Cincinnati Bengals Mock Draft: Updated 7-Round Projections After Senior Bowl
The Cincinnati Bengals concluded the 2012 season by reaching the playoffs for the second straight year in over three decades. This is a very young team containing a plethora of talent and looks to continue to build around its young stars.
There are several holes that the Bengals would currently like to address in the upcoming draft, however, they should be sticking to their recent best-player-available strategy which has yielded great success.
Certain positions will be looked upon by the Bengals early in the draft as they look to fill large voids at linebacker, safety, running back and defensive end. Some draftees will be instant starters, others will be developmental players as the Bengals look to add depth.
Without further ado, let's take a look at how the Bengals may fare in the 2013 draft.
Round 1, Pick 21: LB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
The Bengals linebacker corps should be going through a major overhaul during the offseason. Experienced linebackers Rey Maualuga, Thomas Howard, Manny Lawson and Dan Skuta are all free agents in 2013.
This leaves the Bengals with only Vontaze Burfict as a potential starter for the upcoming season. Look for the Bengals to go heavily in the linebacker department in both free agency and the draft to sure up this positional unit.
Alec Ogletree could come in and make an immediate impact at the linebacker position for the Bengals. He did have some off-the-field issues in college, but is nowhere near the risk of Burfict.
Ogletree played only nine games in 2012 due to suspension, but finished with 98 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and an interception.
This SEC product was also a former safety and can be a force in coverage. Ogletree would certainly be an every down player for Cincinnati and could bolster the linebacker corps for years to come.
Round 2, Pick 37: SS Matt Elam, Florida
Matt Elam is simply a no-brainer here for Cincinnati if he is available at the 37th overall selection.
The largest weakness in the Bengals sixth-ranked defense in 2012 was at the safety position. Reggie Nelson currently resides at free safety and has played well above average. Strong safety is a different story.
The Bengals tried starting converted cornerback Nate Clements at safety this season and it just did not pan out for the aging veteran. Taylor Mays and Jeromy Miles were also started at the position, but they need more time to develop. This led the Bengals to bring in Chris Crocker in October; he had not played a down in the league since 2011.
After the 2012 debacle at strong safety, the Bengals could get a starter for years to come in Elam. He is noted as one of the best tacklers in college football and has above-average cover skills. He can learn from defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and become a force at the safety position in the NFL.
Round 2, Pick 52: RB Eddie Lacy, Alabama
The Bengals will be looking for a running back to compliment incumbent starter BenJarvus Green-Ellis early in the 2013 draft. Look no further than the 52nd overall selection.
Bernard Scott, Brian Leonard and Cedric Peerman are all free agents in 2013. Scott has been plagued with injuries and could not be resigned. Leonard is not as much of a threat anymore having a similar skill set to Green-Ellis which could lead to his dismissal. Peerman may be brought back, but it will be mainly for special teams purposes. This leaves a giant hole in the Cincinnati backfield.
Eddie Lacy provides exactly what Cincinnati is looking for in a young back. Lacy is a home run threat every time he touches the football. He also has great size and strength to complement his elusiveness and has a knack for using a signature spin move to get away from arm tackles.
Currently, Lacy is projected at a late second to early third round pick. If the Bengals would like to add him, this is where they will need to pull the trigger.
Round 3, Pick 85: CB Tharold Simon, LSU
As defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is commonly known for saying, you just can not have enough cornerbacks.
Cincinnati also does not know what they have in 2012 first rounder Dre Kirkpatrick, as he struggled with injuries during the past season. Corners Brandon Ghee and Shaun Prater also missed the entire season with injuries of their own.
At 6'2", 193 pounds, Simon is a very large corner that should be able to hold his own against NFL wide receivers. He needs to improve on his footwork in man coverage, but that can certainly be coached at the next level.
Simon finished his 2012 campaign with four interceptions, nine pass breakups and recorded 45 tackles.
Round 4, Pick 115: DE Devin Taylor, South Carolina
Devin Taylor was looking to be a future first round selection after he broke out in his sophomore season with the Gamecocks. Unfortunately, he was unable to keep up his stellar pace and has since fallen on draft boards.
This could be a very sneaky pick in the fourth round for Cincinnati, as Taylor has the size (6'7", 267 pounds) to play at the NFL level. He resembles the Bengals' current defensive end (and free agent in 2013) Michael Johnson in stature.
Taylor has been known to have stiff hips and does not fight through blockers well, but can be coached up at the next level to recreate his early collegiate success. He would also benefit from the depth of great linemen on the Bengals roster that demand attention.
Round 5, Pick 148: OG Alvin Bailey, Arkansas
The Bengals finished the 2012 season with a patchwork offensive line. Starting guard Travelle Wharton was lost for the season before it even began. Clint Boling stepped in at the position and was rather underwhelming.
Alvin Bailey is a huge reason as to why the Razorbacks were very successful on the ground this past season. He is a formidable force at 6'5" and 320 pounds. If Bailey is still on the board at this point, he would most certainly be the best player available.
Quality offensive linemen that can potentially start for many years in the NFL are not easy to come by, and Bailey could certainly be one of these prospects at a very cheap price in the fifth round.
Round 6, Pick 181: LB DeVonte Holloman, South Carolina
This would be the second linebacker that the Bengals select in the 2013 draft, and rightfully so. As stated earlier, the Bengals will need to be very active in the linebacker department in 2013 due to plenty of free agent veterans and an inexperienced reserve.
Holloman would come into Cincinnati as a big run-stopping linebacker with his 6'2", 241 pound frame. He excels at shedding blockers and getting into the backfield to stop rushers behind the line of scrimmage.
He may not be an every-down player, but could contribute early on special teams and as a substitute in the linebacker personnel group.
Holloman is expected to go anywhere from the mid-fifth to the mid-sixth round and would certainly be a steal for Cincinnati with the 181st overall selection.
Round 6, Pick 187: WR Aaron Mellette, Elon
The Bengals have plenty of question marks at the wide receiver position heading into 2013. They could certainly look at the position in earlier rounds, but they have larger holes to fill in other positions first. This leads the Bengals to take a wide receiver in the late sixth round.
Sanu looked to be the brightest star opposite A.J. Green, but his season was cut short after receiving a stress fracture in his foot late in the season.
Still, the Bengals are searching for the right players to keep on the roster at the position. Binns has already been cut and Tate is a free agent and unlikely to be resigned.
Enter Aaron Mellette.
Mellette has great size for an NFL receiver at 6'3", 214 pounds. He is not a burner by any stretch—as he runs the 40-yard dash in around 4.5 seconds—but he makes up for that with great athletic ability and steady hands.
He would not be a contributor on offense immediately, but could certainly become a developmental player that could see time on the field down the road as a No. 4. Grabbing a possible player that could receive playing time in this late in the draft would be a big win for Cincinnati.
This will be the last pick for the Bengals in 2013 as they traded their 2013 seventh round pick for safety Taylor Mays.