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The Orange and Black Insider Bengals podcast: Interview with James Rapien and Final Mock Draft

Happy 2020 NFL Draft Eve! We continue our extensive coverage with an interview with James Rapien of Sports Illustrated and conduct our final mock draft.

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It’s here!

For the first time since 2003, the Cincinnati Bengals own the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. And, with it comes the distinct possibility that a new era of football is being ushered into The Queen City.

On this week’s OBI episode, we previewed the big event with James Rapien, who is newly-posted at Sports Illustrated. Our chat centers around the biggest needs and potential unfamiliar names who could end up in stripes.

We also took a look at his seven-round Bengals mock draft over at Aside from Joe Burrow being his No. 1 overall pick, James addressed offensive tackle early, and double-dipped at linebacker in his slate of picks.

Check out the link, or the beginning portion of our episode to see who the precise selections were in his final take. James joined us courtesy of New Era caps. Go get yourself some cool Bengals draft gear wherever their great products are sold!

We also conducted our final mock draft of the offseason. Using a combination of their coaching of the Senior Bowl, “visits” during this interesting time and looking at roster needs, we have conjured up a formula to bring a somewhat-clear picture.

John also shared his immense work he’s put together in a Google doc over the course of the past couple of months. One of the facets of it was his big board, complete with player round derivations, so we used this as a contributor to the picks we made.

Here are some things to note in our final crack at a Bengals mock draft:

  • We used FanSpeak’s Mock Draft simulator. It’s not a perfect replica of what happens in the actual draft, but it provides some very realistic scenarios.
  • There was a major run on wide receivers from the middle of the first round into the third round.
  • We felt that with a lower number of picks this year, positional versatility and players who could potentially line up in multiple places.
  • We executed two trades. The first was from pick No. 65 to No. 74 with the Cleveland Browns to pick up another pick at the end of the third round. The second occurred at the beginning of the fourth to get another another selection at the end of the round.

The Orange and Black Insider final 2020 mock draft

Round 1, pick No. 1: Joe Burrow, Quarterback, LSU

All indications say that this is a done deal. The only question left is if Burrow will pave a career worthy of a mustard jacket.

Round 2, Pick no. 33: Patrick Queen, Linebacker, LSU

In the simulation, Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray went in the first, leaving us a quandary of needing to decide between Queen, Zack Baun and wide receiver Michael Pittman, Jr. It was a little early for Pittman, but we recognized a run at the position. Georgia tackle Isaiah Wilson was also in the discussion.

In the end, the need for a quality linebacker was larger than that of wide receiver. Queen isn’t as big or athletic as Murray, but he plays with better instincts. He also did a number of things for the Tigers defense last year, notching three sacks and an interception along with his 85 total tackles.

Round 3, pick no. 74: Robert Hunt, Offensive Guard, Lousiana-Lafayette

We have the Bengals tapping the state of Louisiana heavily this year. Cincinnati doesn’t usually like to go after the small school prospects, but we have them diving deep into their scouting reports for the next two picks.

We moved back nine spots in a trade with the Browns in the simulation, as we felt the value wasn’t there. More targeted players went off the board, but we knew offensive line had to be addressed.

Hunt is a versatile player who could man the starting right guard spot early. His flaws are largely minor and he has great athleticism for his size.

Round 3, pick no. 97: Alex Highsmith, EDGE, UNC-Charlotte

In years past when the Bengals ran more traditional 4-3 or nickel base defensive sets, a guy like Highsmith wouldn’t likely be on their radar. But, with Lou Anarumo’s defense looking to diversify and find ways to get to the passer, Highsmith makes sense.

He brings immense athletic ability and scheme diversity. He had 14 sacks with the 49ers last year and could be a nice rotational pass-rusher for the Bengals right away. He’s also a great kid, as evidenced by our recent interview with him.

Round 4, pick no. 116: Davion Taylor, Linebacker, Colorado

Cincinnati needs linebacker help, even with the addition of Josh Bynes in free agency and the hypothetical selection of Queen. Taylor was one of the best available players on the board at the time of our selection.

As it was at the top of the third round, the value just didn’t seem to be there when we were on the clock at the beginning of the round. We moved back in another trade with Jacksonville and ended up collecting nine total picks for the class.

He’s quick, athletic and possesses massive upside. The problem? Taylor is inexperienced and may need time to develop.

Round 4, pick no. 137: Antonio Gibson, Running Back/Wide Receiver, Memphis

With the rounds and picks going by and the Bengals not getting a wide receiver yet, we felt the need to give Burrow more weapons. The tight end and receiver groups were depleted of talent matching the selection area, so we attempted to obtain versatility.

Like Taylor, Gibson’s sample size is small, but the upside is incredible. On 77 career touches from scrimmage, Gibson had 14 touchdowns (10 receiving, four rushing). He also added a touchdown on kickoff returns.

It’s going to take a creative mind to get him the ball, but that’s what Cincinnati hired Zac Taylor for last spring. Gibson isn’t a true “hands catcher”, but provides a multi-dimensional weapon for the team as Giovani Bernard winds down his career, contract uncertainty surrounds Joe Mixon and Rodney Anderson coming off of back-to-back years of blowing a knee ligament.

Round 5, pick no. 147: Thaddeus Moss, Tight End, LSU

Some people believe Moss’ name will be called before the conclusion of Night Two. However, the measurables and other things on film point to a Day Three talent.

The biggest upside here is in the rapport he has with Burrow—both on and off the field. He and the new franchise quarterback were best buds at LSU and made quite a few big plays down the stretch to secure the National Championship.

Cincinnati lost Tyler Eifert, and while Moss doesn’t have that type of athleticism, he could be an effective red zone target for the rookie signal-caller.

Round 6, pick no. 180: Reggie Robinson II, Cornerback, Tulsa

Cincinnati has amassed a lot of secondary help this offseason, but depth is always a good thing. When we went on the clock at this point, Robinson was pretty clearly the best player left on the board.

Robinson had three interceptions and 13 passes defended last season at Tulsa. He has good size at 6’1” and 205 pounds, and also ran a 4.44 unofficial 40-yard dash at the Combine.

Round 7, pick no. 215: Lawrence Cager, Wide Receiver, Georgia

This is much later than we wanted to address wide receiver, but as each round passed, the value just wasn’t there to be had. We also felt that the contributions of Gibson and Moss helped to quell the need for pass-catchers.

Cager was a guy in which the Bengals have showed interest. They FaceTimed with him recently, as they are clearly enamored with his size.

He’s 6’5” and 220 pounds, but the reason for his fall to the final round is because of a 2019 ankle injury. He had 33 catches and four touchdowns in just nine games last year with the Bulldogs.

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They also are selling masks in a nonprofit and charitable endeavor (you buy one, they donate one), so if you’re in need of those during this time, order yours now! Use the promo code “Burrow” and get 10% off your order.

And, be sure to keep it to our channel for great draft coverage! We’ll be there to break down each pick as they happen and give an immediate reaction following each night/day of the draft, while Matt Minich will take the air at the conclusion of the first two nights to rundown the best available prospects left on the board.

In the past eight days, we’ve cranked out 17 episodes on the podcast channel. Whether it’s a star-studded interview lineup, or breakdowns of players in this year’s class, we hope you’ve enjoyed all of our content.

Music on the audio episode is from Bleed the Sky and the track played is “Membrane” off of their album, This Way Lies Madness. They appear on the show courtesy of Art is War Records.

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