2017 NFL Mock Draft 6.0: Seven rounds (plus) of Bengals picks
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Since the Bengals' 2016 season came to an end Local12.com has done a weekly sampling of several mock drafts focusing primarily on who the team might take with the ninth pick overall in the first round, but this will be my first stab of the offseason at a full seven-rounds of selections for the team.
Keep in mind the Bengals will be receiving some compensatory picks for losing free agents prior to the 2016 season, but those have yet to be released (they are projected by OverTheCap.com to receive four such picks: two in the fourth round - for losing Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu - and two more in the sixth round - for losing Reggie Nelson and Andre Smith).
There is also the unknown of what the Bengals will do in free agency. They have several of their own key free agents to try to sign and this mock draft will assume they are able to re-sign left tackle Andrew Whitworth and cornerback Dre Kirpatrick and not be able to re-sign guard Kevin Zeitler.
There is also the matter of what the team (or the NFL or the court system for that matter) will do with cornerback Adam Jones following his arrest in early January and the release of the video of him in the back of the police cruiser on the way to getting booked.
Using the projections for compensatory picks from OverTheCap.com and player projections from DraftSite.com here is my first full mock draft based only on players who would be available per the rankings from DraftSite.com and the Bengals needs:
1st Round (9th pick overall): MLB Reuben Foster, Alabama
The Skinny: The Bengals have a desperate need for linebacker help as starting middle linebacker Rey Maualuga played the fewest snaps of his career and starting outside linebacker Karlos Dansby showed his age despite leading the team in tackles. Vontaze Burfict anchors the unit and can play in base and in nickel schemes, which Foster can as well. Second-year player Nick Vigil and veteran Vinny Rey are better-suited in utility and sub-package roles. It would be hard to pass on Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas if he is still on the board, but the Bengals need help at linebacker more and Foster is far and away the best prospect at his position in the draft.
2nd Round (41st pick overall): G Dan Feeney, Indiana
The Skinny: If the Bengals are unable to re-sign Zeitler as is projected here they will need to draft a guard who will likely be able to play right away. Feeney began his career at Indiana as a guard and started all 12 games there as a freshman in 2012 before an injury forced him to redshirt in 2013. He returned to start the next three seasons and showed his versatility by moving to right tackle for the final five games of this past season. He allowed one sack in his career and played well in the Senior Bowl.
3rd Round (73rd pick overall): CB Cameron Sutton, Tennessee
The Skinny: DraftSite.com has the Bengals taking Michigan wide receiver Amara Darboh and they will likely need to add to depth at wide receiver especially if they don't re-sign Brandon LaFell. However, no matter what becomes of Jones, a team simply can't have too many quality cornerbacks. Sutton suffered a fractured ankle in a game against Ohio early in the 2016 season but returned to play in the Senior Bowl and drew rave reviews for his performance throughout the week.
4th Round (114th pick overall - due to other teams' third round compensatory picks): DE Jordan Willis, Kansas State
The Skinny: There is a pretty good possibility that Willis will be gone by this spot in the draft as he is moving up the board after his reportedly very good Senior Bowl week, but DraftSite.com still had him on the board by this spot in its mock draft and the Bengals need help at the position. Willis was selected first team All-Big 12 after recording 11.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss in 2016.
4th Round Compensatory Pick (projected 139th pick overall): OT Will Holden, Vanderbilt
The Skinny: Some draft boards have him rated higher than this, but he is still on the the board of DraftTek.com (just barely) and the Bengals need to add depth at the position even if they re-sign Whitworth. Veteran Eric Winston was pressed into service far too much last season. The 6-foot-7, 315-pound Holden started 34 games in his career and was a second team All-SEC selection in 2016.
4th Round Compensatory Pick (projected 145th pick overall): DE Hunter Dimick, Utah
The Skinny: Though in this mock draft I have already selected one defensive end, keep in mind that Michael Johnson has shown he's past his prime and Margus Hunt simply never panned out. That leaves the Bengals with Carlos Dunlap and Will Clarke as the top two returnees so the Bengals need to add depth to the position. The 6-foot-3, 274-pound Dimick was selected first team All-PAC 12 after recording 14.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss as a senior.
5th Round (projected 155th pick overall): WR Kenny Golladay, Northern Illinois
The Skinny: The Bengals may choose to address wide receiver earlier in the draft, but assuming they re-sign LaFell they can afford to wait a bit. Golladay played on a team that used four different starting quarterbacks, yet still caught 87 passes for 1,156 yards and eight touchdowns and also rushed for 192 yards on 20 carries and scored two more touchdowns. He isn't very fast (4.57 in the 40-yard dash, although he has run a 4.47), but he is big (6 feet 4, 210 pounds) and was productive.
6th Round (projected 194th pick overall): QB Chad Kelly, Mississippi
The Skinny: I am in the camp that says the Bengals shouldn't trade AJ McCarron this offseason because this is a team that has a great chance to return to the playoffs and needs a quality backup in place and not an unproven project. That said this would be a good time to pluck a project quarterback and Kelly is a good fit for that even though he was extremely productive in his brief career at Ole Miss. He suffered a torn ACL late this past season and has had some off-field problems as well, including getting into a bar fight and getting kicked off Clemson's team in 2014 that led him to junior college and then to Ole Miss in 2015. He was productive enough to be selected second team All-SEC in 2015 and 2016. The Bengals could basically stash him on the reserve/non-football injury list for a year (because the injury occurred before coming to the NFL) like they did after taking McCarron in the fifth round of the 2013 draft, allow the knee to heal and hope he has matured enough off the field.
6th Round Compensatory Pick (projected 218th pick overall): CB Treston Decoud, Oregon State
The Skinny: He isn't all that fast (although he's been timed as low as 4.44 in the 40), but has good size at 6-foot-2, 213 pounds and finished with a team-high 10 pass breakups this past season. While it seems like the Bengals may have a potential glut of cornerbacks on the roster, Josh Shaw is probably better suited to play safety and outside of Kirkpatrick no one else is proven.
6th Round Compensatory Pick (projected 221st pick overall): RB Jahad Thomas, Temple
The Skinny: It's possible the Bengals select a running back much higher in the draft due to Jeremy Hill's lack of production the last two seasons, the fact Giovani Bernard is coming off knee surgery and the possibility that Rex Burkhead will be lost to free agency. Assuming the team will give Hill one last shot in the final year of his rookie contract that Bernard will be back in time for training camp the team can wait until this late to take a running back. The 5-foot-10, 188-pound Thomas has been timed as low as 4.36 in the 40-yard dash and was extremely productive the last two seasons. In 2015 he had 1,478 yards from scrimmage and scored 18 touchdowns. Then despite missing the first two games of the 2016 season due to injury, he finished with 1,371 yards from scrimmage and scored 19 touchdowns.
7th Round (projected projected 230th pick overall): G Corey Levin, Chattanooga
The Skinny: DraftSite.com has the Bengals taking him with the first compensatory pick of the sixth round, but several other rating sites have him as a seventh round grade so we'll take him here even though we took Feeney in the second round. Sure, Whitworth could play guard in a pinch and backup center T.J. Johnson actually performed well when he made his first career start at guard in the regular-season finale against Baltimore. The team took guard Christian Westerman in the fifth round of the 2015 draft, but we still don't know if he can play or not. The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Levin was a four-year starter and was selected three times to the FCS All-American team.