clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Mel Kiper has Devin White and Devin Bush in top 10 of latest big board

What happens if both Devins are off the board when the Bengals pick?

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 NFL Draft class has been defensive heavy at the top from the moment it was finalized in mid-January. As we inch closer and closer to April 25th, it’s become clear as to which names will populate the initial picks of the first round, and front seven defenders look like they will dominate first third of the round.

For the Bengals, who still have notable needs at linebacker and on the defensive line, this puts them in an interesting situation. Cincinnati’s biggest needs align with where the draft has the strongest talent, but will they watch as that talent gets plucked right before their eyes, or will the right player fall into their laps?

It’s looking like that player will not be linebacker Devin White, who appears to be a lock for the top 10 picks — if not the top five. In Mel Kiper’s latest top 25 big board, White is locked in as his fourth best prospect.

4. Devin White, LB, LSU*

Height: 6-foot | Weight: 237 | Previously: 4

White is one of my favorite prospects in this class, and I noted in our draft primer in December that he’s a perfect fit for today’s NFL. During a spectacular breakout 2017 season, he had 133 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and an interception. White was great last season, too, with 123 tackles, including 12 for loss. I love his read-and-react ability. He is not a true pass-rusher, but he could play outside or inside linebacker at the next level. He has some versatility and is gifted athletically, running a 4.42 40 at the combine.

Sure, fine. White is likely out of the discussion for the Bengals’ pick at 11th overall. It would take a Laremy Tunsil event to see him fall beyond the first handful of picks. Joining White in Kiper’s top five are defensive end Nick Bosa, defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, edge rusher Josh Allen and quarterback Dwayne Haskins.

Outside the top five, things get a little less clear. With White presumably off the board, two names have surfaced as ideal fits for the Bengals in defensive tackle Ed Oliver and linebacker Devin Bush. As it happens, both players find themselves ranked just inside the top 10 after previously being ranked lower.

8. Ed Oliver, DT, Houston*

Height: 6-foot-2 | Weight: 287 | Previously: 12

Oliver didn’t develop consistent pass-rush moves in his three years at Houston, and that’s why I have always said the comparison to Aaron Donald is unfair. But he is a really good player and a game-wrecker -- just play the East Carolina game tape, in which he had five tackles for loss. Oliver’s first step is one of the fastest I’ve seen from a defensive tackle. There’s a big range on where he might end up, as I’ve heard anywhere from No. 4 to Oakland to No. 14 or 15.

9. Devin Bush, LB, Michigan*

Height: 5-foot-11 | Weight: 234 | Previously: 20

Bush is a big riser after the combine, where he tested well and ran a blazing 4.43 40. He caught my eye as a sophomore when he had 102 tackles, including 9.5 for loss, and an interception. He had 79 tackles and five sacks in 2018. He is a playmaker. He lines up all over the field and is always around the ball. I scouted his dad, Devin Bush Sr., a first-round pick out of Florida State in 1995 who had a 41-inch vertical.

The NFL combine is mainly responsible for Oliver solidifying himself as a top-10 player and for Bush seemingly ascending up everyone’s boards. Bush specifically exceeded expectations at Indianapolis, while Oliver essentially confirmed his freakish athleticism.

Oliver may validate this ranking and end up going right before the Bengals’ pick, but Bush doing so still seems more unlikely than not. Regardless, Kiper is still well connected around the league and his board usually reflects where he’s hearing players are being ranked.

Quarterback Kyler Murray, tight end T.J. Hockenson and defensive end Montez Sweat round out Kiper’s top 10, and the odds of all 10 of these players being the first 10 picked when draft night ensues are slim. The draft is crazy and unpredictable, but the Bengals are typically the opposite the closer the draft gets.

Oliver and Bush figure to be top targets for the team that had the 32nd ranked defense from 2018, and landing either would go a long way into improving that ranking in 2019.