2017 MOCK DRAFT 3.0: Bengals look to improve pass rush

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - From time to time during the regular season, published some NFL mock drafts to target which players may make sense for the Bengals in the coming season. But now that the Bengals draft position has been set at No. 9 overall, it may be easier to forecast who might be available so each week leading up to the draft there will be a look at some mock drafts and possibilities for that selection.

Not one, not two, but three different mock drafts in the last week pinpointed the need for an explosive pass-rusher off the edge to replace veteran Michael Johnson. Dieter Kurtenbach of, and Rob Rang of The Sports Xchange/ all selected Derek Barnett.

The 6-foot-3, 257-pound defensive end out of Tennessee would conceivably help a unit that notched 33 sacks, ranking 19th in the league. Barnett was the first true freshman to start a season-opener for the Volunteers in their history and closed out his outstanding career in the Music City Bowl against Nebraska with a sack to become the all-time sacks leader in program history. It was his 33rd career sack, which surpassed NFL Hall of Famer Reggie White, who had 32 in his career at Tennessee.

Click here for highlights of Barnett's record-breaking sack.

Defensive tackle Geno Atkins led Paul Guenther's defense with 9.0 sacks last season, while defensive end Carlos Dunlap had 8.0. No other player had more than 4.0, so a pass rusher would help. Johnson had just 3.5.

The Bengals defense ranked 17th this past season in yards allowed (350.0), but allowed the eighth-fewest points (19.7 per game) and was fifth-best in passer rating allowed (83.1) despite the mediocre pass rush.

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