Our own Patrick Judis, Matt Minich, and John Sheeran tackle the Bengals needs in their final 2019 NFL Draft mock drafts. Read all three and tell us what you think in the poll at the end.
I constructed this draft by doing roughly eight mocks using The Draft Network’s predictive board (four I picked and four automatic picked) in my best attempt to try to predict a little but of the wackiness of the actual draft but avoid any fluke drops.
First Round pick (11th overall): Devin Bush Jr., LB, Michigan
The Bengals have created a situation where they have to end up with an impact starter at linebacker from this draft. I get people not being excited because Bush isn’t going to be the most talented guy on the board. However, he should be a huge part of turning around a defense that was just terrible last season.
Second Round pick (42nd overall): Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama
This pick really depends on who falls. If Dalton Risner is there he should easily be the pick for the Bengals. Irv Smith Jr. is a great consolation prize as he is a very talented as a receiver and blocker at the tight end position. He gives the Bengals the flexibility to move on from Tyler Eifert next offseason whether he stays healthy enough to earn a huge contract or has another unfortunate injury.
Third Round pick (72nd overall): Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia
Yodny Cajuste is a very talented offensive tackle. He recently had a quad injury that he had surgery for, which could lead to a fall in the draft. He has a few technique things to fix up, but he could easily being a starter at right tackle. He also has played mostly at left tackle during his college career. That means he could be an eventual replacement for Cordy Glenn. Would be just as happy taking him in the second round to be honest.
Fourth Round pick (110th overall): Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma St.
After the Bengals royally screwed up by drafting Mark Walton last year instead of keeping Tra Carson and Brian Hill, they now have to find a running back to provide depth as well as flexibility pending what the team decides to do with Giovani Bernard. Justice Hill is that shifty kind of runner who is great in space. He’d be a great compliment to Joe Mixon down the road.
Fifth Round pick (149th overall): Mike Edwards, S, Kentucky
Edwards could be the Bengals third safety in a defense that is becoming more and more popular. He is a great tackler in the box. He played plenty of spots at Kentucky, which gives him insane versatility. As long as Cincinnati doesn’t ask him to play the center of the field, Edwards should have a productive career. (The Bengals should consider trading some of their sixth-round picks to move up if necessary for this guy).
Sixth Round pick (183rd overall): Cortez Broughton, DT, Cincinnati
Broughton is undersized (where have we heard that before), but he has showed a real knack at being an effective pass rusher. The Bengals need a guy to be able to rotate inside to provide some pass rush next to Geno Atkins, and Broughton could end up being that guy.
Sixth Round pick (198th overall): Ty Summers, LB, TCU
The theme of the rest of the draft is getting developmental guys at positions of need. Ty Summers didn’t stick out during his career, but he appears to be a solid guy, and he has the ability to play in coverage sparingly. His ticket onto the roster is his knack for getting to the ball consistently though.
Sixth Round pick (210th overall): Wyatt Ray, EDGE, Boston College
Wyatt Ray is physically very talented, but he has seemed to try and coast off of that his entire career. If you get guys like Carlos Dunlap and Carl Lawson in his ear to help develop some actual pass rush moves he could end up being a valuable rotational player down the road.
Sixth Round pick (211th overall): Oli Udoh, OT, Elon
A small school prospect that has all the ability of an NFL offensive tackle, but it will take some really polishing for him to reach that level.
Sixth Round pick (213rd overall): Diontae Johnson, WR, Toledo
The Bengals will likely want to hedge their bets with John Ross a little earlier than this, but Diontae Johnson will have to do. He is a shifty receiver who is great after the catch and is useful as a returner. There are obvious holes in his game, though. These include his speed and consistency catching and is why he falls to Cincinnati late in the draft.
Seventh Round pick (223rd overall): Benny Snell, RB, Kentucky
Benny Snell is a bruiser the Bengals could bring in like the Rams did last season with C.J. Anderson. He isn’t going to ever be a starter or carry a team, but he could develop into a rotational player.
This is a predictive mock draft that is based on my evaluation of players and how they may fit in to what I think the Bengals draft strategy may be.
First Round pick (11th overall): Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
My instincts tell me that the Bengals are hell bound on drafting a linebacker at 11 and that as long as one of the top two are there, that will be the pick. LSU linebacker Devin White would be the first options, but he is heavily linked to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Bush would give them the Bengals a much needed athletic upgrade at the position and would be a day 1 starter. Although the value would be better if they traded back a few slots, drafting Bush is a win.
