10 Prospects That Should Climb the Cincinnati Bengals Draft Board After Combine
The NFL combine has officially come to an end. During this past week we saw a number of players fail to make a significant impact on coaches and pundits alike. However, we also saw some prospects manage terrific workouts and bolster their draft stock.
The Cincinnati Bengals' coaching staff was ever present at the combine and should have been able to come away with great information about these players leading up to April's draft.
Being that the Bengals are looking at every position (except for starting quarterback) in this year's draft, there are a number of performances that should have stood out.
From early-round prospects to those that may very well do undrafted, let's take a look at 10 players who very well could have climbed up the Bengals' draft board after their combine performances.
All combined statistics in this article are courtesy of NFL.com.
T.J. Johnson, C, South Carolina
T.J. Johnson official combine stats: 40-yard dash: 5.33 seconds; bench press: 32 reps; vertical jump: 25.5"; broad jump: 96"; three-cone drill: 7.83 seconds; 20-yard shuttle: 4.74 seconds.
Johnson (6'4", 310 lbs.) may have bolstered his draft stock by proving that he is one of the strongest players at the combine this year.
His 32 reps on the bench press put him in the upper echelon of all combine participants.
Along with his impressive workout, Johnson has a big frame and carries his body well. He is a very smart player and is capable of recognizing defensive schemes and blitzes.
He is currently pegged as a late-round prospect, but if he continues to impress leading up to the draft, the Bengals could certainly look to spend a draft pick on him when the time comes.
Johnson will not be a first-year starter, but he has the potential to develop and replace either center currently on the roster in his second season.
Marquise Goodwin, WR, Texas
Marquise Goodwin official combine stats: 40-yard dash: 4.27 seconds; bench press: 13 reps; broad jump: 132".
Goodwin (5'9", 183 lbs.), a former Olympian in the broad jump, bested every draft participant in the same event. To sweeten things up, the former track star also had the fastest 40-yard dash time at the combine.
The sheer amount of physical ability that Goodwin possesses is fascinating NFL scouts. His blistering speed and his vertical threat make him a very intriguing prospect.
He is not the cleanest route-runner and would be a developmental player, but if the is coached correctly, he could serve as a huge threat both at wide receiver and on special teams.
Even though he is a smaller receiver, he is not afraid to catch over the middle and is constantly battling with defenders down field to create space.
The Bengals currently do not have a clear-cut second wide receiver on the roster. They are also lacking a go-to kick returner. Goodwin has the potential to solve one or both of these problems.
Goodwin will be a Day 2 prospect, and if the Bengals have not looked at a wide receiver at that point in the draft, this is a name that could certainly be of interest.
Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise St.
Jamar Taylor official combine stats: 40-yard dash: 4.39 seconds; bench press: 22 reps; vertical jump: 35"; broad jump: 127"; three-cone drill: 6.83 seconds; 20-yard shuttle: 4.06 seconds.
Taylor (5'11", 192 lbs.) was one of the most impressive prospects at the combine this year. He was the top performer at his position in the 40-yard dash, bench press and 20-yard shuttle.
With combined speed and strength, Taylor makes for a great man coverage corner. He is physical on the line and is strong enough to knock receivers off their routes. His straight-line speed is impressive and he would be able to keep up with the faster receivers in the NFL.
He needs some work in zone schemes and does not defend the run very well. However, this is a department in which Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer would be able to help.
With Terence Newman and Adam Jones possibly headed to free agency, Dre Kirkpatrick still unproven and Brandon Ghee and Shaun Prater coming off season-ending injuries, the cornerback position for the Bengals is in serious question.
Taylor currently has a mid-round grade, but the Bengals could see enough potential from his combine performance to warrant taking him early in the second day.
Zimmer is known for his thirst for defensive backs, and Taylor seems to fit the needs of the Bengals secondary very well.
Onterio McCalebb, RB, Auburn
Onterio McCalebb official combine stats: 40-yard dash: 4.34 seconds; vertical jump: 34"; broad jump: 121".
