The Lone Star Showdown – Texas & Texas A&M
The Longhorns are going to go get after it with the most dangerous defensive end tandem in college football next season: Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor. With both of these animals likely to be off the board before getting to the point where the Bengals usually consider selecting pass rushers, strong safety Kenny Vaccaro should get some attention from Cincinnati scouts. Arguably the top strong safety in this year’s class, Vaccaro could find his way to the Bengals with one of their two second round picks depending on how Taylor Mays handles the starting job. At some point the Bengals have to stop taking ‘project’ safeties and invest in talent. Other Texas players to watch will be cornerback Carrington Byndom and mid-round wide out prospect Marquise Goodwin.
As if to answer the Longhorn’s pass rushers, the Aggies have the best pair of offensive tackles this year in Luke Jockel and Jake Matthews. Again, with the depth of talent at this position, Bengals fans are better suited to watch Texas A&M’s defense and monster outside linebacker Sean Porter. If the Bengals end with the same sort of strong finish as last year, Porter might be a great first round bolster at SAM. While wide receiver Ryan Swope and running back Christine Michael will probably eat up the Lone Star State’s headlines, cornerback Dustin Harris could be a late round talent that shouldn’t go unnoticed.
The Ol’ Standbys – Georgia & USC
Under Pete Carroll, the University of Southern California was a frequent picking grounds for the Cincinnati Bengals. Lately, however, it’s been Georgia. And while outside linebacker Jarvius Jones is the largest name on that school’s current roster, several other players have serious mid-round potential. Bacarri Rambo is a young, talented free safety and Brandon Smith is a cornerback worth keeping on the radar. Also note wide receiver Tavarres King and rush linebacker Cornelius Washington. A gem may be found very late in the form of inner linebacker Christian Robinson.
Its unlikely that Cincinnati will be in the hunt for Matt Barkley or his favorite target, Robert Woods, but TJ McDonald is unquestionably the best free safety coming into the league next year. The Bengals will be in the market for a defensive end too, which could manifest in the form of Wes Hurton or even Devon Kennard, but the Trojan to watch is going to be Khaled Holmes. As the top ranked center, Holmes could be the name to replace Kyle Cook if his ability to give Andy Dalton some elbow room is questionable for a second season. With the number one center and free safety in the line-up, a Bengals fan might be well served catch up on what’s happening in So Cal.