Nov 17, 2012; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Montee Ball (28) during warmups prior to the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Camp Randall Stadium. Ohio State defeated Wisconsin 21-14 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Making a Mockery

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Let’s hope it really is just version 1.0.

Mel Kiper Jr. has released his first mock draft of the year and his Bengals prediction is a doozy, as he has Cincinnati taking Wisconsin running back Montee Ball with the 21st pick of the first round. Jason discussed this earlier Wednesday, but most experts have Ball going in the third round or later.

So what gives? Why does Kiper have Ball projected to be picked so much higher than other draftniks? It could be a number of things, but a big chunk of Kiper’s predictions rely on his industry connections, namely NFL executives and agents. And that’s the part that scares me.

It scares me that Kiper has talked to Bengals management, and that they are that high on Ball. It scares me even more that management told Kiper that they like Ball enough to select him in the first round. Kiper has been doing this for almost 30 years. Putting his scouting hat on, does he really like Ball that much more than every other analyst, enough to use a first round pick on the former Badger?

I just don’t see it, and I really hope I’m wrong. The Bengals have other holes that need filling before they look at running back. BenJarvus Green-Ellis is nobody’s idea of a Pro Bowler, but if recent NFL history has shown anything it’s that productive backs can be picked up late in the draft, or even as undrafted free agents.

This might just be paranoia, and let’s hope there’s nothing to Kiper’s mock draft. Another solid draft could really set up the Bengals as the favorites in the AFC North for the next few years. Reaching for a running back without first round talent in the first round because he has “a nose for the football” (Kiper’s words) sounds like the 1990s Bengals, and we all know how that turned out.


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