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Advertising Media Mock Draft 3.0: Knowledge Is Good


The Media Mock Draft careens into its third edition of 2024 fresh off Thursday night's Kelce brothers bash at the University of Cincinnati, and in their honor we draw on the immortal words of Faber College founder Emil Faber etched in Animal House lore:

"Knowledge is good."

Of course, there's a heck of a lot of knowledge outside NFL draft rooms these days in the tenacious build-up to April 25-27. We just don't know how good it is. But that didn't stop our panel of mockrakers from delving into the muck of another mock.

But what we have increasingly discovered since the NFL scouting combine is:

_The Bengals are in good shape at No. 18. As opposed to years past when they drafted in that range, the draftnicks believe they're going to emerge with a legit first-rounder on a deep board. (Although, their last two late first-rounders, Dax Hill and Myles Murphy, both had top grades.)

_Like he said himself, the Joe Burrow Window continues to be flung open. You could feel the draft before the draft when they pitched their fifth straight busy and brisk free-agency period looking for more in '24. As they go all-in, you have to figure they're banking on that first pick being a key contributor in a playoff run as well as padding for the future.

_The looming universe left for the Bengals to pluck from hits them in so many ways. No doubt there'll be a surprise or two in the top 17, but what you see is what you get. All but two of the prospects have appeared in all three of the Media Mock drafts.

Here is the latest configuration from our network of local beat scribes:

1.BEARS: QB Caleb Williams, USC; Brad Biggs, The Chicago Tribune: Per Biggs: Caleb all day. Lock it down.

2.COMMANDERS: QB Jayden Daniels, LSU; John Keim, Varying signals here, but they like his explosiveness and approach.

3.PATRIOTS: QB Drake Maye, North Carolina; Karen Guregian, The safer choice? Maybe J.J. McCarthy. But Maye has this Josh Allen upside thing going on.

4.CARDINALS: WR Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State; Darren Urban, They could do anything here and that includes taking a tackle, an edge, or a wide receiver. They probably won't do a trade until they're on the clock.

5.CHARGERS: T Joe Alt, Notre Dame; Jeff Miller, The Los Angeles Times: Justin Herbert's best receivers have gone away, but a guy who toughens them in the trenches and the run game also makes sense as Jim Harbaugh's first pick in L.A.

6.GIANTS: WR Malik Nabers, LSU; Mike Eisen, Their leading receiver was 5-8 Wan'Dale Robinson at 8.8 yards per catch.

7.TITANS: DE Dallas Turner, Alabama; Turron Davenport, With Alt gone and no trade looming, old friend Brian Callahan still gets the top prospect at his position to help Jeffery Simmons up front.

8.FALCONS: CB Quinyon Mitchell, Toledo; D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution; If the edge isn't there, get a lockdown cornerback opposite A.J. Terrell to get the pressure.

9.BEARS: WR Rome Odunze, Washington; Brad Biggs, The Chicago Tribune: A welcome to the Windy City gift for Williams.

10.JETS: T Taliese Fuaga, Oregon State; Rich Cimini, Barring a trade, the tackle run starts here for a club that has a pair of 33-year-old tackles and one of them, Tyron Smith, hasn't played a full season since 2015.

11.VIKINGS: QB J.J. McCarthy, Michigan; Mark Craig, Minneapolis Star-Tribune: They're in place to make a trade up and the thinking is they'll have to if they want this guy.

12.BRONCOS: QB Bo Nix, Oregon; Mike Klis, 9News: For the third straight Mock, Nix is the one.

13.RAIDERS: QB Michael Penix, Washington; Vinny Bonsignore, Las Vegas Review-Journal: The Raiders figure they're getting a QB at the right value with a guy they think is a top-ten pick if not for the injury concerns.

14.SAINTS: T Olumuyiwa Fashanu, Penn State; Jeff Duncan, Duncan, a long-time Saints observer, says tackle is their most desperate draft need in something like 15 years. Ryan Ramczyk has medical issues and 2022 first-rounder Trevor Penning lost his job. They only have two picks in the top 75 and they're thinking about trading out because there might be the same kind of guy in the 20s as there is here.

15.COLTS: TE Brock Bowers, Georgia; Stephen Holder, If Quinyon Mitchell is gone, Holder sees a debate brewing between the best cornerback left and Bowers. With Bowers quite possibly the top player on the board at this point, that may be a short conversation.

16.SEAHAWKS: T Troy Fautanu, Washington; John Boyle, Same guy as last time, with the reminder a trade back for a second-day pick is still a good option. But make no mistsake. Fautanu is a hell of a prospect who looks like he could play both tackle and guard.