Second Round pick (42nd overall): Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
I expect the Bengals to take an offensive tackle at some point on Day 2. Not a starter, but a swing tackle to develop to eventually replace Bobby Hart (although not as quickly as you’d like). Little was a name that was tossed around as one of the top guys in the class early, but when his film didn’t match his hype people fell way to far off of him. He is an excellent pick for the Bengals who will travel at a snail’s pace to get him into the lineup. Little can get off balance at times in the run game, put as a pass blocker he seems to to have an intrinsic ability to get in people’s way. He has a smooth and fast kick step and makes life difficult on edge rushers.
Third Round pick (72nd overall): Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida
Edge rusher is not an obvious need for the Bengals, but they held private workouts for several of the top pass rushers including Josh Allen, Rashan Gary, Montez Sweat, and also Polite. While Polite may be one of the more controversial players in the draft, that has never stopped the Bengals before. There are questions about his maturity and character, but I am in no position to make judgements on those factors. What I can do is watch his film. On tape he has demonstrated an excellent ability to get after the quarterback and is great against the run as well. Polite could be a steal for the Bengals in this position.
Fourth Round pick (110th overall): Will Grier, QB, West Virginia
Okay, I am being a little greedy here. Grier is one of the most exciting quarterbacks in the draft. This is the time that I could see the Bengals taking a quarterback. Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, Daniel Jones, and Drew Lock will all be long gone (probably on Thursday), but it is hard to say which quarterbacks will make it to Day 3. Grier, Tyree Jackson, Jarrett Stidham, and Brett Rypien all have potential to be 2nd or 3rd Round picks if any of them make it to the 4th Round they could be in play for the Bengals. Grier is a talented passer who throws a good deep ball, but is much more accurate underneath. He also has an excellent ability to create with his feet.
Fifth Round pick (149th overall): Foster Moreau, TE, LSU
Moreau is an excellent run blocker who will fill the void that Tyler Kroft’s exit has left in the Bengals tight end group. Although his use in the pass game was limited, he has the athletic profile to be a factor as a receiver as well. As a skilled blocker, Moreau is a good fit for what the Bengals need and would compliment Tyler Eifert and C.J. Uzomah well.
Sixth Round pick (183rd overall): Germaine Pratt, LB, NC State
The Bengals really need to draft two linebackers. Germaine Pratt should not make it to this point in the draft, but he does not seem to be getting the love he deserves. At 6-3 245 pounds he has the prototypical size that NFL teams desire from their linebackers. On top of that he is an excellent athlete. He started his career as a safety and has only played linebacker for two seasons which shows in his ability to make reads. He also struggles to get off blocks at times, but at this point in the draft his upside outweighs any criticism,
Sixth Round pick (198th overall): Mike Weber, RB, Ohio State
Don’t think of this as an RB3 as much as an RB2b. If Mixon goes down, the Bengals will need another back to compliment Giovani Bernard and Hill could fit this bill. Weber fits that mold well. Like Bernard, he is a threat in the run game as well as the pass game. He has good vision, quick feet, and at 215 pounds he packs a punch in short yardage situations. Weber would be an excellent fit for the Bengals.
Sixth Round pick (210th overall): Hjalte Froholdt, OG, Arkansas
Many Bengals fans were hoping for Frank Ragnow in last year’s draft, but this Arkansas product comes at a much smaller price tag. Froholdt does not have Ragnow’s intensity or knack for coming off of double teams at the exact right moment, but he is a people mover in the run game and an excellent pass blocker. The Bengals may not look to draft a guard with the amount of players they currently have a position but with as many picks as the have Froholdt’s value may be too hard to pass up.
Sixth Round pick (211th overall): Anthony Johnson, WR, Buffalo
The Bengals will look to improve their depth at wide receiver on Day 3. You have to see Johnson play to appreciate him. He is one of those guys who is big, but not big enough to make him a top prospect and whose speed is just okay, but for whatever reason he just manages to put it together on the field. He is an excellent route runner with soft hands and an intrinsic ability to go up and get the ball. He would challenge for the WR4 spot with the Bengals.
Sixth Round pick (213rd overall): Ethan Greenidge, OT, Villanova
The Bengals are down a lot of bodies at the offensive tackle position, so doubling down with a mid and late round pick would make a lot of sense. Greenidge is an FCS prospect who would have to adjust to the level of play, but has some major upside. He is 6-5 325 and moves pretty well. He has a good kick step and the length to succeed as a pass blocker. Greenidge may be best in the run game, where he shows great strength and gets movement.
