2017 MOCK DRAFT 4.0: Bengals could get pass rusher or linebacker
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - From time to time during the regular season, Local12.com 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.
With that in mind each week leading up to the draft there will be a look at some mock drafts and possibilities for that selection.
This week the six mock drafts we will regularly look at all have the Bengals going for help on defense.
Thomas is listed at 6-foot-3, 273 pounds and was selected Most Valuable Player in the Sun Bowl in a performance against North Carolina that was even far more dominant and disruptive than his final stat line of seven tackles (two for loss) and a sack.
This past season Maualuga started just six games and had a career-low 27 tackles, 17 of which were solo stops. He comes out in almost every nickel defense situation, because he is a poor pass defender, and isn't close to as effective against the run as he once was.
Rob Rang of The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com selected Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett for the second straight week.
Barnett, who is 6-foot-3, 257 pounds, set the school record at Tennessee for career quarterback sacks, which surpassed NFL Hall of Famer Reggie White, who had 32.
Either Thomas or Barnett would conceivably help a Bengals defense that notched just 33 sacks in 2016, ranking 19th in the NFL.
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. Defensive end Michael Johnson had just 3.5 and would likely be the odd man out if the Bengals take either Thomas or Barnett.
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.