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2017 MOCK DRAFT 1.0: Bengals could get pick of Alabama linebackers

Paul Guenther's unit finished 19th in the league in sacks with 33 on the season, with just three from the linebacker position. (WKRC/Tony Tribble)

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 this is the first one now that the Bengals draft position has been set at No. 9 overall.

According to this recent version from Rob Rang of The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com, Cincinnati could target a starting linebacker from Alabama.

But it's not 2016 Butkus Award winner and all-SEC LB Reuben Foster, previously linked to the Bengals by colleague Dane Brugler here and here. Rang projected Tim Williams, an outside linebacker for the Crimson Tide, who is an edge rusher that put himself on scouts' radars by racking up 10.5 sacks in 15 games during his junior year.

The 6-4, 237 lb. senior returned for his senior season and ran into trouble off the field - arrested in September for carrying a pistol without a permit. He collected 27 tackles and posted 8.5 sacks to tie for the team lead while forcing two fumbles. That helped Williams earn second-team All-America honors from the Associated Press. Against Washington in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Williams had two tackles, including half a sack.

The problem with Rang's thought process is that defensive coordinator Paul Guenther doesn't use his linebackers to rush the passer very often and relies on his front four to supply most of the pressure. The Bengals finished 19th in the league in sacks with 33 on the season, but had just three from the linebacker position.

The Bengals defense was among the toughest in the NFL to score against in the second half of the season as it allowed just 15.8 points per game over the final eight games.



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