Will the Cincinnati Bengals make a move that fans will cheer about in this year's draft?
The 2013 NFL draft is almost upon us as the Cincinnati Bengals brace for yet another top-notch draft. Now that each team has a mostly-solidified big board, the value of certain prospects are starting to become more clear.
That makes this time all that much more exciting for fans of the NFL. Mock drafts are beginning to reflect more of what is likely to happen come draft day.
Of course there will be many changes between now and April 25. Teams will sign and re-sign free agents as well as part with players due to cap restrictions. Also, during Round 1 of the draft, many possible trades are likely to happen which will shake up things even more.
However, with the current draft order staying intact, this is a very likely scenario for the Bengals during this year's draft.
Each prospect will have a highlight reel attached for your viewing pleasure.
Jonathan Cyprien has become a very viable option at 21 overall. This is not a reach as it was viewed to be a month ago. Now that scouts have had a chance to really study this prospect, his stock only seems to be improving by the day.
Safety is obviously one of Cincinnati's greatest concerns heading into the 2013 NFL draft. Landing a top-notch prospect like Cyprien will certainly get things headed in the right direction for the Bengals once again.
During the highlight reel, take notice of Cyprien's anticipation. He is great in deep coverage and reads the quarterbacks' eyes very well. This allows him to make an early break toward the intended wide receiver and come away with an interception, deflection or big hit.
Another thing to look at here is Cyprien's textbook tackling. He wraps up very nicely and does not tackle solely with his arms or with a high pad level. He is also very comfortable stopping the run in the box which will be a great addition on Mike Zimmer's defense.
Despite his incredible play on the field, it is becoming more apparent that Alec Ogletree's draft value may have plummeted after a DUI and other off-the-field concerns. During the 2012 season, Ogletree seemed a lock in the first round. However, lately he has become more of an early second-round prospect.
That should work out just fine for the Bengals. They have taken in and turned around their fair share of athletes with a troubled history. Ogletree would make a fine addition to a very young and promising linebacker corps that desperately needs to fill a vacancy.
During this highlight reel, take notice right away of not only the fundamental tackling skills that Ogletree possesses, but also the intensity with which he tackles. The Bengals are becoming a much more aggressive team on defense, and he would fit perfectly.
Ogletree is also shown in coverage in this video. He is capable of dropping in zone and reading the quarterback, and in man coverage against a tight end.
Finally, he has a great nose for the ball-carrier near the line of scrimmage. Ogletree seems very capable of constantly finding a running back in traffic and making a play.
The Bengals have now addressed their two greatest needs in the draft. This would be a perfect time to go after a game-changing running back. It just so happens that Johnathan Franklin, one of the most explosive backs in the draft, is projected in this portion of Round 2.
Adding Franklin to the offensive side of the ball would give Cincinnati so many more options and versatility. He will immediately add another faster dimension out of the backfield. Also, a great receiver, Franklin can easily provide quarterback Andy Dalton with a much-needed security blanket.
During this highlight reel, notice that Franklin keeps a great pad level throughout the duration of each of his runs. This keeps his forward momentum moving which allows him to break tackles or, at least, gain yards after contact.
The most impressive aspect of Franklin's running ability is his nasty one-cut ability. He cuts so decisively and quickly, defenders barely have a chance to react and Franklin has already blown by. Once he is in open space, he has a great next gear and is very difficult to catch from behind.
Brian Schwenke would be a very welcome addition to the Bengals offensive line. The center play in 2012 was absolutely horrid and could use an immediate upgrade. This is where Schwenke comes in.
A very versatile player, Schwenke has experience at every position on the offensive line and has excelled at each. He only has one year under his belt at the center position; however, he has great instincts and quickness which allowed him to adapt quickly. He is also a very durable player having played in 48 out of 50 possible games while in college.
The video contains some great footage from Schwenke's performance during the Senior Bowl. He is a great anchor in the middle of a line against the largest defensive tackles. He matches quickness with his strength well as he can pull nicely from the guard position (3:51 in the video).
He is not pushed back easily while run blocking and provided great pass protection throughout the Senior Bowl.
With talks seemingly stalling between the Bengals and right tackle Andre Smith, it could be time for this franchise to move in a different direction. If that happens to take them in the direction of Reid Fragel, they may not miss their former right tackle.
Fragel is a converted tight end and only has one season under his belt as a right tackle. However, he was mainly used as a blocking tight end and the move came naturally to him. He has great agility, even after adding weight for the new position. This allows him to block at the second level in the running game.
