Cincinnati Bengals Mock Draft: Top 5 Targets for the 1st Round

Clay DefayetteCorrespondent IIIApril 1, 2012

Cincinnati Bengals Mock Draft: Top 5 Targets for the 1st Round

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    Cincinnati Bengals fans have former Oakland Raiders coach Hue Jackson to thank for the 17th overall pick on top of the franchise's own selection just four spots later in the 2012 NFL Draft. Mike Brown gains great leverage to mortgage one of the picks for more selections if the team chooses to take that route.

    With that noted, most fans wouldn't support moving one of the first-round picks unless it is done for a pick that is still in the first round and gains the Bengals at least a third-round selection.

    There are obviously superior prospects than these five players listed, but realistic scenarios are being presented. 

5. Whitney Mercilus, DE (Illinois)

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    Cincinnati has done a fine job as far as finding quality pass-rushers to rotate in and out of snaps in the past few drafts, including Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson.

    However, it wouldn't hurt to add from a position of strength.

    Melvin Ingram isn't falling past the Seattle Seahawks who are picking 12th, and there are legitimate questions of whether or not Alabama's Courtney Upshaw has a true position. 

    USC's Nick Perry is a decent player, but he's not as much of a pure pass-rusher as Mercilus. Andre Branch should be the fall-back option for the Bengals if Mercilus isn't on the board when the team uses its 21st pick.

4. Dontari Poe, DT (Memphis)

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    Cincinnati does possess several decent pass-rushers from the exterior of the defensive line, but the Bengals could add an athletic specimen who comes at 6'3" and 346 pounds. 

    Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox is a good alternative if the Bengals opt for more of an interior pass-rusher. If management feels Dontari Poe can be productive in a 4-3, Cincinnati should take the superior run-stopper.

    Some believe Poe is being regarded too highly, but he ate up double-teams for Memphis, a university with not much talent, in his playing days at the school.

    Unless Cincinnati is planning on trading up, there is no way Mike Brown lands the best defensive tackle prospect, Michael Brockers.

3. Michael Floyd, WR (Notre Dame)

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    The negatives with Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd are his three alcohol-related incidents, and Bengals fans should be wary of the team's recent history with issues like this.

    However, Floyd showed that he's faster than many thought when he cashed in a sub-4.5 40-yard dash at the combine. He's been rising on draft boards and is now widely considered the best receiver not named Justin Blackmon.

    Floyd's physical style would be a nice offset to A.J. Green's fluid game. Taking Green fourth overall in 2011 worked well for Cincinnati, so the team could opt for the same position this time around.

    There should be no chance that the Bengals select Baylor's Kendall Wright with either one of the team's first-round picks, especially with his lack of size. Cincinnati's 2010 first-rounder, Jermaine Gresham, can work the middle of the field just fine, as Wright is projected in the slot.

2. Stephon Gilmore, CB (South Carolina)

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    Cincinnati's secondary had its fair share of issues in 2011, but safety Reggie Nelson had his best year as a pro. Another lock-down corner to place alongside Leon Hall would be ideal after losing Johnathan Joseph to Houston the previous offseason.

    South Carolina's Stephon Gilmore is a complete player who compares favorably to Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick, and Gilmore ran a much faster 40 time than was expected. 

    If Mike Brown elects to be more risky, Janoris Jenkins is an intriguing talent. His on-field drills at the combine in Indianapolis were impressive as the former Florida Gator showed fluid hips and a good, stable backpedal.

1. David DeCastro, OG (Stanford)

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    Picking up hard-nosed running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis is an honest replacement for the inconsistent Cedric Benson, and the Bengals should choose to provide help to whomever is in the backfield.

    Haloti Ngata and Phil Taylor look to be long stays in Baltimore and Cleveland, so Cincinnati shouldn't seek to counter their division rivals' studs. 

    Bobbie Williams at the right guard spot would give David DeCastro someone to look for advice from. DeCastro is unique because there's not another interior offensive lineman who's anywhere close to having Top 20 talent unless Cincinnati views Georgia's Cordy Glenn as an inside player rather than a tackle. It may mean that he won't be available when Cincinnati is on the clock for the team's 17th overall pick.