The Bengals and the rest of the NFL stayed in the state of Mississippi on Friday after attending Mississippi State’s pro day on Wednesday to check out the pro day at Ole Miss.
While Ole Miss’ defense completely lost the swagger of past squads that possessed, the offensive side of the ball is where the discourse is centered around in this draft class for the
The wide receiver trio of D.K. Metcalf, A.J. Brown and DeMarkus Lodge will all be drafted, with Metcalf a lock for the first half of the first round after he ran a 4.33 40-yard dash at 6’3” and 228 pounds. Metcalf has some dominating tape for a redshirt sophomore, but production/durability questions likely take him out of the conversation for the top five. Still, an absolute freak of an athlete who’s just 21 years old, Metcalf won’t have to wait long until he hears his name called.
Brown, who’s own combine performance at 6’0” 226 pounds was impressive in his own right, produced at a much higher level than Metcalf but wins in different ways and has a lower perceived ceiling than his former teammate. Quincy Enunwa has been a prevalent comparison to Brown in terms of playing style, and teams may feel like they can wait on drafting a player of that caliber until the top of the second round.
Lodge acted as the third option in Ole Miss’ offense until a neck injury ended Metcalf’s season. The former five-star recruit took advantage of the opportunity but a middling combine performance likely caps his stock in the middle rounds.
If three receivers weren’t enough, tight end Dawson Knox also has a case to be a top-100 pick next month. Knox is an explosive athlete in the thick of an incredible class of tight ends. 39 career catches without a single touchdown is concerning, but teams are hoping the loaded offense he was a part of was the primary reason for this red flag.
Throwing the ball to all of these playmakers was quarterback Jordan Ta’amu, who projects as a day three pick. 2018 was Ta’amu’s first year starting and it showed at times. How else do you explain just 19 touchdowns in this stacked offense? The odds of Ta’amu becoming a long-term starter are slim, but some team will want him as a developmental project, which could fit the Bengals’ market.
Ta’amu had two draftable offensive lineman protecting him in left tackle Greg Little and interior lineman Javon Patterson. At one point, Little was considered a first-round talent, but a poor combine performance and inconsistent tape has dwindled that hype considerably. Patterson could be like his former teammate and current Bengals guard Rod Taylor and become a value pick late on day three. Both could be options for the Bengals at their respective ranges.