The NFL convenes at the scouting combine next week and if you think it's too early for the second edition of the 2019 Bengals.com Media Mock to draw a bead on the universe of players available with the 11th pick on Thursday night, April 25 in Nashville, think again.
You can count on two things that our Mock on Tuesday can't account for more than two months before the sainted event. There's a better than even chance there'll be at least one trade into the top 10 and an almost 100 percent shot it's going to be for a quarterback.
Still, when we reached out via phone last February before everyone headed to Indianapolis, eight players that would go in the top 10 were off the board by the time the Dolphins picked at 11. The two fast finishers were Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield at No. 1 and Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey at No. 9.
So this thing can give you a pretty good gauge about who is going to be there and who is not. If it goes like last year, the Bengals get a chance at two of Tuesday's top 10 picks. What we don't know is how many of the QBs are going to be deemed worthy of the top ten. It's not like last year where four went in the top 10, but who is going to join Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins?
Some QB invariably always does whether he deserves it or because you can't play without one. So maybe the Bengals are sitting in a nice spot for a trade that can get them some extra high picks. Maybe not. But here's a Mock with no trades, only names:
1.CARDINALS: OLB Josh Allen, Kentucky; Kent Somers, Arizona Republic
This pick figures to be all but on the auction block. That is, if new head coach Kliff Kingsbury is really set with quarterback Josh Rosen. They need help on the O-line, but there is nobody there to take No. 1 overall and they already have Chandler Jones rushing off the edge. But Allen is seen as a real game-breaker that can run and because Somers cites Allen having a better health history than Bosa, he thinks that could influence the Cards.
2. 49ERS: DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State; Matt Maiocco, NBC Sports Bay Area
It looks like the Niners are just going to sit there and let the Cards make the call for them. They're going to take either Bosa or Allen since they don't have an edge rusher on a defense that was involved in seven turnovers, half of the total of the next-to-last team, the 14 of the Eagles.
3. JETS: DT Quinnen Williams, Alabama; Rich Cimini, ESPN.com
Last year they were one of those teams to trade up to this spot to get that quarterback, Sam Darnold. They may be just as eager to trade back out of there to recoup some of the ammunition they spent to make the deal. If not, the Jets were 25th in defense last year and what better way to start the Gregg Williams Era on defense with a guy that shares the same name and has the potential to be a dominant player anywhere he lines up.
4. RAIDERS: DE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson; Jerry McDonald, Oakland Tribune/Bay Area Newspaper
McDonald picked Ferrell even before he declared for the draft and he's sticking with him. McDonald is a long-time observer of the Raiders and he's just not buying all the hype about a QB. Hard to pass on the Ted Hendricks Award winner on the strength of a double-digit sack season a year after the Raiders traded away Khalil Mack's 12.5 sacks.
5. BUCCANEERS: OT Jonah Williams, Alabama; Rick Stroud, Tampa Bay Times
If Jameis Winston is going to be the man then they have up to upgrade an offensive line that finished next to last in rushing and is getting long in the tooth. They'll probably franchise left tackle Donovan Smith, but right tackle Demar Dotson is in his 11th season and Williams could play right tackle or guard.
6. GIANTS: DE Rashan Gary, Michigan; Mike Eisen, Giants.com
Eisen has been covering the Giants since Parcells and Belichick, so he knows a defensive pick when he sees one. He notes that last year Giants GM Dave Gettleman landed arguably the best pick in the draft in Penn State running back Saquon Barkley without trying to find the successor to Eli Manning. Eisen also notes that during Gettleman's run as Carolina GM from 2013-16, the Panthers picked a pair of defensive linemen No. 1 in tackles Star Lotulelei and Vernon Butler.
7. JAGUARS: QB Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State; Pete Prisco, CBS.com
Prisco wrote the book on the Jaguars more than 20 years ago ("Jags to Riches,") with current Jaguars.com chief John Oesher) and knows Jacksonville boss Tom Coughlin like no other. No brainer here, he says. They're looking for a franchise QB and this guy makes every throw.
8. LIONS: ILB Devin White, LSU; Mike O'Hara, DetroitLions.com
There are some edge rushers left and the Lions, led in sacks with 7.5 by undrafted end Romeo Okwara on his second team, could use a consistent pass rush threat. But O'Hara, who has been writing about the Lions in five decades, thinks White would be a great book-end for Jarrad Davis, a first-round linebacker from 2017. White isn't quite 6 feet and he's listed as an inside backer. But, let's face it, there are no inside or outside backers these days and O'Hara says the "speed, acceleration and explosion," of both covers the defense from sideline-to-sideline.
9. BILLS: OT Jawaan Taylor, Florida; Mark Gaughan, The Buffalo News
The Bills traded up into the top 10 last year for one of those QBs and now they have to help Josh Allen. After a No. 21 ranking in sacks per pass and no successor in sight to Cordy Glenn, now the Bengals left tackle, this is a safe bet. They could keep Dion Dawkins at left and put Taylor at right, or switch it. Plus, they not only need a starting a tackle, but at least one starting guard and maybe two. But Buffalo could go a lot of ways here. Allen could also use a wide receiver or a tight end.
10. BRONCOS: CB Greedy Williams, Alabama; Mike Klis, Denver's 9News
The Joe Flacco era begins with Denver needing a cornerback now that Bradley Roby and Tramaine Brock are hitting free agency. At 6-2, 185 pounds, Williams is supposed to be the next great SEC corner. He's tall, but not too tall to flip his hips and go. He's LSU's active career leader in interceptions and pass breakups.
11. BENGALS: LB Devin Bush, Michigan
OK, with Williams and Taylor gone at left tackle, let's see what we've got left on the defensive line: Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver, Mississippi State defensive end Montez Sweat and the guy we took in last month's mock: Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. For a defense that finished last, all are upgrades.
And when you consider the whole package, it's just tough to give up on Wilkins. Great character guy who played more than 50 games with blue-chip production and came through on the biggest stage of all in the national championship game. He's ranked eighth on ESPN's Big Board supplied by Scouts, Inc.
But when it comes to what they need on this defense more than anything, the eye keeps going back to Bush even though it looks like a reach. Scouts, Inc., rates him 18th. Mel Kiper Jr., has sent him to Pittsburgh at No. 20.
And yet read what the NFL Draft Network says about what they say is a prospect that benefits the way the game is played now even though he's just 5-11, 222 pounds:
"Dynamic second level defender who is capable of disrupting behind the line of scrimmage courtesy of blitzes or when stepping to fill vs. a down block. Trusts his speed and can actually get even better and working down into gaps earlier for splash plays … One of the most dynamic linebackers in the class, has terrific ability to dart through short spaces or scrape laterally and slide a gap to slip a block. Has great speed through all angles and is smooth when planting to drive forward and work into the play … Terrific burst off of the line. Secondary acceleration on delayed blitzes is dynamic and one of his best weapons on the field … experience in numerous types of responsibilities against the run and upside as a 3rd down defender (blitz ability and potential in coverage) set him up for an impact role (after two seasons starting with 10 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss.)"
With Vontaze Burfict barely being able to play the last two seasons, the Bengals defense has been carved in the middle of the field by either the run or mismatches horizontally not vertically and they look a few years behind the times schematically. Wilkins would be nice and, yeah, maybe Bush is a reach. Maybe.
But what do they need more than anything? And if he plays anywhere near the reports, who'll remember he's a reach?