The NFL Draft has been very good to the Bengals over the past few seasons. Once a team marred with picks who were over-hyped and didn’t live up to their potential, now has found the right formula to drafting high quality players who contribute immediately. The likes of A.J. Green, Andy Dalton, Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, and most recently Kevin Zeitler have the Bengals primed to make the playoffs for a third consecutive year, which the team has never done before. The Bengals have used the draft to build a team that compete year in and year out, something division rivals (Baltimore and Pittsburgh) have done for years. The Bengals hold the 21st pick in this years draft, and they will have plenty of options at that pick. They also hold two second round picks that will provide two quality players who will have a chance to contribute from day one. So, here is my round by round projection for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Round 1 Pick 21 – Alec Ogletree LB, Georgia
Linebacker is a position of need in Cincinnati, and unless they sign a free agent such as James Harrison or Karlos Dansby the Bengals won’t be able to pass on Ogletree. The former safety has the speed and athleticism that the Bengals covet at weakside linebacker. Ogletree’s speed and coverage ability is exactly what the Bengals need as he will be too good to pass up.
Round 2 Pick 5 (37th Overall) – Matt Elam S, Florida
This will be pure luck if the Bengals can land Elam with their first pick in the second round. Safety is maybe even a bigger need than linebacker, but patience pays off as the Bengals land a playmaker in the defensive secondary.
Round 2 Pick 21 (53rd Overall) – Johnathan Franklin RB, UCLA
It’s no secret that the Bengals want a change of pace back. Franklin would be a great compliment to Benjarvis Green-Ellis, by being the home run threat that the Bengals seemingly never have. This is a great value pick at 53 and a huge get for the Bengals offense.
Round 3 Pick 22 (84th Overall) – Da’Rick Rogers WR, Tenn Tech
Off-field issues and taking plays off keeps Rogers from maybe being a first-rounder. He surely has the talent, and the Bengals love a good project. Especially, if that project could potentially take pressure off of A.J. Green and give Andy Dalton another deep ball threat.
Round 4 Pick 21 (118th Overall) – Tyrann Mathieu CB, LSU
More off-field issues no problem for the Bengals. Mathieu could help immediately in the return game, and would be given a shot to prove himself as a slot defender. His size is a question mark, but their is no doubt that the “Honey Badger” has the talent to excel at the next level.
Round 5 Pick 23 (156th Overall) – Marcus Lattimore RB, South Carolina
This pick is purely for fun. Lattimore is going to be intriguing to most teams, and the Bengals missing piece may just be a dominant running back. If Lattimore can shake off his past injuries and return to form, he could be the steal of the draft. Imagine what A.J. Green could do when there is eight in the box trying to stop Lattimore.
Round 6 Pick 22 (190th Overall) – Reid Fragel OT, Ohio State
Fragel has one year under his belt as an offense lineman. The former tight end made the transition as a senior at Ohio State, and he became their most improved player. He has the size and athleticism that NFL teams like, and he would be a great fit in Cincinnati, as their right tackle spot has a big question mark.
Round 6 Pick 29 (197th Overall) – Akeem Spence DT, Illinois
Round 7 Pick 34 (240th Overall) – Ray-Ray Armstrong S, Miami (FL)
Round 7 Pick 45 (251st Overall) – Josh Dworaczyk OG, LSU