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2017 MOCK DRAFT 5.0: Consensus builds for defense in first round and taking a deeper dive

FILE - In this Sept. 24, 2016, file photo, Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett (9) plays against Florida in an NCAA college football game, in Knoxville, Tenn. Barnett was selected to the 2016 AP All-America college football team, Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Wade Payne, File)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Local12.com continues its weekly series looking at several NFL mock drafts to see what the thought process is from national prognosticators about who the Bengals may select with the ninth pick overall in 2017 Draft.

The consensus continues to that the Bengals will be able to address help on defense in the first round either with a pass-rushing defensive end to replace veteran Michael Johnson or at middle linebacker to replace Rey Maualuga.

Johnson had just 3.5 sacks last season, while 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.

With the thought of replacing Johnson in mind, Rob Rang of The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com selected Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett for the third straight week and Dieter Kurtenbach of FoxSports.com also has the Bengals taking Barnett in his most recent mock draft.

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.

Both D.J. Boyer of DraftSite.com, and DraftTek.com each have the Bengals going with a different defensive end: Stanford's Solomon Thomas. He 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.

Two recent mock drafts from NFL.com analysts Bucky Brooks and Lance Zierlein have the Bengals taking Alabama middle linebacker Reuben Foster with the ninth pick. Another NFL.com analyst, Daniel Jeremiah, liked the Bengals taking Foster in most recent mock draft on Jan. 18.

Boyer did a full seven-round mock draft and in the second round he had the Bengals taking LSU center Ethan Pocic. That seems like a longshot because Russell Bodine showed improved this past season, his third as the Bengals starting center.

He then had the Bengals taking Michigan wide receiver Amara Darboh in the third round. He doesn't have the Bengals taking a linebacker at all, which seems far-fetched.

DraftTek.com also did a full seven-round consensus mock draft (click on each round on left side of screen after clicking the link) and had the Bengals selecting Virginia Tech tight end Bucky Hodges in the second round (he is 6 feet 7, 245 pounds) and then taking Clemson guard Tyrone Crowder in the third round with Darboh as the No. 1 alternate pick in that round. They then have the Bengals addressing linebacker in the fourth round with LSU outside linebacker Duke Riley.

Most of the mock drafts will likely stay pretty close to the same between now and the NFL Scouting Combine, which will be held Feb. 28-March 6 in Indianapolis followed quickly by the start of the free agency signing period on March 9.


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