McCalebb (5'10", 168 lbs.) had the sports world buzzing for a short while after he unofficially posted a 4.21 40-yard dash time which would have beaten the record set by Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans in 2008.
Later his official time was clocked at 4.34 seconds, which was very far off from the hand time previously recorded. Still, this is a very impressive time for a running back and one of the best times at the combine.
At Auburn, McCalebb was known for his burst and speed as well as his vision in the open field. He is a small, yet very elusive running back that has solid hands and can line up in the slot. He doubles as a kick returner as well and is just as dangerous at the position.
The Bengals are currently searching for a change-of-pace running back to share time with BenJarvus Green-Ellis. McCalebb fits that mold as well as filling other gaps left by players who departed in free agency.
Before the combine there was a slight chance to McCalebb going undrafted or possibly going in the seventh round. Now, Cincinnati needs to take a strong look at this player who could very well be worth their final sixth-round pick of this draft.
Zaviar Gooden, OLB, Missouri
Zaviar Gooden official combine stats: 40-yard dash: 4.47 seconds; bench press: 27 reps; vertical jump: 34"; broad jump: 131"; three-cone drill: 6.71 seconds; 20-yard shuttle: 4.18 seconds; 60-yard shuttle: 11.28 seconds.
Gooden (6'1", 234 lbs.) may have had one of the best combine workouts this year. At his position, he finished in among the top performers in every category aside from the vertical jump.
He would most likely have been a mid-round selection before the combine, but could certainly have found himself in consideration to go earlier after his stellar performance this week.
At Missouri, Gooden played the weak-side linebacker position which happens to be vacant on the current Bengals roster.
Gooden possesses great speed and physicality. He can get after a quarterback or running back in the backfield and can drop into coverage nicely.
His senior season was plagued by injury which slightly hurt his draft stock, but he maintained great numbers in years before. In both his sophomore and junior seasons, he was credited with a total of 165 tackles (13.5 for loss), four sacks, four interceptions and nine pass break-ups.
This production during his collegiate career along with his amazing combine shows that he is the type of player that could contribute immediately at the next level.
This could be a very valuable selection as Cincinnati could be able to find its future WILL linebacker without spending a first- or second-round pick.
Matt Elam, FS, Florida
Matt Elam official combine stats: 40-yard dash: 4.54 seconds; bench press: 17 reps; vertical jump: 35.5"; broad jump: 118".
Elam (5'10", 208 lbs.) showed his speed at the combine as he was one of the top performers at his position in the 40-yard dash.
One of the attributes that has been highly regarded about Elam is his great closing speed. After his official 40-yard dash results came in, it was clear as to how he is able to cover so much ground at the safety position.
Elam would serve multiple purposes if selected by the Bengals. He is great inside the box in run support, can patrol the middle of the field very well, can line up to cover a slot receiver and is excellent in kickoff and punt coverage.
Not only would Cincinnati be obtaining a starting free safety, but it would have yet another weapon on special teams.
After Elam's combine showing, it is possible to warrant first-round consideration from the Bengals with the 21st overall selection.
Collin Klein, QB, Kansas St.
Collin Klein official combine stats: 40-yard dash: 4.78 seconds; vertical jump: 29"; broad jump: 111"; three-cone drill: 7.17 seconds; 20-yard shuttle: 4.40 seconds.
Klein (6'5", 226 lbs.) is truly a developmental type player if there ever has been one. He is certainly not ready to play quarterback at the NFL level and teams have realized this, which has caused his draft stock to deteriorate.
However, at the combine, Klein reminded scouts what they already knew—he is a great physical specimen that can run very well with some shiftiness for a larger player. He can also keep his composure under pressure and has a very strong arm when throwing short to intermediate routes.
As a passer, Klein struggles to find rhythm due to an awkward throwing motion which causes inaccuracy. However, he does possess great leadership abilities and is a dual-threat player at the quarterback position.
