Unless someone injects antibodies to combat my condition known as, totally uncreative catch-phrases, it appears that we're going to call today, Mock Draft Sunday. As we've pointed out in the past, the idea of mock drafts, at least for our purposes, isn't about predicting the future. It's about learning who these prospects are, outside perspective about the team's needs and gathering information about likely projections within Cincinnati's zone (who are the likely selections around the time that the Bengals pick, likelihood that Cincinnati needs those players).
We're pretty confident that Cincinnati will address cornerback or offensive tackle in the first round. We're also knowledgeable enough to say that free agency could disrupt those projections at a moment's notice. If Anthony Collins re-signs, then those offensive tackle projections are nothing more than a crumbled piece of paper just outside the reach of the waste basket on the floor. If he doesn't.... well, factor Hue Jackson's obsession to transform Cincinnati's offense into old school physical football.
DraftTek.com does, selecting Tennessee offensive tackle Antonio Richardson at No. 24 with their mock draft.
It looks more and more like Whitworth is going to make a full transition to LG. It's a good move for him and the Bengals. Collins is an UFA and might carry a hefty price tag. Instead of overpaying for Collins and reaching for the next-best CB, they can get their LT of the future. Hugh Jackson declared that Cincy will run the ball better and protect the QB more next season. This pick is a tremendous start. Richardson is a mammoth and surprisingly athletic for being so big. He is a patient blocker with long arms and tree-trunk legs. He has the ability to dominate on the blind side. He needs to clean up his technique and leverage, but adding another bulldozer to an already solid O-Line will improve their chances of repeating another AFC North title.
Richardson is ranked anywhere from fifth (Mocking the Draft), to eighth (ESPN) among all offensive tackle prospects this year. Viewed as a dominant run blocker with reasonable pass blocking skills that could use more seasoning, Richardson could be a stretch as a first-round prospect. And at this point, we know that Cincinnati won't reach for someone, electing best-player-available philosophies (provided it addresses a position of relative need).
Mel Kiper Jr. mocked Richardson at No. 27 for the New Orleans Saints and Pete Prisco (CBSSports.com) used him at No. 32 for the Seattle Seahawks.