Draft night is 10 days away. Who Dey Nation is going to have to wait a little longer than we thought after the trade for Cordy Glenn, but it opens up the possibilities of who could be walking across the stage wearing the “Who Dey” Draft hat.
QB: Lamar Jackson, Louisville. No I don’t think he is an actual option, but he would be my pick if he was there. I love Lamar. I think he is going to be a superstar and would be the most excited person in the world if he ended up in the stripes. However, there are a few reasons it won’t happen. One, he won’t be there. I don’t see Jackson making it into the 20s. The Dolphins, Bills, Cardinals, Ravens, and Chargers all pick in the 11-20 range with possible need at the most important position. One of these teams seems the most likely. Two, Andy Dalton is the guy, and I do love Andy. His contract is essentially year to year, so they could play it like the Chiefs did last year, It is not going to happen, but he would be my pick.
RB/WR/TE: Not going to happen.
OT: Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame/Conor Williams, Texas/Kolton Miller, UCLA. It seems as if McGlinchey is the top rated tackle and if he is there, I believe the Bengals need to take him. He doesn’t make you super excited, but really, what offensive lineman does. The more and more the process moves along, the more I see Williams being a NFL guard and I’ll discuss my problems on that below. Miller is the rising talent of the class, and some see him pushing McGlinchey as the top option.
OG: Will Hernandez, UTEP/Isaiah Wynn, Georgia. Don’t get me wrong, I really like both Hernandez and Wynn. Hernandez has a nasty to him and can really help the run game, while Wynn is solid all-around, and comes from Georgia. And us Bengals fans know we like those Bulldogs. But, I will be the most disappointed if they use their top pick on a guard. No matter who it is (except Quentin Nelson, duh). Back in 2012, Kevin Zeitler was picked in the back half of the first round. He was a really good player for 5 years. And understandably so, the Bengals did not resign him last offseason. He was given the biggest contract in NFL history for a guard. I want a guy that the Bengals will invest in. I am not saying they should have paid Zeitler. But if five years from now, there first round pick is one of the best at their position, I would like for the front office to extend the contract. This won’t happen if that guy is Hernandez or Wynn. Secondly, guard is the least of the worries of the three spots. Right tackle and center are bigger problems in my opinion.
OC: James Daniels, Iowa. Some will add Billy Price here, but I don’t see the Bengals picking someone who has the possibility of not being available for the offseason work (tore his pec at the combine). Daniels is only 20, and the top center in the draft. Much like Hernandez above, he has a nastiness to him that will improve the run game from day one. After suffering through four years of Russell Bodine’s mediocrity, this would be a bif time change. If the Bengals feel like they can pick Price or Frank Ragnow in round two, they may refrain from selecting Daniels.
DL: Vita Vea, Washington/Marcus Davenport, UTSA/Harold Landry, BC. The biggest weakness along the defensive line is the run stuffing tackle to play along side Geno in the middle. They have Andrew Billings and Ryan Glasgow on the roster, each who have been drafted in the fourth round over the last two seasons, but the jury is still out on whether or not they can be a consistent factor. Vea is a freak and would be an ideal fit. I just don’t imagine him being available at 21. If the club doesn’t see being able to resign Dunlap after next year, the edge rusher to pair with Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson could be on the table. Marcus Davenport is the unknown riser on the defensive side in this draft, while Landry’s stock have dropped after a subpar season.
LB: Rashaan Evans, Alabama/Leighton Vander Esch, Boise St. There is no doubt that linebacker is a big need on this team. Even with Burfict out there, they still suffer on passing downs. Preston Brown will fill the Kevin Minter role in base packages, but is Nick Vigil a viable every down backer? Last year, he wasn’t. Injuries may have something to do with that, but he may just be average. I believe they need to draft to replace Burfict, with his unreliability showing its ugly face once again with the four game suspension. Evans is the name from Alabama, but Vander Esch is a much better fit. He’s big and athletic, and can develop into a three-down guy.
DB: Jaire Alexander, Louisville/Josh Jackson, Iowa/Justin Reid, Stanford. Surely, they won’t take another corner in the first round, right? They have taken one in 2012, 2014 and 2016, so it is time again! William Jackson is a budding superstar, and Dennard excelled when he was able to stay in the slot. Although Kirkpatrick got the big contract, he is the weak link. It wouldn’t shock me if they took Jaire Alexander to groom him to play on the outside with Jackson. With that being said, Safety is the bigger weakness. New defensive coordinator Teryl Austin likes to play three safeties at times and the team has been active trying to find one in free agency. Eric Reid seemed like a logical fit, but we all know how that went. His younger brother, Justin, is the most likely guy at the position to take at the Bengals spot. Will they do that, though?
The prediction: When it is all said and done, I think they are able to tackle their biggest need, the offensive line. It is my hope that McGlinchey is there, but I think James Daniels will be. And the Bengals plug in the 20-year old to be the starter from day one.