Klein would fit well in the Bengals' West Coast system and could even be used in gadget plays in effort to better a rather stale offense.
The Bengals could certainly take a shot on this quarterback with their last selection of the draft, thus gaining a new backup quarterback without needing to use a higher pick. This will allow Cincinnati to fill larger needs earlier on in the draft and take a shot at this controversial quarterback late.
Michael Buchanan, DE, Illinois
Michael Buchanan official combine stats: 40-yard dash: 4.78 seconds; bench press: 22 reps; vertical jump: 33"; broad jump: 113"; three-cone drill: 6.91 seconds; 20-yard shuttle: 4.44 seconds.
Buchanan (6'5", 255 lbs.) showed the athleticism that he constantly showed during his junior season with Illinois. The most impressive aspect of his combine performance was his 6.91 three-cone drill time.
Although lanky, Buchanan has a quick step and can change direction very well for a player of his size. He is not the fastest defensive end in this class, but makes up for it with very nice technique with his hands while shedding blockers.
After his junior campaign, Buchanan was regarded as a future first-round selection. However, an altercation over the offseason left him with a broken jaw that was wired shut. This forced him to drop 20 pounds before his senior year, making him less effective.
His draft stock plummeted slightly and he is no longer regarded as a first-round selection.
Enter the Bengals and two second-round picks.
Buchanan should be able to gain weight over the offseason and contribute immediately in a rotation on the Bengals' defensive line. Adding yet another player with great physical attributes will bolster what is already one of the best defensive lines in the NFL.
Aaron Mellette, WR, Elon
Aaron Mellette official combine stats: 40-yard dash: 4.54 seconds; bench press: nine reps; vertical jump: 33.5"; broad jump: 123"; three-cone drill: 7.11 seconds; 20-yard shuttle: 4.41 seconds.
Although (6'2", 217 lbs.) Mellette's combine stats did not jump off the charts, that really was not the expectation. His 40-yard dash time of 4.54 seconds was slightly faster than expected as he is not known for exceptional speed.
What stood out most for Mellette during the combine was his runs in the gauntlet. He showed that he is a pure hands receiver and has great hip fluidity and vision which allows him to adjust his routes very well.
Being that Cincinnati is still searching for offensive weapons, Mellette's skill set could be very useful.
He will not burn defensive backs with his speed, but he is aggressive and physical enough to fight for the football. He will generally win these confrontations using his large yet soft hands.
He has been used on bubble screens despite his size due to his agility and ability to made defenders miss tackles after the catch.
Mellette is expected to go somewhere in the fourth or fifth round of the draft. The Bengals have made some excellent decisions in these rounds in recent years and Mellette could easily be the next great value pick at this point in the draft.
What he would bring to Cincinnati is great reliability as he should be able to gain the trust of quarterback Andy Dalton using the aforementioned attributes.
Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA
Johnathan Franklin official combine stats: 40-yard dash: 4.49 seconds; bench press: 18 reps; vertical jump: 31.5"; broad jump: 115"; three-cone drill: 6.89 seconds; 20-yard shuttle: 4.31 seconds; 60-yard shuttle: 11.33 seconds.
Franklin (5'10", 205 lbs.) is a prototypical change-of-pace style running back in which the Bengals are in dire need. He showed his speed, shiftiness and ability to cut during his drills at the combine. This reinforced everything that we saw during his senior year at UCLA.
A good, strong runner, Franklin is one of the smaller, shiftier backs that is not afraid to take the A-gap and initiate contact with a defender. He has great vision in the open field and loose hips which allows him to make defenders miss.
He does lack some upper body strength which cause him to fumble six times in 2011, but he seemed to clean those woes up very nicely last season.
Franklin possesses a very similar skill set to Bernard Scott who will most likely be leaving Cincinnati this season in free agency.
Scott always had a great deal of upside, but could not seem to stay healthy.
If the Bengals were to pursue Franklin, they could potentially find out what they could have had with Scott if he were able to sustain significant playing time during his tenure with the Bengals.
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