NFL

NFL Draft Primer: Cincinnati Bengals

on

Team needs: Wide receiver, Offensive tackle, Linebacker, Nose tackle and Tight end.

Bengals’ selections:

Round 1 – 21st overall

Round 2 – 53rd overall

Round 3 – 85th overall

Round 4 – 120th overall

Round 4 – 135th overall

Round 5 – 157th overall

Round 6 – 197th overall

Round 7 – 238th overall

Good fits early:

Dorial Green-Beckham: Yes, the Cincinnati Bengals have one of the best receivers in the world, in A.J. Green, but outside of him, the Bengals receiving corps doesn’t really strike fear in opponents. If the Cincinnati wants to make a splash in the first round, selecting wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham with the 21st overall pick would do just that.

Green-Beckham was the top overall prospect out of high school in 2012. He commited to Mizzou, where he caught 59 passes for 883 yards with 12 touchdowns in 2013, after a disappointing freshman campaign.

The talented receiver comes with a lot of baggage. Green-Beckham had plenty of run-ins with the law in Columbia, which resulted in him being dismissed from the program. He transferred to Oklahoma, but elected to ultimately enter the NFL Draft before playing a single down in Norman.

With the right guidance and leadership around him, just maybe Green-Beckham can turn his life around off the field.

Randy Gregory: If not for his positive drug test at the combine to go with failed tests for marijuana while at Nebraska, Randy Gregory would be much higher on mock drafts. However, this may be a blessing in disguise for the Bengals.

Cincinnati’s run defense ranked 20th last season, allowing 4.2 yards per carry. With Gregory’s toughness and ability to close running lanes, he’s a guy that could contribute right away. After just two seasons at Nebraska, Gregory ranks ninth on the school’s all-time sack list with 17.5 sacks. Gregory was named second-team All-American in 2014.

Jake Fisher: This is a very deep draft when it comes to offensive linemen. With Andrew Whitworth at the age of 34, the Bengals need to start looking at his potential replacement.

Former Oregon Duck Jake Fisher could be a viable option in the second round. He’s listed at 6-foot-6, 306 pounds, but he’s a good athlete with speed and mobility. After an injury, Fisher was forced to move to left tackle, where he excelled in protecting Heisman winner Marcus Mariota.

The Bengals are in a unique position because they’re looking to take that next step, but at the same time they have to acknowledge the long run. While safety appears to be one of their lesser needs, you must realize that both starting safeties, George Iloka and Reggie Nelson are set to become free agents in 2016.

Therefore, selecting Alabama’s Landon Collins in the first round could be an option. He led the Crimson Tide with 103 tackles, three picks and 10 passes defended this past season.

Potential late-round targets:

James O’Shaughnessy: Jermaine Gresham is still on the free agent market, as he’s recovering from a herniated disk in his back. With the uncertainty of his future in Cincy, it’ll be wise for the Bengals to look at tight end in the draft.

James O’Shaughnessy is an interesting prospect. The 6-foot-4, 245 pound tight end brings athleticism with a good set of hands. He ran an impressive 4.68 40-yard dash at the combine.

With his speed, O’Shaughnessy has the ability to free himself down the seam, but he’s also strong enough to fight for jump balls.

Ellis McCarthy: This guy was a five-star recruit out of high school. When he committed to UCLA, expectations went immediately through the roof.

However, McCarthy fell way short of those lofty expectations. He began to gain weight, which was proabably a reason why he needed surgery on both knees including one for a torn meniscus.

With that being said., McCarthy is a guy that could demand a double team at the next level. He improved his hand usage and showed flashes of being able to collapse the pocket as a bull rusher.

On the third day, McCarthy could be a steal.

Josh Robinson: On the third day of the NFL Draft, you can’t go wrong with adding some depth to your running back corps. While Cincinnati is set with Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard, its always safe to prepare for the worst.

Robinson had a breakout season with the Mississippi State Bulldogs in 2014. He rushed for 1,203 yards on 6.3 yards per carry with 11 touchdowns. He also caught 28 passes for 370 yards, so he’s a guy that could be used in the slot at times as well.

The Cincinnati Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since 1990. Yes, that was 25 years ago. This draft probably won’t help them win a game in January, but it definitely couldn’t hurt if they draft efficiently.

However, at the end of the day, Andy Dalton must perform better in the postseason.


About Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels is an NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has several years of experience covering the NFL and NCAA football. He's the radio color commentator for Lincoln University football. Mark's work has been featured on Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and Yard Barker.