Trading down is almost an annual tradition for the Cincinnati Bengals. They’ve made a habit out of moving back in the draft order—typically in the second round—in order to acquire more late-round selections.
Now that they’re slated to pick at the end of the second round, a trade out of the first round might be the way they go in order to get the best return package.
That’s precisely what Mel Kiper Jr. has them doing in his latest 2-round mock draft. In this scenario, Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum makes it all the way to pick 31, and instead of the Bengals staying put and selecting him, Kiper has the New York Jets trading up with them and taking Linderbaum.
The Bengals received a fourth-round pick as they moved back four spots. With the 35th overall pick, they chose Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam.
Cornerback is the position the Bengals should target if they keep the No. 31 pick, and they should be thrilled with Elam here. He locked down receivers for the Gators and then ran a 4.39 40 at the combine. He could be a Day 1 starter for Cincinnati.
Kiper’s logic states that the Bengals should be focusing on drafting a cornerback with their first pick, and netting an extra fourth-rounder while getting Elam is worth passing on Linderbaum since they already signed Ted Karras to be their center.
How about a third first-round selection from the Jets? In this scenario, with a glaring hole at center and the top guy still on the board, they deal No. 35 and a Day 3 pick to get back into Round 1. And crucially, they keep their pick at No. 38, which allows them to get more help.
The Bengals would move down just four spots and pick up an extra fourth-rounder. They signed center Ted Karras in free agency among other moves to upgrade their O-line, so their need isn’t as big.
Cornerback is undoubtedly a huge need for Cincinnati, and they do enjoy trading back for extra picks, but Linderbaum could also be a player they deem too good to pass on. He’d fit like a glove in the Bengals’ system at center, and Karras could simply move over to left guard, where he played last season with the New England Patriots.
Elam’s fit is also self-explanatory. He’d immediately compete with Eli Apple and potentially beat out the veteran to start at cornerback opposite of Chidobe Awuzie in Lou Anaurmo’s defense. He seems to be a fringe first-round prospect, so getting him in the second round looks to be good value.
Later in the second round, Kiper made the Bengals the first team to grab a tight end. UCLA’s Greg Dulcich became Cincinnati’s selection with the 63rd pick due to his similarity to C.J. Uzomah.
Dulcich averaged 17.3 yards per catch last season, lining up mostly next to offensive tackles. He ran some routes out of the slot, but if the Bengals want to replace C.J. Uzomah with a similar tight end, that’s Dulcich.
Dulcich is arguably the best receiving tight end in this class, and his athleticism on tape matches how he tested at the Scouting Combine (4.69 40-yard dash, 7.05 3-cone). With Hayden Hurst and Drew Sample under contract for just this season, Dulcich would be an ideal long-term option at the position.
What do you think of Kiper’s mock? Would you stay put and take Linderbaum, or take the Jets’ offer and move down for Elam? Let us know in the comments!