Seventh Round pick (223rd overall): Chris Johnson, S, North Alabama
Nobody is talking about this guy. True, he is from a relatively small program at North Alabama, but he has performed very well there. Johnson demonstrated great range playing the deep middle-field zone and at 6-3 220 he may be able to match up with tight ends and big slots in man coverage. He is a big projection, but could give the Bengals defense a dimension they don’t have.
This was a scenario that is not a prediction of what will happen, but more so what I would do.
First Round pick (11th overall): Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State
(21.01 years old)
- Solo Tackle Market Share: 77.02 percentile (Pro Bowl potential)
- Tackle For Loss Market Share: 92.19 percentile (All-Pro potential)
- Sack Market Share: 90.6 percentile (All-Pro potential)
- Speed Score: 90.04 (All-Pro potential)
- Explosion Score: 71.87 (All-Pro potential)
- Flexibility Score: 80.55 (All-Pro potential)
Burns does not appear to be a first round option for the Bengals and I believe that to be a mistake. Only a few other edge rushers in this class can boast about having produced like a future Pro Bowl player while also testing like one at the NFL combine. When we look back at this draft class, Burns is one of the players that should’ve gone earlier than he did. The Bengals need one more edge rusher to make the position a true strength and Burns can give them 500 quality snaps immediately.
Second Round pick (42nd overall): Khalen Saunders, NT, Western Illinois
(22.71 years old)
- Solo Tackle Market Share: 96.45 percentile (All-Pro potential)
- Tackle For Loss Market Share: 84.55 percentile (All-Pro potential)
- Sack Market Share: 76.52 percentile (All-Pro potential)
- Speed Score: 98.19 (All-Pro potential)
- Explosion Score: 93.32 (All-Pro potential)
- Flexibility Score: 97.5 (All-Pro potential)
If you’re going to succeed in the NFL coming from a small school, you have to have elite production and be an elite athlete. Luckily, Saunders proved that production was legit after dominating at the Senior Bowl and then displayed his rare athleticism at the combine. He’s a nose tackle but can provide a pass rush from the A-gap. Ride with Geno Atkins, Ryan Glasgow/Andrew Brown, Andrew Billings and Saunders in 2019 as your interior defensive lineman.
Third Round pick (72nd overall): Ben Burr-Kirven, LB, Washington
(21.63 years old)
- Solo Tackle Market Share: 98.05 percentile (All-Pro potential)
- Speed Score: 86.99 (All-Pro potential)
- Explosion Score: 62.33 (Fringe Pro Bowl potential)
- Flexibility Score: 95.69 (All-Pro potential)
Finally, a linebacker. Yes, he’s only 6-0 230. Yes, he played slightly under that weight in college. Yes, he’s white. These things don’t matter, Burr-Kirven is a top five linebacker in this class and old school bias is going to make him available to be drafted later than he should be. There’s no reason why he can’t start immediately at WILL linebacker for the Bengals.
Fourth Round pick (110th overall): Max Scharping, OT, Northern Illinois
(22.71 years old)
- Speed Score: N/A
- Explosion Score: 82.34 (All-Pro potential)
- Flexibility Score: N/A
The lack of a complete athletic profile is worrisome for Scharping but his tape is not. Two small school prospects probably doesn’t excite anyone else besides myself but Scharping could’ve easily survived at a more prominent program. His pass sets are amongst the cleanest in this entire class and he comes into the NFL with experience at both right and left tackle, along with a pinch of guard. He should be a top-100 pick but may last a little longer than that. This is the depth the Bengals need at tackle.
Fifth Round pick (149th overall): Drew Sample, TE, Washington
(23.02 years old)
- Passing Yardage Market Share: 31.55 percentile (Pro Bowl potential)
- Speed Score: 70.96 (Starter potential)
- Explosion Score: 57.24 (All-Pro potential)
- Flexibility Score: 71.73 (All-Pro potential)
A high quality outcome is not tremendously likely for Sample and that’s why he’s available here in the fifth round. At the Senior Bowl, Sample stood out more as a run blocker than a pass catcher and his time at Washington showed the same. Sample can provide needed long-term depth at the tight end position and step in as a better blocker than Tyler Kroft ever was.
