The 2012 NFL scouting combine has all but concluded, which means the 2012 NFL draft is right around the corner. The Cincinnati Bengals were no doubt paying close attention to the happenings at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis in preparation for what is potentially the most critical draft in franchise history.
The Bengals enter the draft with a variety of needs, even if some are addressed via free agency. In my previous mock, the team addressed many problem areas with high-value picks. These projections have of course changed thanks to the scouting combine.
The combine was an opportunity for the Bengals’ scouts to see their targets up close and personal, as well as introduce them to some unknown names now on their radar. The combine performances (or lack thereof) have likely altered the Bengals' plans as the draft looms closer.
With that in mind, here’s a fresh, full seven round mock draft for the Cincinnati Bengals based on the performances at the 2012 NFL combine.
Trent Richardson fell to the Bengals in my last mock, and that doesn’t change here. In fact, he did nothing to prove he won’t.
Richardson didn’t participate in any combine drills because he had knee surgery. It wasn’t a serious operation by any means, but not being able to see a player in action may deter some team’s desire to take Richardson.
Despite his missing the combine, Richardson is still the best running back in the draft, probably the best to enter the NFL since Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson. However, running backs have been consistently falling, as the running back position continues to be devalued.
The Bengals land the best running back in the draft by being patient, just like they did last year with quarterback Andy Dalton. Cedric Benson is gone, and Richardson steps into the starting role to create one of the most intriguing offenses in the league.
Previous Selection: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
Janoris Jenkins would be the first cornerback off the board when the draft starts if he could have stayed out of trouble in college. He did a lot to attempt to repair his image during combine interviews, which could ensure he is still a first round pick.
Guard is a good option as well at this spot, but cornerback is a more pressing need. The Bengals can fill the guard spot in free agency and attempt to bring back Bobbie Williams. Nate Clements and Leon Hall are the only notable corners under contract with the Bengals, and adding Jenkins gives them a quality starting trio.
Jenkins hit a 4.4 40-yard dash as expected at the combine. Jenkins is great in coverage and has amazing ball skills. He is aggressive in the run game as well, which is at times hard to find from the position anymore. While a risky pick because of his off the field issues, veterans like Clements, Hall and Chris Crocker should be able to mentor Jenkins and keep him out of trouble.
Previous Selection: Mark Barron, S, Alabama
The Bengals have a serious need at the guard position with only Otis Hudson and Clint Boling currently under contract. The team thinks they have something in Boling, who could potentially start next year, but look for them to find players in free agency and the draft as well.
Kevin Zeitler is a great pick at this spot, and he could come in and start immediately. The Bengals met with Zeitler at the combine this past week, which shows he has been on the team's radar for some time.
Zeitler is a force in the run game and was impressive during his time with Wisconsin. According to NFL Draft Report, he led college football with 142 knockdown blocks last season, which was a major reason Wisconsin averaged 237 yards per game on the ground.
At the combine, Zeitler put up 32 reps on the bench press, second only to Stanford's David DeCastro. His performance, work ethic and body of work make him a no-brainer for a team like the Bengals looking for a franchise guard.
The Bengals have a huge need at the number two receiver position with Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell becoming free agents. Jordan Shipley is returning from a serious injury and Andre Hawkins is a situational guy at best.
Enter Brian Quick, the premier wide receiver from the NCAA's FCS level. In 2011 alone, Quick caught 71 passes for 1,096 yards and 11 touchdowns. The 6'4", 220 pound receiver is efficient in running a variety of routes and could find great success lining up across from A.J. Green.
The knock on Quick is of course the fact he didn't play against the best competition at the collegiate level. However, at the combine he competed against the best. Quick ran a 4.5 40-yard dash and had a 34 inch vertical.
Quick's resume and physical traits mean he would be a perfect fit in Jay Gruden's West Coast offense. The Bengals have a penchant for drafting small school guys (Jerome Simpson, Bernard Scott) and Quick will fill a massive void on the Bengals' roster. Andy Dalton won't complain about having another 6'4" target next season, that's for sure.
