ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has released his first full 2013 mock draft, and his selection for the Cincinnati Bengals was eye-raising to say the least, as he had the Bengals nabbing Wisconsin runningback Montaee Ball:
Analysis: In terms of pure draft value, Ball might be a bit of a reach on my board at this spot, but in terms of fit, it’s hard to find a better one among teams drafting in this range. Once fully healthy, Ball showed off a quick burst into and through the hole, and the ability to do major damage on the second level, both making defenders miss and simply running through tackles. If Cincinnati is healthy at guard to start the season (the Bengals weren’t in 2012), Ball is a player who could take some pressure off Andy Dalton in 2013 by improving its ground game. A “nose for the end zone” is a bit of a throw-away phrase, but Ball truly has it.
Ball is projected by many analysts as “at best” a third-round pick, and may believe he’ll be a day-three pick.
In a more realistic scenario, NFL.com has the Bengals selecting LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery:
This lean All-SEC pick and Ted Hendricks Award finalist used very good quickness and a high motor to rack up nine sacks and chase down ball carriers all over the field in 2011. Like his high-profile teammate, Barkevious Mingo,Montgomery’s progression as a defensive player stagnated during his LSU career.Montgomeryhas some limitations as a pass rusher, but is a high motor player who holds his ground well against the run and constantly making tackles in pursuit. He figures to go on the second day of the NFL draft, projecting to a second or early third round pick.