Sixth Round pick (183rd overall): Jordan Ta’amu, QB, Ole Miss
(21.37 years old)
- Best Season Production: 77.64 (Pro Bowl potential)
- Career Production: 77.64 (Pro Bowl potential)
Just a one-year starter, Ta’amu put together a decent year under center leading an Ole Miss offense that will see four of his best pass catchers drafted, probably all before him. Originally a junior college transfer, Ta’amu could’ve used more experience at the FBS level to improve his standing with the NFL, but his upside coming into the professional level is amongst the highest in this class. He’s worth a late-round flyer.
Sixth Round pick (198th overall): Devine Ozigbo, RB, Nebraska
(22.55 years old)
- Offensive Market Share: 51.91 (Pro Bowl potential)
- Speed Score: 75.72 (All-Pro/Pro Bowl potential)
- Explosion Score: 89.52 (All-Pro/Pro Bowl potential)
- Flexibility Score: 83.04 (All-Pro/Pro Bowl potential)
A surprise combine snub, Ozigbo proved why he belonged with the best in his class at Nebraska’s pro day, testing with truly elite numbers at 5-11 222 pounds. In his final year, Ozigbo only received 33 more touches than the year before but managed to put up 669 more total yards and nine more touchdowns. He’s got the athleticism and is still relatively fresh (just 468 career touches). The Bengals need one running back from this class, Ozigbo is one of the more underrated ones.
Sixth Round pick (210th overall): Dre Greenlaw, LB, Arkansas
(21.92 years old)
- Solo Tackle Market Share: 78.95 percentile (Pro Bowl potential)
- Speed Score: 57.35 (Starter potential)
- Explosion Score: 57.95 (Starter potential)
- Flexibility Score: 40.54 (Starter potential)
Middling athleticism is why Greenlaw will find himself available on the third day of the draft, but his production and age make him an interesting case to potentially become a long-term starter. Greenlaw was a very reliable tackler against SEC competition and managed to put together a productive 2017 before injuries took him out of commission for a few games last season. The Bengals need depth behind Preston Brown and Greenlaw can provide that.
Sixth Round pick (211th overall): KeeSean Johnson, WR, Fresno State
(22.55 years old)
- Passing Yardage Market Share: 83.58 (All-Pro potential)
- Speed Score: 28.47 (All-Pro/Pro Bowl potential)
- Explosion Score: 15.27 (All-Pro/Pro Bowl potential)
- Flexibility Score: 23.51 (All-Pro/Pro Bowl potential)
Production is Johnson’s saving grace. In an offense with 3,740 passing yards, Johnson hauled in 1,340 of them in 2018. His combine was very underwhelming, but improved on some key numbers at his pro day (improved his 40 time from 4.6 to 4.53, 3-cone from 7.28 to 6.81), likely giving him one above average athleticism trait, which every high quality receiver has had in the last 20 years. Wide receiver is a sneaky need for the Bengals and Johnson can push Cody Core and maybe even Josh Malone off the roster.
Sixth Round pick (213th overall): Javon Patterson, IOL, Ole Miss
(21.8 years old)
- Speed Score: 83.51 (All-Pro potential)
- Explosion Score: 44.08 (All-Pro/Pro Bowl potential)
- Flexibility Score: 74.54 (All-Pro potential)
Last year the Bengals took Ole Miss OL Rod Taylor in the seventh round of the draft. Patterson played with Taylor and is a similar player. His athleticism, age and positional versatility along the interior make him an intriguing prospect who should probably be drafted before this spot. The Bengals have no long-term depth at the guard position, Patterson can be that.
Seventh Round pick (223 overall): Lukas Denis, SAF, Boston College
(22.04 years old)
- Solo Tackle Market Share: 68.26 percentile (Starter potential)
- Interception Market Share: 93.15 percentile (All-Pro potential)
- Pass Deflection Market Share: 87.41 percentile (Pro Bowl potential)
- Speed Score: 14 (Below Starter potential)
- Explosion Score: 12.03 (Below Starter potential)
- Flexibility Score: 53.83 (Starter potential)
No safety with Denis’ athletic profile has ever become a long-term starter, but his production and age give him at the very least some upside to his name. The Bengals have 11 picks, it’d make sense if all position groups where covered. Denis probably won’t make the roster, but he can compete for a spot on the practice squad.
(All data provided by Jim Cobern’s 2019 NFL Draft Guide)
So what do you think?
Whose mock draft would you prefer?
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