He has a great frame which will allow him to add even more bulk for the NFL. Fragel needs some adjustments from an NFL staff, but could easily become a starter in his first year. The Bengals have done a great job finding these diamonds in the rough during the fourth round. This could be the next great find in the middle of the draft for Cincinnati.
Watch in the video as Fragel pushes defenders back off the line of scrimmage while run blocking and is long enough to stretch defensive ends around the outside of the pocket in pass protection. With a little work, this could be another elite offensive lineman at the next level.
The Bengals starters should be set at the wide receiver position for 2013; however, bringing in more talent for depth and development is never a bad idea. Aaron Mellette comes from Elon, a very small school, and will need some tutelage at the next level.
Mellette could easily turn into a viable weapon on an offense once he is ready. He has a big, strong frame which he uses to shield defenders away from the ball. His size makes him incredibly difficult to tackle as well. Mellette is also a natural hands catcher. He put this on display nicely at the combine while running the gauntlet.
During the video, take notice that although Mellette does not have elite speed, but he makes up for it by becoming a large target for his quarterback downfield. He uses his hands very well and catches almost everything that comes his way.
He is very quarterback friendly as he has a very large catch radius. Mellette could most definitely serve as a complementary receiver in an NFL offense within his first two seasons.
Brandon Jenkins had a very impressive early career as a defensive end at Florida State. However, he was derailed with a Lisfranc injury during the first game of his senior season and was unable to return. His draft stock has quickly diminished since his injury.
Jenkins is known as a speed pass-rusher; however, after sustaining his injury, teams are concerned he will not be able to get back into form. He is even being considered at an outside linebacker by teams running a 3-4 scheme due to a potential loss of burst.
He is certainly a talented pass-rusher, but he may be a situational player at best. This would work out perfectly for the Bengals due to their constant defensive line rotation.
However, if Jenkins can get himself back to where he was in 2010, grabbing him in the late part of Round 6 could be the steal of the draft.
This is a very low-risk, high-reward selection for the Bengals due to his current position in the draft. They could certainly look like geniuses if he happens to pan out.
During the video, take notice to Jenkins initial burst off the line at the snap. He is very quick to get moving around the tackle and uses his arms nicely to gain inside leverage to get to the quarterback.
John Lotulelei played two seasons at Merced College followed by two more at UNLV. He was a team captain and team tackles leader by his last season in Las Vegas. During his senior season, he recorded a total of 120 tackles including a game-high 19 vs. Reno.
Lotulelei is a very physical player that can find the ball-carrier easily through traffic and is a solid tackler in open space. He does have the ability to drop back into coverage which is a must at the WILL position.
Unfortunately, his game footage from UNLV is quite rare; however, the video above is from Merced College in 2010.
In this highlight video, Lotulelei shows his aggressiveness by quickly closing in on a ball-carrier and wrapping up nicely for a sure tackle. He also showcases his speed in this video. Once a receiver has broken into the secondary, Lotulelei has the closing speed to catch these skill players from behind.
At the NFL level, Lotulelei should be able to contribute on special teams immediately and possibly work himself into a situational linebacker down the stretch.
Former Duke quarterback Sean Renfree could possibly be one of the most NFL-type prospects at his position in the draft. Renfree, 6'3", 219 pounds, is built much like Dalton and plays in a similar fashion as well.
He is not afraid to throw into tight windows which gets him in trouble at times (0:07 into the video). However, he does have nice accuracy and great velocity when stepping in to his throws. He has above-average arm strength but his decision-making can be questionable at times.
He would be a great developmental project at the NFL level and has the intangibles to at least become a solid backup.
During the video, take notice to how Renfree struggles at first by staring down his receiver on the first snap. He makes up for it by looking off the secondary and throwing a beautiful 37-yard touchdown.
On the first play in the second half, take note of how he drives the ball forward by shifting his weight nicely to his front foot. This turns into an absolute strike for a touchdown.
The Bengals struggled mightily in the return game last year and have not done anything to improve upon that for 2013. That will be where Onterio McCalebb comes in.
McCalebb is one of the fastest prospects at the running back position in this year's draft. He has great vision, burst and straight-line speed in the open field. All of these characteristics make him a very dangerous weapon in the return game.
He will probably not be able to be featured much offensively due to the limitations with his size. But he could certainly handle a small amount of offensive snaps in an effort to get him into the open field while keeping his main role as a return specialist.
In the video, watch as McCalebb is always running with his eyes upfield. He is always looking at where he needs to go and what he needs to do well beforehand. His shiftiness and terrific acceleration make him very elusive in the open field.
He would most certainly be a valuable addition to the special teams unit in Cincinnati.