We’re just nine days away from the 2019 NFL Draft.
With a new regime in charge, the Bengals have a great chance to bolster their roster with a pair of top-50 selections, and NFL.com has named their ideal top two picks for all 32 teams.
This projection goes in sort of a mock draft format, as guys like Devin White (4th to Raiders) and Ed Olver (9th to Bills) aren’t available at No. 11. So in essence, this is a proclamation of who would be the best fit for the Bengals based on who’s still on the board at No. 11 and 42.
Even so, Cincinnati still ends up with a potential franchise-shifting prospect in Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Dwayne Haskins, followed by Kansas State Wildcats offensive lineman Dalton Risner.
The Bengals have stuck with Andy Dalton through thick and thin, but Haskins presents them with a chance to hit re-set at QB1 (likely in 2020). Risner is a hard-nosed guard/tackle prospect with strong hands and high football character.
By now, you know all about Haskins, as he’s been frequently mocked to Cincinnati leading up the draft, even though many around Cincinnati believe there’s no chance a quarterback is taken at No. 11. There’s plenty of arguments for not taking one, such as there will be a deeper and better crop of quarterbacks in the next two drafts.
But the Bengals want to win ASAP, and their roster is still good enough to prevent them from selecting in the top 10 in each of the next two drafts, so if they want to find a new franchise quarterback, Haskins may be their best chance at one for a long time.
As for Risner, he’s one of the best linemen in this draft, but concern over his position has him sliding to the end of Round 1 or even into Round 2. He played right tackle as good as anyone in college football this past season, where he’s been a starter for the past three seasons.
All told, this would be a great two-man haul for the Bengals with their first two picks.
Among all draftable offensive tackle prospects, Risner ranked No. 1 in Pro Football Focus pass blocking efficiency and run blocking grade. But there’s concern his average length and athletic ability will prevent him from playing tackle at a high level in the pros.
Some believe he’ll become a guard in the NFL, and he actually started at center as a redshirt freshman. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein compares him to Bears lineman Cody Whitehair, one of the league’s best guards.
The Bengals actually love versatile lineman, which would probably make Risner a very attractive option in Round 2. After all, left guard Clint Boling has just one year left on his deal, the jury is still out on center Billy Price, and even if Risner struggles at tackle, he’d still very likely be an upgrade over right tackle Bobby Hart.