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Mock 9 features sound prospects

Posted Mar 17, 2017

The one difference from the first Bengals’ Media Mocker back in February is the emergence of the 9-20 theory. As in, it’s looking more and more like you can get the same kind of player at No. 20 that you can get at No. 9. The Panthers have given the pick to the commissioner. The Bengals are on the clock.

The first Bengals.com Media Mock Draft had Tennessee's Derek Barnett going to the Bengals at No. 9.

When the dust clears in free agency and the draft boards have been re-calibrated in the wake of the scouting combine and the first wave of the pro days, it’s always time for the latest version of the Bengals.com Media Mock Draft.

The one difference from the first Bengals’ Media Mocker back in February is the emergence of the 9-20 theory. As in, it’s looking more and more like you can get the same kind of player at No. 20 that you can get at No. 9.

That’s not a downer. You can get a good, solid player that is going to contribute right away. Make that, you better make sure you get a good, solid player that takes a lot of snaps as a rookie and sticks around long and well at No. 9.  Some of these guys may even actually turn out to be impact guys that transform you but that's always the roll of the dice.

1. BROWNS: DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M; Tony Grossi, ESPNCleveland.com _ Grossi believes Garrett’s impressive combine confirmed what the Browns thought. He’s the best player in the draft at a pass rusher position that has eluded them almost as badly as a quarterback. Bengaldom hopes that new left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi has a handle on his practice partner from their A&M days.

2.49ERS: QB Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina; Matt Maiocco, CSNBayArea.com _ They’ve got Brian Hoyer. They may get Kirk Cousins next year. Until then, they’ll take Trubisky or trade with someone who does.

3.BEARS: DT Jonathan Allen, Alabama; Brad Biggs, The Chicago Tribune _ Hey, this is the Bears. They’ve already made some moves up front, but they love to stack their front seven and now that they’re in a 3-4 and Allen is projected as a 3-4 end, it just makes sense. Plus, nothing has changed since last month. They finished 27th against the run.

Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore: would the Bengals go corner No. 1 for fourth time in six drafts?

4. JAGUARS: DE Solomon Thomas, Stanford; Pete Prisco, CBS Sports.com _  Even though the Jags came out of free agency with defensive end/tackle Calais Campbell and his eight sacks last season for the Cards, he’s 31 and you can never have enough pass rushers on what is fast becoming an extremely gifted defense. The Bengals’ trip there this season won’t be a day at the (Jacksonville) Beach.

5.TITANS: WR Mike Williams, Clemson; John Glennon, Athlon  _ The early guess was receiver. After Williams did what he was supposed to do during  Thursday’s pro day at Clemson, it still is. He’s not a burner (4.49-4.5), but he’s fast enough to give quarterback Marcus Mariota a No. 1 target type, particularly in the red zone. Rishard Matthews came over from Miami and caught nearly 1,000 yards on 65 balls, but he’s 6-0 and is more of a No. 2 or No. 3.

6.JETS: CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State; Rich Cimini, ESPN New York.com _ Darrelle Revis is gone and apparently has been unsuccessful in his attempt to lobby the hometown Steelers, where A.J. Green would get two chances this season to improve on the 180 yards he put on him in last year’s opener. The only regular corner back is slot man Buster Skrine.

7.CHARGERS: S Malik Hooker, Ohio State; Dan Woike, The Los Angeles Times  _ New Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley made his mark molding the Seattle secondary and in his final draft as the Jags head coach last season they went with a safety/corner in Jalen Ramsey at No. 5. A long play-making Earl Thomas-type safety fits for a club that never replaced Eric Weddle.

8.PANTHERS: RB Leonard Fournette, LSU; Joe Person, The Charlotte Observer _  Person is sticking with a running back here and this time instead of Florida State’s Dalvin Cook he takes the big fella. With Carolina so focused on protecting quarterback Cam Newton and no linemen in sight on the big boards, why not do it with a punishing running game? But they very well could be tempted by Alabama tight end O.J. Howard.

Imagine O.J. Howard teamed with Tyler Eifert.

9.BENGALS: TE O.J. Howard, Alabama; Geoff Hobson, Bengals.com _ All things being equal, they'd probably like to trade back if they're faced with this scenario. But that is going to be a long line so odds are they'll be here.

On the surface, Howard looks like a non-Bengals pick. Too high for a tight end, they’ve already got a Pro Bowler in Tyler Eifert, and Howard’s numbers aren’t all that impressive for a Cincinnati team that loves college product1ion.

But go below the surface and it makes sense. At No. 9, they are looking for someone that can make an immediate impact and as safe as pick as possible and Howard qualifies on both counts.

The pundits are saying as you go into the later rounds this is as deep a draft as you’ll find. But what has emerged over the last month is that after Garrett, the top of the draft is as jumbled as it has been in years.

There a lot of fine prospects, but not a lot of slam dunks. For instance, there are health concerns about Fournette, size and durability questions about Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster, and Hooker only did it for one year.

If Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green came out this year, he’d be the No. 1 pick. As it is, Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams is rated 15th and Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis is 12th on the ESPN big board.

The Bengals really need an edge rusher or two, right? While Michigan’s 6-5, 272-pound Taco Charlton has the dimensions to fit the Bengals defense and Tennessee’s Derek Barnett has the college  production, Barnett has tumbled down the big board to No. 22 and Charlton is at No. 17.

And it all depends on whose board. One NFL.com list of the top 50 prospects has Davis No. 10, Williams No. 11, Barnett No. 13, and Charlton No. 23.

What makes things easier for the Bengals is the depth. There are going to be defensive ends available in rounds two through four and maybe even a defensive tackle. But for all we know, they got them ranked in the top ten. We don’t know.

The highest player on the ESPN big boards at this point with the Bengals on the mythical clock at No. 9 is LSU safety Jamal Adams, a wonderful player. He may be a great safety. But if he’s not and is just good, how much does that help you?

What we do know is that many of these guys are going to be fine pros and you’re going to be happy to get them. But the 6-6, 250-pound Howard is just about the safest pick in this range of the draft. He’s considered to be NFL ready, a potential Pro Bowler who can play all three downs. He’s big, has hands that pluck, and runs a 4.5-second 40-yard dash that is matchup hell in the slot.

There is talk about a running mate for Green at wide receiver. What about one for Eifert? Remember how Patriots tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett made life miserable for the Bengals last season?  NFLDraftScout.com compares Howard to Jimmy Graham. You’d pay to see Eifert and Graham in the same offense, wouldn’t you?

What guy at No. 9 can come in and change this team for the better more than Howard? And forget about blocking. Tight ends simply don’t block in college and barely in the pros.

It would also add some insurance for Eifert, who has missed 23 games in the last three years.

Howard on the ESPN big board?

No. 8.

The one list on NFL.com?

No. 7.

So if that’s where the Bengals rank Howard, they’ll stay true to their board as well as holding firm on  getting a difference-maker in the top ten. And they’ll have to solve pass rush later,

 

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