When NFL Draft time rolls around every year, I usually only put out two editions of my mocks--one pretty early in the process, and another as the big weekend closely approaches. While the former uses more of my personal preferences and players at positions of perceived need, I shift the focus of the latter to have more of a Bengals-centric lens. Based on rumors, workouts and other rumblings, I intermingle my own wish list with what I think the team will do, based on a variety of factors.
This mock draft has that focus and while it's difficult to predict seven rounds, I'm going to go for it. Again, this is a blend of what I think the Bengals will do, coupled with some of my specific choices based on positional need and what I think other teams will do in front of them, so bear that in mind.
2016 NFL Draft Profiles
Profiling some of the best and most intriguing players in the 2016 NFL Draft from wide receivers like Josh Doctson and Laquon Treadwell to defensive tackles like A'Shawn Robinson and Antwaun Woods and kickers like Roberto Aguayo and Ross Martin.
Round 1, Pick No. 24: Michael Thomas, Wide Receiver, Ohio State:
Here's the thing: I don't think the Bengals will get the chance to select one of the "big three" at wide receiver (Laquon Treadwell, Corey Coleman and Josh Doctson), so if they're going to take what I feel is their biggest position of need, wide receiver, it very well could come down to Thomas or Notre Dame's Will Fuller. Obviously, the Bengals will be doing what they feel is necessary to replace the departed Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu.
This week, rumors have been flying about Fuller being the choice, but another report had Thomas as the top player at the position on the Bengals' board. Look, both Fuller and Thomas are projects, but I'm more prone to go for a 6'3", 210-pound physical specimen with NFL lineage, with a potential second round tag and a Demaryius Thomas ceiling, over a leaner, smaller, albeit speedier one-trick pony in Fuller. Obviously, if one of the other aforementioned three are available, I think the Bengals go that way, but I just don't see them being there at No. 24. Ideally, if the choice came down to Fuller or Thomas, the Bengals would move back, grab another pick and take one of these two.
Round 2, Pick No. 55: Shilique Calhoun, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, Michigan State:
Is defensive end a major need on the surface for the Bengals? Probably not. However, what both teams who faced off in Super Bowl 50 taught us was that having a stable of pass rushers at a team's disposal is always a need. Calhoun is a different mold than that of Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson, but he looks the part of another productive NFL defensive lineman. He has similar height and length of both (stands at 6'4"), and while he doesn't have the bulk and strength of both Cincinnati defensive end mainstays, he brings speed and shiftiness to complement the group. In four years at Michigan State, Calhoun amassed an impressive 27 sacks and 44 tackles for loss as a Spartan.
Round 3, Pick No. 87: Javon Hargrave, Defensive Tackle, South Carolina State:
Hargrave is known as being far more athletic than his body build shows, while having frequent flashes of explosiveness in college. Unfortunately, the former SCSU Bulldog had spurts of inconsistency as well, making him fall down to the middle rounds of a 2016 NFL Draft class, which is very deep at the position. Domata Peko is in the final chapter of his career, and the Bengals are probably going to start looking for a replacement starter for the years ahead.
I feel that because of the re-signings of Brandon Thompson and Pat Sims, the depth of this year's defensive tackle class, as well as the team's success in drafting defensive tackles in the third and fourth rounds in the Marvin Lewis era all play into the team holding off until late in day two for big interior defensive lineman. Hargrave could be the next good, versatile producer on a solid Cincinnati defensive line, especially with the team's surrounding talent.
Round 4, Pick No. 122: Max Tuerk, Offensive Line, University of Southern California:
Is he a center? Offensive Guard? Tackle? In a word, yes. Tuerk played four positions on the line for the Trojans, and all of them at a high level. Most pundits believe Tuerk would have been a top-50 pick in this year's draft had he not suffered a knee injury, while the versatility plays both positively and negatively in his scouting report with clubs. Tuerk very well could go far before the fourth round, but he could also begin to slip behind players who are definitively ready to contribute at the onset of the season because of health. While Tuerk's rehab is going well, he still might be PUP Listed on a deep team like the Bengals, but has long-term potential to be an NFL starter on an interior of a team's offensive line. Read his draft profile here.
Round 5, Pick No. 161: Dominique Alexander, Linebacker, Oklahoma:
While the Bengals have a plethora of linebacker options already on the 2016 roster, including when Vontaze Burfict returns after his three-game suspension, the inside linebackers projected to be on the final roster are mostly flex players in Vincent Rey, Karlos Dansby and Burfict in certain packages, with Rey Maualuga being the specific lone middle backer. A.J. Hawk has also been released, so it could open up a spot in the position group, even with a pick like Calhoun.
Oddly enough, Alexander has the build of a middle linebacker, but is more of a finesse, pass-defending player in the middle, while not exuding so much of the 4-3 traditional middle linebacker thumper traits. This skill set could also allow him to have some developmental flexibility to also play outside, which displays the versatility the Bengals love in many of their positions.
Round 6, Pick No. 199, James Bradberry, Cornerback/Safety, Samford:
Bradberry was a high school corner who was recruited to Arkansas State, but was asked to transition to safety. After declining, Bradberry transferred to Samford to stay on the outside of the defense. He's known as being very physical and a press guy, but he's also the heaviest cornerback in the draft at 211 pounds. He'll need a lot of coaching to transition to safety, but he could be an immediate contributor to help in the slot and against tight ends in the Bengals' defense.
Round 7, Pick No. 245: Jaydon Mickens, Wide Receiver, Washington:
The biggest position of need for the Bengals in 2016 is wide receiver, and while I have them grabbing Thomas and they currently have James Wright, Mario Alford and Jake Kumerow waiting in the wings, they still have two productive players to replace in Jones and Sanu. Mickens, though not as talented, has a skill set a bit more akin to Notre Dame's Fuller, especially with a little bit of kick/punt return experience under his belt.
Mickens might have been a more highly-touted prospect if quarterback issues didn't plague the Huskies in his tenure at the university. If developed properly, Mickens could be one of the bigger sleepers in this draft. On the other hand, he could go the ways of Freddie Brown, Glenn Holt and other Bengals who faded after brief stints with the club.