The Bengals came into the last day of the NFL Draft with a league-high nine picks and got off to a fortuitous start Saturday when they took the top player on their remaining board in Auburn defensive end/linebacker Carl Lawson.
The 6-1, 261-pound Lawson, who has high grades for his football intelligence and effort like third-round pick Jordan Willis, may project to a linebacker who is a pass rusher on third down. Last year he had nine sacks in his first full season as a starter after being plauged with surgeries for a torn ACL and hip surgery.
Then 12 picks later with the 128th choice they picked up from the Vikings in Friday's trade they went with Tennessee wide receiver Josh Malone, a raw player who projects to a high ceiling with a blistering 40-yard dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine. The 6-3ish, 208-pound Malone fits the Bengals' typical specifications, but he ripped off a 4.42-second 40 in Indy. The scouts say he's got a slight frame and may take time to develop, but he averaged nearly 20 yards per catch and had 11 touchdowns last season, his third as a starter.
"I feel like I'm a big target, and I also feel like I'm a balanced wide receiver," Malone said. "I pride myself on just being technically sound and just getting open. So hopefully I can be a big guy for them on third down, or if they need a big guy in the red zone to go get it, I can be another one of those guys for them."
Then they finished off their three fourth-round picks with Michigan defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow, a three-year starter of which one scouting service observed, "Google (blue collar worker) and you will see Glasgow's face ... he will outplay his draft selection."
The 6-2, 300-pound Glasgow, son of two doctors and the brother of Lions center Graham Glasgow, is viewed as an excellent run stuffer.
Lawson knew the son of former Bengals Pro Bowl right tackle Willie Anderson in suburban in Atlanta and Anderson promptly texted photos of Lawson working at his gym.
"He's a younger. more athletic version of James Harrison," Anderson reported shortly after the pick. "I thought he was going to the Steelers. (Head coach) Mike Tomlin worked him out."
Anderson's fellow Auburn product and Bengals teammate Takeo Spikes hosted Lawson in one of his camps when Lawson was 11 years old and has gotten to know the 15-year NFL linebacker.
"He's got Takeo's effort and intensity," Anderson said.