The first wave of free agency has gone by, and while the Bengals haven’t drastically changed in their March approach, the needs of the teams in front of them in the NFL draft have been altered. The actions of many teams through the first week of the new NFL year has had a pretty drastic impact on the most recent mock drafts.
Previously, it seemed that linebacker Devin White was almost-unanimously mocked to the Bengals at No. 11 overall, but now it seems that pundits have changed their tunes. From pass-rushers to quarterbacks, the Bengals seems to have far more possibilities in the first round than they did a week ago. It also seems that many draftniks aren’t overly-sold that Cincinnati has done enough to settle some big positional questions.
Here are some of the most recent first round mock draft picks to the Bengals from various media outlets:
If Taylor is still on the board when the Bengals pick at No. 11, he should be an easy selection. He’s an excellent pass-blocking right tackle, and he has the strength to handle powerful edge rushers. A three-year starter, Taylor is the type of NFL-ready prospect Cincinnati needs.
There’s no such thing as too much pass rush. Cincy’s defensive line already boasts established stars in Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, an up-and-coming talent in Carl Lawson, and 2018 third-rounder Sam Hubbard, but the chance to add an explosive edge presence like Burns would be tough to pass up. The former Seminole blew the doors off the combine, measuring in the 94th percentile in athleticism among NFL edge rushers with a 4.53-second 40-yard dash time and a 36-inch vertical jump at 249 pounds. He’s got a quick first step and rushes with rare bend, giving him the chance to develop into an elite rusher in the NFL.
Linebacker -- namely Devin Bush -- will be considered, but Williams provides more return on investment, and he directly helps Andy Dalton.
The Bengals re-signed Preston Brown, but they could still use more help at linebacker. This speedy playmaker diagnoses and finds his way to the ball quickly. Bush’s dad is a former NFL safety.
Two prospects, Haskins and Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, are considered elite prospects in this year’s class. If the Arizona Cardinals and/or New York Giants pass on their opportunities to select signal-callers, everyone else among the top 10 already has a quarterback plan in place. The Cincinnati Bengals are far from settled at the position. Andy Dalton turns 32 later this year, and the organization can release him without incurring any dead money. Furthermore, a new coaching staff isn’t tied to the veteran signal-caller. Haskins can provide a talent infusion the Bengals roster desperately needs. He’s a prospect with true franchise potential. The fact he played at Ohio State is an added bonus.
New Bengals head coach Zac Taylor now has his defensive coordinator, Lou Anarumo, hired from the Giants, and middle linebacker will be one of Anarumo’s biggest needs.
Have the Bengals settled enough needs to open up the draft for more of a “best player available” type of strategy with their early picks? Might “best player available” be a quarterback? The next few weeks will tell us quite a bit about the long-term future of the Bengals under Zac Taylor.