Around T-minus two months from the NFL Draft, one begins to notice a trend of names associated with teams at certain positions. For the Cincinnati Bengals, addressing the secondary has been en vogue in past two or three years--sometimes they have done so, including in 2012 with the selection of Dre Kirkpatrick. Other times, the Cincinnati has offered surprises like the pass-catching tight end, Tyler Eifert.
The 2014 offseason has been no different. Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier and a variety of different cornerbacks have been mocked to the Bengals in the first round. The latter position seems make a lot of sense, given the collective age and health of the position group. The linebacker spot does as well with the departure of James Harrison, but there is an interesting debate at safety.
George Iloka emerged as a solid player last year, earning a top-five spot on the NFL's pay-per-play list, and Reggie Nelson has been a breath of fresh air as well in the back part of the defense. Still, many believe that Marvin Lewis is still looking for that rangy, centerfield-type of safety and Rob Rang of CBS Sports believes it to be Louisville's Calvin Pryor.
Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville: Re-signing veteran Taylor Mays means that safety isn't an obvious concern for the Bengals but Pryor likely would prove an upgrade. Boasting the explosive closing ability in run support that makes Mays intriguing, Pryor is also fluid and instinctive in coverage. His leadership could help pull together a secondary blessed with talent but not consistency.
Rang goes the extra mile and provides a list of second round choices as well. In a selection that may considered a reach by some and a great pick by others, Rang points at a quarterback for Cincinnati in the second round.
Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia: The Bengals would like someone to push Andy Dalton and may be unwilling to gamble that Murray will slip to the third round.
Murray is quickly becoming a favorite mock pick to the Bengals because of his Georgia lineage and perceived ability to be "pro-ready". There are some eerie similarities to current starter Andy Dalton with size and arm questions, but Murray was extremely productive in the uber-competitive SEC. For the record, I mocked Murray to the Bengals in a pre-Combine mock draft in the fourth round.