Bengals Mock Draft 16.0: With Foster perhaps out of mix, ranking 1st round possibilities

NOTE: Since the 2016 Bengals regular season ended has taken a look at different mock draft and draft scenarios for the team each week, including a second full seven-round mock draft (with projected compensatory picks and highlights of each player) on March 15, and this is the latest in the series (daily position previews will begin on April 20 and a final Mock Draft for the team will be done the morning the draft begins on April 27):

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - The general consensus the past few months has had the Bengals selecting Reuben Foster in the first round of the NFL Draft, but the question now is whether the Alabama linebacker will be out of the mix if reports of his surgically-repaired shoulder perhaps needing further surgery are true.

There are conflicting accounts about the condition of Foster's shoulder: one that said a recent re-check of it didn't go so well and could require a second surgery, while his agent, Malki Kawa, says Foster is ahead of schedule in his rehab.

No matter what the truth it's still possible the Bengals draft Foster, because free agent Kevin Minter was only signed to a one-year contract.

Let's just say the Bengals aren't comfortable with the medical reports, or how Foster acted at the NFL Scouting Combine and in any subsequent meeting coaches and player personnel staff had with him.

With that in mind, here are five possibilities from national Mock Drafts assessing who the Bengals are taking with the ninth pick and why that player makes sense and perhaps doesn't:

1. DE Derek Barnett (Tennessee)

The Skinny: If he is available - and if Solomon Thomas hasn't somehow slipped down this far (he is projected as high as No. 2 overall) - then this should be the pick.

The Bengals are in desperate need for a pass rusher opposite Carlos Dunlap. Barnett, in three seasons at Tennessee, had 33 sacks and 110 hurries, which is better than projected overall No. 1 draft pick Myles Garrett.

2. DL Jonathan Allen (Alabama)

The Skinny: His stock has been all over the board from as high as No. 3 overall to in the teens because of multiple shoulder surgeries. It should be noted that he didn't miss any games over his last three seasons at Alabama and in those three seasons had 41.5 tackles for loss and 28.5 sacks. It's possible he can play both tackle and end.

3. DE Taco Charlton (Michigan)

The Skinny: I'm just not a big fan. He has some measurables the Bengals love (he is 6-foot-6 with a long wingspan), but he didn't run all that fast at his pro day (4.93 in the 40-yard dash) and he wasn't overly productive this past season (8.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss).

4. TE O.J. Howard (Alabama)

The Skinny: He is the No. 1-rated tight end by, and there's no question that Tyler Eifert has been injury prone. In addition, neither 2015 draft picks Tyler Kroft nor C.J. Uzomah has exactly distinguished themselves. I can't see the Bengals going this early for this position.

Eifert says he should be good to go by training camp following back surgery, and if so then Kroft and Uzomah are serviceable backups.

I suspect the Bengals take a tight end sometime after the fifth round if they take one at all.

5. WR John Ross (Washington), WR Mike Williams (Clemson) or WR Corey Davis (Western Michigan)

The Skinny: They each bring something a little different. Ross has pure speed. Williams has great size and physicality. Davis is simply productive. Each has a chance to be outstanding, but the Bengals have far greater need on defense. This whole narrative that the Bengals didn't adequately replace Marvin Jones and Mohammed Sanu is simply false, because Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd combined for better production in 2016 than Jones and Sanu combined for in 2015.

It would be nice to have a wide receiver to take the top off the defense with great speed, but A.J. Green does a pretty good job of that already.

The Bengals will have time to address wide receiver in the draft in later rounds if they so choose, and it's not like they haven't had success with wide receivers taken after the first round, either.

Of the top 10 wide receivers in team history in terms of receiving yards, six were not taken in the first round (Chad Johnson, Carl Pickens, Cris Collinsworth and Darnay Scott were all taken in the second round, while T.J. Houshmandzadeh was a seventh-round pick and tight end Bob Trumpy was a 12th-round selection).

And keep in mind Sanu was a third-round pick and Jones was a fifth-round pick and current starting slot receiver Tyler Boyd had a successful rookie season after being taken in the second round.

Earlier Mock Draft Stories

Here is a link to each of the 13 previous Mock Draft stories from this offseason:

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