The NFL Draft is finally upon us, and that means one final day of waiting.
Besides the agony of waiting for a bye week to pass, this might be the worst day to wait for. But, it’s finally here, and we can get to see who was right and who was wrong…well, more like who guessed right and who guessed wrong.
You can study your favorite team all you want, and you might have a pretty good idea of who they will get, but you obviously don’t know for certain. That’s the fun part of this night, the uncertainty, the angst. Will you be happy with that choice? Upset? Is this player a game-changer? A franchise-changer?
I’ve read every analyst’s mock draft for the last two months, day-in and day-out. I’ve done my own mock drafts, trying not to be biased or try something new each time. The more you do it, the more difficult it gets.
We’ve all agreed the Cincinnati Bengals will most likely go BPA (best player available) throughout the draft, and each mock brings a new possibility that wasn't possible last time.
In the beginning, I was dead set on the Bengals going offensive tackle in the first round and tight end in the second, but will there be a good enough tackle left by pick No. 28?
Is a tight end worth a first-round selection?
Will they come out of nowhere and grab one of the two top backs in the first?
Or will they go defense taking a defensive back or lineman?
Will Cincinnati do the unthinkable and actually trade up in Round 1?
It will depend on who’s left. That’s the best part about it, the curiosity and patience.
Here’s my final mock draft:
Round 1: Cody Mauch, OT, NDSU
This fiery-haired glass-eater would fit in perfectly in the trenches of our frontline. This will help boost the depth of the Bengals, line on top of the free agency signings of Orlando Brown Jr. and Cody Ford. He’s not one of your big names from one of your elite schools, but the Bengals making a splash going with the unknown. He posted in the top five of his combine scores, and NFL Analyst Lance Zierlein compared him to none other than Alex Cappa.
Round 2: Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa
The Bengals lost two of their top tight ends in free agency the last two seasons. They re-signed Sample and signed Irv Smith Jr. from the Minnesota Vikings, but only on a one-year deal for both. This will help solidify their tight end needs for the long term.
Round 3: Isaiah McGuire, EDGE, Missouri
The Bengals snag McGuire in the third. He ranked in the top three of all defensive ends at the combine, and he could be a huge helping factor on the d-line. Cincinnati ranked in the bottom five of all teams for sacks last season. He provides an edge to Lou’s defense alongside Hubbard and Hendrickson.
Round 4: Jaylon Jones, CB, Texas A&M
They go with CB in the fourth round to add some depth. There’s a lot of talk about Cincy going CB in the first round, but I don’t think that is as much of a necessity as other positions, but adding depth would help. They were hurting a bit last year, especially with Chidobe Awuzie having a season-ending injury, and we’re still not sure if they will resign Eli Apple or not. This may be the deciding factor.
Round 5: Jerrod Clark, DI, Coastal Carolina
The Bengals add some young depth to the defensive line to go alongside B.J. Hill and DJ Reader, and snag Clark. He is fast off the ball incredibly fast for his size, and hits with force. High chance as a disruptor at a lighter weight.
Round 6: Rashad Torrence II, S, Florida
They lost two of their best safeties in free agency, but they signed Nick Scott from the Rams, so drafting Torrence out of Florida will help out their secondary incredibly.
Round 7: Aubrey Miller Jr., LB, Jackson State
After we have covered all of main areas of concern, why not add some depth to the linebacker staff? Miller is instinctive off the ball, can quickly get off blockers, and is solid against the run.
Those are my picks. Things can definitely change, round by round or even pick by pick.