s no coincidence that the two parties met recently.

Draft outlook: Rounds 2-3

Drew Lock, quarterback, Missouri

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 228 pounds

40-yard dash: 4.69 seconds

Vertical jump: 31 inches

Broad jump: 112 inches

Three cone drill: 7.03

Shuttle: 4.12

Synopsis: It’s odd to say, but it seems like Lock has become a victim of the Kyler Murray hype machine. It was once debated if he might be the second signal-caller off of the board this year, but chatter has cooled on him a bit.

I was pleasantly surprised at Lock’s speed and agility for a guy his size and he mixed in the occasional nice throw in workouts. His 9” hands hurt his stock a little, however, as they are smaller than that of Jones, Jackson, Murray and Dwayne Haskins.

Draft outlook: Round 1

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