The winter and spring months of the NFL offseason seem to go in stages. The first part is the completion of early scouting games, including the NFLPA Bowl, the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl.
From there, we jump to the Combine, free agency and Pro Days. And then, of course, is the big event at the end of April.
We at the Orange and Black Insider had yet to submit a mock draft, for a variety of reasons, but with the first stage of the offseason in the rearview mirror, we felt it was time. Of course, we had to work within certain limits, but below is the class and how we came to our conclusions for version one.
What we think we know and the confines in which we operated:
- The Bengals will reportedly listen to offers for the No. 1 overall pick, but the consensus opinion is that they will stick at the spot.
- Dave Lapham recently said he believes the Bengals will use at least one Night Two pick on defense—maybe even as early as the second round. Given his track record in predicting early picks for Cincinnati in recent years, he is deemed as a reliable source.
- In the recent interview Sheeran had with Duke Tobin, the de facto G.M. said the team will prioritize best player available over positional need.
- The Bengals’ coaching staff is extremely involved in the scouting process, due to the size of Cincinnati’s scouting department. Because of this, the staff will take heavy stock in their first-hand experience in coaching at the Senior Bowl.
- The team is likely to have a different amount of picks than seven, but those and trading up/down in the draft was not taken into account here.
- Cincinnati has sent out signals that they like the state of the offensive line more than most of the pundits.
- Cincinnati has shown a preference for “big school guys”, namely those from the SEC.
- We used The Draft Network’s simulator to give us as realistic of a picture possible of available players atop each round.
- John and I narrowed down possibilities for each pick and then mutually agreed upon a selection.
Round 1, pick No. 1: Joe Burrow, quarterback, LSU
We’ve gone over everything Burrow in recent days and months, so we’ll just leave this passing chart to digest, if further reasoning is actually needed here.
joe burrow's passing chart vs. the 5 toughest defenses he faced in 2019.— john sheeran (@John__Sheeran) January 29, 2020
- read the fine print at the top
- none of these numbers are really surprising
- his completion% on throws beyond 20 yards almost matched andy dalton's total completion% in 2019
- the bengals have this data pic.twitter.com/SCqWenvlbm
Round 2, pick No. 33: Terrell Lewis, EDGE, Alabama
Some folks may be screaming for a tackle, but getting after the quarterback and creating turnovers has to be a 2020 priority. Sam Hubbard has proven to be a nice contributor off of the edge, as has Carl Lawson, but you can’t have enough quality pass-rushers.
Cincinnati’s staff became familiar with Lewis in Mobile last week and even gave him reps at the outside linebacker (SAM) spot. He’d be a project there, but they may feel they can kill two birds with one stone here.
Lewis had six sacks and 11 tackles for loss in 10 games last year. He has great size at 6’5” and 252, but the lack of a big resume and the question of Crimson Tide players performing well without the All-Star Nick Saban cast surrounding them linger.
I love quality pass rushes that impact the game and affect the passer - yet will be no where in the stat sheet— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) October 27, 2019
Terrell Lewis was a beast tonight. #2020NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/aRt7HXgVup
Round 3, pick No. 65: Malik Harrison, linebacker, Ohio State
Cincinnati has loved to use second and third-round picks on the linebacker position. It has come with mixed results, but Harrison could provide youth and further steadiness alongside Germaine Pratt.
Harrison had an interception in the Senior Bowl, as the Bengals had a front row seat to his performances throughout the week. Harrison had 74 total tackles, including 16.5 for loss in 2019, along with two fumble recoveries. He also brings ideal size for the spot at 6’3” and 240 pounds.
Round 4, pick No. 97: Ben Bartch, offensive lineman, St. John
Bartch brings athleticism and potential versatility to the offensive line. He needs some grooming and his body could use a little filling out, but Bartch is becoming a fast-riser in this class.
Tobin gushed about his Senior Bowl week, as the small school guy held up against top defensive talent. The way TDN’s draft board fell provided a conundrum, however.
Trey Adams, the Washington Huskies tackle, was also available. He is one of those “could have been a first-rounder, if...” guys, as medical issues have muddied his stock. It’s very possible the Bengals go with the bigger school and maybe higher-upside guy, but with the team experiencing so many early-career injuries to important picks, Bartch won the day.
Bartch stands at 6’6” and 308 pounds and could provide an upgrade at right tackle, or be an immediate swing guy, as the team figures out the situations with Bobby Hart and Cordy Glenn.
D-III vs. SEC. Here is @SJUFootball OL Ben Bartch’s first 1-on-1 rep of the @seniorbowl against @AlabamaFTBL EDGE Terrell Lewis, a potential first-round pick. Bartch moved up multiple rounds in Mobile last week. The stage wasn’t too big for Bartch. #TheDraftStartsInMOBILE pic.twitter.com/qqhX27T6ph— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) January 28, 2020
Round 5, pick No. 129: Troy Pride, Jr., cornerback, Notre Dame
Cincinnati has some big decisions to make in the secondary. Dre Kirkpatrick may be on the trade block, Darqueze Dennard is entering free agency, while William Jackson is in the final year of his rookie deal.
Pride is an interesting player who may be a real diamond in the rough. Pride only notched four career interceptions with the Irish, but has a nose for the ball and a little willingness to tackle, though not always successful.
Given some of the noted deficiencies for the next level, he could be a slot replacement for Dennard, or, more ideally, B.W. Webb.
Round 6, pick No. 160: Michael Pittman, Jr., wide receiver, USC
The only conceivable way Pittman is available here is due to the deep wide receiver class, as well as runs on offensive and defensive linemen. Pittman helped his stock a bit in Mobile, but really has a chance to turn heads with a good 40-yard dash time at the Combine.
In terms of size, Pittman bears resemblance to Auden Tate, as the former Trojan stands at 6’4” and 220 pounds. He may not have the catch radius of Tate, but he has more wheels than the Bengals’ current big-guy receiver.
Pittman put up gaudy numbers in 2019, even though USC had quarterback issues (their top-two signal-callers were out for significant periods with injuries). He finished the season with 101 catches, 1,275 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Pittman’s ceiling is as a productive No. 2 for a team and he fills a need for a position group with a lot of questions heading into 2019.
Round 7, pick No. 192: Calvin Throckmorton, offensive lineman, Oregon
While not the most talented lineman in this year’s class, Throckmorton is a throwback guy who Jim Turner loves. Recently, the team gushed about his performances in the Senior Bowl, so don’t be surprised if he lands with the Bengals in some capacity.
He’s a tackle by trade, but the staff felt he could have been asked to play anywhere along the line. Throckmorton was a part of one of the best offensive lines in college football last year.
He’d be a depth/swing guy initially, but could provide a push at guard spots, if the team feels his versatility can translate. And, by most scouts’ reports, it seems as if a kick inside would prolong his NFL career to mask some deficiencies.
We’ll do a few more of these after the scouting combine and free agency, but this was our first go-round.
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