Previous Selection: Amini Silatolu, G, Midwestern State
Winston Guy has been a difficult prospect to read in terms of where he will land come draft day. He possesses all of the potential in the world, which makes him a great value pick here for the Bengals.
Guy racked up 120 tackles, 1.5 sacks and one forced fumble in 2011. He was the standout on an otherwise horrific Kentucky defense, which is part of the reason he doesn't get as much attention as other notable safeties in the draft, like Alabama's Mark Barron. He hit a 4.65 in the 40-yard dash at the combine.
Guy won't be able to play the free safety position at the professional level, and the Bengals won't need him to if they can bring Reggie Nelson back. Guy will compete with Taylor Mays and Robert Sands for the starting strong safety spot.
Guy is a player that won't likely see playing time outside of special teams in 2012, but a great overall value at this spot.
Previous Selection: Jake Bequette, DE, Arkansas
Josh Chapman is projected as a fifth rounder, instead of much higher, because he is currently recovering from a torn ACL. Chapman suffered the injury October 1st against the Florida Gators.
One would think Chapman had surgery and sat out the rest of the season, right?
Chapman finished the season as the anchor of an Alabama defense that only allowed 110 rushing yards per game. He sat out one game—and the defense gave up 302 rushing yards.
Chapman is a massive tackle that specializes in stopping the run. The Bengals need depth at the position with Pat Sims potentially hitting free agency. A full season with Nick Hayden as the third tackle behind Domata Peko and Geno Atkins just won't be enough.
Chapman didn't participate in the combine because he was recovering from surgery. He is a great pick at this point in the draft because he instantly provides great depth, while potentially having the talent to eventually be a starter.
Previous Selection: Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa
No change here from the last go-round. Emmanuel Acho is an extremely underrated prospect that fits in perfectly as an outside linebacker in a 4-3. His speed and intelligence are hard to find this late in the draft, so he's a steal.
Acho ran a 4.6 40-yard dash at the combine, a number not very indicative of his game speed. Acho had a knack at the collegiate level to cover tight ends, running backs and even slot receivers with ease.
Obviously covering slot receivers is unlikely at the next level, but his athleticism should allow him to do whatever Mike Zimmer's scheme asks of him.
The Bengals need depth at linebacker with Manny Lawson and Brandon Johnson hitting free agency. Keith Rivers is an unknown at this point, and Rey Maualuga is once again in trouble with the law.
Acho is a breath of fresh air for the unit. He'll easily contribute on special teams right away and potentially play himself into a rotation.
Previous Selection: Emmanuel Acho, OLB, Texas
Donte Paige-Moss is taking a huge gamble by entering the draft this year. Before the 2011 season, he was, at times, projected to be a top-15 pick. He had an underwhelming 2011 campaign before tearing his ACL in late December.
Moss won't participate in any offseason activities before the draft thanks to ACL surgery. There are also concerns about his me-first attitude that was on display via Twitter during the game in which he tore his ACL.
Despite the obvious red flags, it's hard to pass on someone as gifted as Moss at this point. A sixth-round pick is typically a boom or bust type player these days, and Moss has all the potential to fit nicely into the Bengals' pass rushing rotation. Worst case scenario? The veterans in the locker room have little impact on his horrible attitude and he bows out of the NFL disgracefully.
Low risk, high reward is the name of the game in the late rounds.
Previous Selection: Garth Gerhart, C, Arizona State
Devon Wylie is a great value this late in the draft. He won't impress with his size, standing at 5'9" and 180 pounds. He will impress with his speed—Wylie put up an impressive 4.39 40-yard dash at the combine, and he put up a ridiculous 39 inch vertical.
Wylie looks to be a solid slot receiver and number four receiver in the NFL. He also has a lot of value as a punt returner, a spot the Bengals could use a jump-start at. The depth Wylie provides is also a nice insurance policy if an injury occurs to the starters.
This late in the draft teams are looking for depth with the potential to be surprises a few years down the road. It doesn't hurt that Wylie is a carbon-copy of New England's Wes Welker. Not a bad gamble for Cincinnati in the seventh round.
Previous Selection: Nicholas Jean-Baptiste, DT, Baylor