Cincinnati Bengals Mock Draft: Who Are the Experts Projecting to Cincinnati?
With the NFL draft only a couple of months away, the discussions about who will take who in the first round are beginning to intensify. The experts' drafts are beginning to be examined—and of course, criticized—more closely.
I, naturally, will go ahead and criticize away. The Cincinnati Bengals completely fizzled out to end their 2012 campaign, and it seems that they are one step away from being a formidable AFC force.
That being said, who are the experts saying will build the Black and Orange empire?
Mel Kiper: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
When it comes to NFL draft analysis, no name is bigger than Mel Kiper. Despite his expertise in the field, having the Bengals take Kenny Vaccaro with their first-round pick is one that makes me scratch my head.
Kiper's logic, according to his ESPN mock draft 2.0, is that Vaccaro's presence as a strong safety will complement Reggie Nelson on a solid Bengals defense. Additionally, Kiper rationalizes that with the Bengals needing help in the linebacker corps, Vaccaro could play in the box and defend the run as well as drop back into coverage.
Is Vaccaro a first-round level talent? No doubt about it. The issue I have is that a safety should not be the main concern on Cincinnati's list of needs. It's definitely a concern, but one that can be addressed with one of the two second-round picks.
It is key for the Bengals to get that middle linebacker they now so desperately need. Should none of the top-notch linebackers be available, however, Vaccaro would make for a good first pick.
Matthew Fairburn: Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
Matthew Fairburn, in his mock draft on SB Nation, had Cincinnati taking a linebacker, though not the preferred option. Arthur Brown, however, did stack up a pretty good season at Kansas State in 2012, amassing 100 tackles and intercepting two passes.
Fairburn claims that Brown and Cincinnati are, "a match made in heaven." His logic here is that he can cover as well as anyone at his position and that his prowess as a shed linebacker will contribute to Mike Zimmer's defense.
For me, Brown is a bit undersized, though he makes up for that with his speed. I'm certainly of the belief that he could fit in in Cincinnati, but I'm doubtful that he's the correct guy to take.
It's hard to argue with his Big 12 success, but the combine will have to prove more to me.
Michael Schottey: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
Ezekiel Ansah built his entire profile on an impressive 2012 season with BYU, where he recorded over 60 tackles and 4.5 sacks. He performed admirably in the Poinsettia Bowl against San Diego State, making an interception in the game.
Michael Schottey, one of Bleacher Report's NFL lead writers, has selected Ansah to fall to Cincinnati under the presumption that the Bengals are a team that usually takes a chance on a player like Ansah. Schottey claims that he doesn't play with much technique and can go on long stretch of good, followed by long stretches of bad.
Over time, Ansah has begun to gather comparisons to Jason Pierre-Paul of the New York Giants. While that's good, Schottey's criticism of Ansah's tendency to "disappear for long stretches" concerns me. That's not the guy Cincinnati needs to be adding.
Plus, a defensive end is nowhere near a first-round caliber concern for the Bengals. I'm optimistic that the team will be able to re-sign Michael Johnson and it won't be necessary for Cincinnati to waste a first-round pick on an end, particularly one that is seemingly inconsistent.
Dane Brugler: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
Dane Brugler of CBS Sports thought Cincinnati would take a pretty big gamble by taking Datone Jones in the first round of the NFL draft, a move that would like draw the same reaction as Seattle's drafting of Bruce Irvin last season.
The reasoning here was pretty vague, but he seemed to make it clear that Cincinnati would be taking a gamble.
It's bad enough that he has Cincinnati drafting an end they don't need this badly, but the fact that they take a second-tier end is a slap in the face of the Who-Dey nation. If the Bengals are going to take an end, they could at least target an Alex Okafor.
Cincinnati has no business taking a guy like Jones, who played for UCLA on a three-man line, a different system from Mike Zimmer's four-man front. He'll have to adjust, and there's nothing that convinces me he could do that.
Matt Miller: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
Ah, thank goodness for Bleacher Report's own NFL draft lead writer, Matt Miller, to get it right. There is no doubt that Alec Ogletree is the best-case scenario for the Bengals.
Miller discussed in his mock draft how Ogletree could be moved to the weak side in Zimmer's scheme and drop back into coverage rather than taking on blockers head on. He also made the (very true) point that Cincinnati is looking to improve their defense in this draft.
Ogletree was recruited by Georgia as a safety, but due to his power and size, was moved to linebacker. He could certainly move to the weak side, as Miller suggested, but it makes more sense to leave him on the inside. Cincinnati can keep Vontaze Burfict and Thomas Howard on the outside, letting the rookie Ogletree to take over Rey Maualuga's position.
Alec Ogletree, hands down, should be the pick here.