Draft season is in full swing with the NFL Combine looming large next weekend. The Draft is a beacon of hope for all 32 teams. Some of those teams are looking to reload, some are looking to rebuild, and a select few are in that awkward place somewhere between the two. The Cincinnati Bengals are stuck in that awkward place for now. Even with a new head coach, fans still aren’t sure if this team will be torn down or just added to.
With all of that in mind, it is also mock draft season. Mock drafts can be a prediction of who a team will end up taking or a personal opinion on who a person thinks they should pick. Predicting the NFL Draft is impossible so my mock drafts will lean more towards what I think the team SHOULD do. Of course I will also factor in team needs and what the team could actually end up doing. Think of the selections outside the first couple rounds as more of a way of highlighting certain positions that should be targeted in the Draft. Let’s draft.
Round 1 Pick 11: Devin White, LB, LSU
This may be the most common pick in every mock draft you will read this offseason. The hype is only growing on the uber-athletic linebacker. He is the perfect prospect for the Bengals if he falls this far. Cincinnati is in desperate need of athleticism across all three linebacker spots. White is a converted running back that is still learning the linebacker position. All of that athleticism is still being harnessed into a more cerebral linebacker but the improvements over the last two seasons are promising. He is exactly the type of player the Bengals could plug into the middle of their defense and not worry about for the next 5 years.
Round 2 Pick 42: Chris Lindstrom, G, Boston College
The offensive line must continue to be addressed in Cincinnati. The right side of the line is a disaster with guys like Alex Redmond and Bobby Hart manning the guard and tackle spots. If a player of Lindstrom’s caliber makes it to the Bengals second round pick, they should pounce. With head coach Zac Taylor likely bringing a more zone heavy blocking scheme to town, there will be a need for athletic linemen that can operate in space. Lindstrom is a good all around guard but really excels on reach blocks and walling blockers off on the move. He is very mobile in space and gets to the second level to eliminate linebackers quickly. Plug him in next to 2018 first round center Billy Price and let them grow together.
Round 3 Pick 73: Dawson Knox, TE, Ole Miss
Tight end is an issue right now in Cincinnati. The top three tight ends on the depth chart are set to be free agents and two of them are coming off injuries. Chances are the Bengals only keep one or two out of Tyler Eifert, Tyler Kroft, and C.J. Uzomah. Enter Dawson Knox. Grossly underutilized in college, Knox looks like an explosive option at tight end when given the chance. While he isn’t much of a blocker, he has the potential to be a dangerous downfield weapon for quarterback Andy Dalton.
Round 4 Pick 111: Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington
The team can’t be afraid to double dip into the offensive line class. Bobby Hart cannot be allowed to start another down for this team. This is probably a bit of reach but the offensive tackle class dipped off quite a bit after this selection. McGary is a big mauler at right tackle that needs some refinement and development. He has slow feet and struggles with speed but shows powerful hands that lock down defenders when he gets his hands on them.
Round 5 Pick 150: Jimmy Moreland, CB, James Madison
Nickel corner Darqueze Dennard may or may not be back next season and the Bengals love to draft for the future. They did draft cornerbacks Davonte Harris and Darius Philips last year but they have yet to show they will pan out. Moreland is a smaller corner with top notch quickness. He is a nice developmental piece that could earn some snaps in the slot early on.
Round 6 Pick 184: Kendall Joseph, LB, Clemson
Another position the Bengals shouldn’t be afraid to double dip on. They had one of the worst linebacking corps in all of football last season and just need talent at the position. Joseph isn’t the athlete that Devin White is, his processing skills are more developed. He plays well in coverage and would actually fit the “run and chase” weakside linebacker role next to White due to his smaller size.
Round 6 Pick 200(via Dallas): Bruce Anderson, RB, North Dakota State
With the recent news of 2018 rookie Mark Walton being arrested for both battery and marijuana possession, Cincinnati should look for another running back. This is both a depth and future pick in case the Bengals decide to let Giovani Bernard walk next offseason. Anderson is a good all around back that has showcased the receiving abilities that would fit in great behind starter Joe Mixon. He also has the skillset to stay on the field for all three downs if Mixon or Bernard were to suffer injuries again.
Round 6 Pick 212: Byron Cowart, DL, Maryland
Cincinnati should be looking for depth/future starters along their defense line. Andrew Billings hasn’t shown much at nose tackle up to this point and Geno Atkins is only getting older. Cowart may receive the dreaded tweener label as an athlete that just moves all over the defensive line. A former number one overall recruit, he is an elite athlete that needs to refine his game. He could come in and provide immediate depth at the least.
Round 6 Pick 213: Gary Jennings, WR, West Virginia
The Bengals have a strong group of wide receivers but there is room to add talent if it falls to them. Jennings isn’t a great athlete at the position but he has strong hands and knows how to get open vertically. He can come in and make a special teams impact right away.
Round 6 Pick 215: Foster Moreau, TE, LSU
This all depends on who the team retains in free agency. If more than one of their tight ends is allowed to walk, they could take another one in the draft. Moreau offers a big bodied redzone threat with some decent blocking ability
Round 7 Pick 225: Montre Hartage, CB, Northwestern
This pick is all about depth and special teams. Hartage is a player the team can stash on the practice squad or bring up to contribute in case of injuries. Not a great athlete but has flashed ball skills and physicality at the line of scrimmage.