Bengals Mock Draft: Fresh 7-Round Predictions Post-Week 1 of Free Agency
The opening rounds of free agency are in the books, and for many teams, this means new additions to the roster have drastically changed their draft plans.
The Cincinnati Bengals are not one of those teams.
Yes, the team lost both defensive end Michael Johnson and offensive tackle Anthony Collins, but those losses were expected and already played into most mock drafts.
That said, the ripple effect of how the draft falls into place will most certainly be felt by the Bengals come draft day. The following is an updated look at how the Bengals front office should maneuver in order to best continue competing in the present and find success in the future.
Round 1: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Depending on how the board falls, the Cincinnati Bengals need to hit one of either cornerback or offensive line here.
A luxury such as defensive tackle is also a possibility, but the best possible move to infuse an iffy position with youth to best prepare for the future is by hitting cornerback.
To some, TCU's Jason Verrett is the best the class has to offer. While knocked as strictly a slot corner based on his size, that's not a bad thing for the Bengals—a team whose top three corners on the depth chart are over the age of 30 and present injury risks.
As ESPN's Todd McShay points out, Verrett has the look of a great pro:
TCU CB J Verrett reminds me of Antoine Winfield. Little guy that plays bigger than many 6-foot CBs. He just earholed Texas Tech TE J. Amaro!— Todd McShay (@McShay13) March 3, 2014
Verrett won't play right away and doesn't need to in Cincinnati. But he's a surefire starter down the line and is versatile where the team will need him to be most.
Round 2: Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
Antonio Richardson bulldozed his way through the SEC and has seen his name be somewhat forgotten in what is overall a very impressive offensive tackle class.
As Bleacher Report's Matt Miller points out, Tiny has quite the reputation among his peers:
Several of the college defensive ends I've talked with feel like Antonio Richardson was one of the best blockers in the SEC.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) March 16, 2014
Like Verrett, Richardson will not start right away for the Bengals. He's a long-term plan for when Andrew Whitworth decides to hang up the cleats and will do well as a backup who fills Anthony Collins' void.
Round 3: Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor
Many experts are guilty of hyping Cyril Richardson to the moon as a first-round pick during the last collegiate season, but his stock has since bottomed out after stiff workouts at the combine and less foot speed than many had previously thought.
Bengals fans will surely understand a thing or two about offensive linemen who struggle with their weight but turn out to be pretty good starters under the guidance of Marvin Lewis.
This could the case with Richardson, as illustrated by Doug Gabriel of the National Football Post:
Richardson has talent. He is just too heavy. If he can get his weight down to about 320, he has a chance to be a starter in the NFL. He flashes being able to do all the things required to be a winning guard in the league, but to be a consistent player and play to that level, he needs to have more mental discipline and control his weight. Right now, I see him as a mid-round pick.
Richardson has immense talent, but he needs guidance. He would get that in Cincinnati and can compete for the starting gig at left guard right away.
Round 4: De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
There is no right or wrong way to view De'Anthony Thomas' NFL stock. Some say he fits the mold of the new-era weapons sweeping the league, such as Tavon Austin.
That's fine, and if the league views him that way, he will be off the board in the first two rounds.
But there is another crowd that says his slender frame won't hold up in the pros and his overwhelming statistics are the product of a system.
Thomas is a feast or famine pick for the Bengals. He could turn out to be a viable commodity, such as a Darren Sproles, or fall flat on his face like a Dexter McCluster.
The reasoning here is simple. For one, the Bengals can afford a luxury pick or two. Secondly, any weapons that can help to mitigate the potential issue under center are a good thing. Three, Thomas contributes right away as a returner and can see eight to 10 snaps on offense each game if Andrew Hawkins leaves.
What's not to like?
Round 5: Aaron Lynch, DE, South Florida
With Michael Johnson gone, the Bengals could use another rotational pass-rusher to supplement the duo of Margus Hunt and Wallace Gilberry.
Marvin Lewis loves his risky reclamation projects, so South Florida's Aaron Lynch makes sense in a multitude of ways.
Lynch is a first-round physical talent who is unfortunately bogged down by red flags, as DraftInsider.net's Tony Pauline points out:
Separate sources tell me major red-flags on Aaron Lynch/DE-OLB/South Florida coming out of combine...— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) March 8, 2014
It's hard to say how Lynch's pro career will turn out, but his physical talent is through the roof. The Bengals have already paid him a personal visit to see him work out, and one has to think that if he is still on the board in the fifth round or later that Lewis will have no issue pulling the trigger on such a talent.
Round 6: Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty
Not many know of Walt Aikens, especially after he did not receive an invite to the combine, but the 6'0" and 203-pound defensive back recently put on a show at his pro day and has a game that screams "quality pro depth."
Aikens plays physical at the line of scrimmage and shows strong in run support, although his body of work at such a small school brings up the obvious questions.
This late, the Bengals would be more than happy to grab quality depth, especially now with Brandon Ghee a member of the San Diego Chargers.
Round 7: Kapri Bibbs, RB, Colorado State
It took 1,741 rushing yards and 31 touchdowns last season, but the nation is finally aware of Kapri Bibbs.
It is simply good draft strategy to take at least one running back per year these days given the wear and tear of the position, so Cincinnati may want to grab one here to eat up snaps in the preseason and potentially break through to the 53-man roster.
Bibbs certainly has the talent to do so. Some question his speed, but he is strong between the tackles with good vision and can perhaps one day be, at a minimum, a short-yardage specialist in Cincinnati.