17.JAGUARS: CB Terrion Arnold, Alabama; Michael DiRocco, DiRocco has taken Toledo's Mitchell in the two previous drafts and now that he's gone, he's sticking with the board's best remaining cornerback. With Tyson Campbell in a contract year and the Jags talking about moving freshly signed Packers safety Darnell Savage to nickel corner, DiRocco is "1,000% convinced," they going cornerback.

Clemson cornerback Nate Wiggins (2) plays against Florida Atlantic during an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sep. 16, 2023, in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)
Clemson cornerback Nate Wiggins (2) plays against Florida Atlantic during an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sep. 16, 2023, in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

18.BENGALS: CB Nate Wiggins, Clemson; Geoff Hobson, Our first pick in the long-ago days before the combine (Feb. 25), is still up there, Texas defensive tackle Byron Murphy II. An athletic freak as well as a productive performer. You'd take him right now, right? Marvelous player.

Our pick from last month, Illinois defensive tackle Johnny Newton, is also on the board. Maybe not as highly rated as Murphy, but still a solid pick at a premium position of need post-DJ Reader.

But for the heck of it, let's keep playing it out for another option.

LSU wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr., is there and that's enticing as heck. A guy oozing with potential not far off the three top-ten guys. But how much can he give them right now? Tee Higgins is here, Ja’Marr Chase can play all over the yard and that includes the slot, they love what Andrei Iosivas can do with a season under his belt, and it sounds like Thomas is still working on his route running. A great pick, but is the fit as good?

And with the way the receivers come out so good and so coached right now, if he's not Ja'Marr Chase do you get one later?

Also available on this board are two terrific right tackles, the position the Bengals have always seemed to be chasing during head coach Zac Taylor's six seasons. Maybe Alabama's massive J.C. Latham or Georgia's prototype Amarius Mims is the answer, but they've also got only 31 college starts between them. In Trent Brown they just picked up 100 games of NFL massiveness and this deep tackle list no doubt extends to the second round.

At this point we bring in The Athletic's formidable duo of Bengals beat artist Paul Dehner Jr., and draft guru Dane Brugler. Dehner's laundry list of traits the Bengals have coveted under Taylor and director of player personnel Duke Tobin dovetails nicely with Brugler's extensive scouting reports to give you a superb feel for what the Bengals may do.

The only thing we see missing from the traits list is "Games Played." These Bengals love guys who have played a lot of ball. (Another Alabama tackle, Jonah Williams, became Taylor's first first-round pick in 2019 with more than 40 starts.)

Some aren't enamored with the Wiggins pick because he's 173 pounds and Dehner has noted defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo loves long sleeves in his DBs. Wiggins' 30.5-inch arms may not be Lou-long.

But while Wiggins isn't Dick Butkus against the run, it's a passing league, right? And the 6-1 Wiggins doesn't lack length. As for some of the other boxes Dehner lists, Wiggins is there:

"Michigan, Clemson, SEC … big programs with big performances in the biggest games … elite secondary speed."

Wiggins, who played 36 games, hit 22 miles per hour when he came from behind for a goal-line strip to preserve a win over North Carolina. At the combine he ripped off a 4.28-second 40-yard dash that was second only to the combine record. The Bengals have loved that elite secondary speed the last two drafts with cornerback DJ Turner's 4.27 last year and safety Dax Hill's 4.3 the year before in becoming the cornerstone of what they've got back there.

Yes, they have Turner and potential Pro Bowler Cam Taylor-Britt starting on the outside, but they could use depth there post-Chidobe Awuzie. A guy like Wiggins would certainly be a help with his legs in December.

And the last time they picked a cornerback at No. 18, it worked out well in 2007. Leon Hall. Hall and Awuzie have arguably been their best outside cornerbacks during this century. (Hall and Mike Hilton get the nod in the slot.)

Plus, here's where the estimable Greg Cosell of NFL Films has come down on Wiggins:

"I may not have seen a corner with that kind of elite lateral and downhill burst in recent memory … Wiggins may be the most athletically gifted corner prospect in the 2024 draft class with his size/length/speed profile. There is no question that his traits package will get teams excited. Wiggins showed the ability to play physical press-man and mirror-match press-man."

Bottom line?

Knowledge is good enough where you can make a solid argument for any of these guys. Which is why the Bengals look to be in pretty good shape on the first night of the draft.


2024 NFL Draft

The Bengals source of news, interviews, photos and more at the 2024 NFL Draft.