Senior Bowl: 5 Players Who’d Look Good in Bengals’ Stripes


The Senior Bowl, and to a lesser extent the East West Shrine game, mark the unofficial start of scouting season for most fans. This is when we see future prospects removed from the college game and the coaches they’ve been with for four years. This is where these young men start the transition from prep to pro, their every move being critiqued. The Senior Bowl gives us a chance to see what many of the top seniors can do and also explore what position they’ll play in the NFL.

This is an excellent opportunity for guys to make a good impression on scouts and coaches. The Bengals have drafted from the Senior Bowl before and, over the last five years, an average of 86 players per year who attended the event have been drafted. That means that there is a good chance that at least one of these players will be on the Bengals’ roster for training camp.  The question is, which ones should we keep an eye on, and which ones appeal to what the Bengals are looking for? Here are five guys that will peak the interest of the Bengals.

DE – Za’Darius Smith, Kentckuy

The former Wildcat has already had an excellent offseason with an MVP performance at the East-West Shrine Game and a very solid Senior Bowl Week.  Smith possesses the ideal size, strength, and quickness that 4-3 teams are looking for in a base end/nickel rusher. In both All-Star events, Smith has shown he can beat offensive lineman around the edge and when rushing from the interior, something he wasn’t asked to do at Kentucky.

I will call it now and say, Smith gets drafted ahead of his teammate Bud Dupree, based on Smith’s position flexibility and attendence at the All-Star games. While I think Smith is talented, I don’t think he will be in the picture for the Bengals in Round One, but Round 2 could be an option.

OT – Rob Havenstein, Wisconsin

Every year the Badgers seem to have one or two offensive lineman that make their way to the NFL.  In fact, the Bengals already have a Badger on the line in former first-round pick Kevin Zietler.  Havenstein should have the Bengals intrigue as a massive 6’8″, 333-pound right tackle of the future.

Much like the guy he would eventually replace (Andre Smith), Havenstein isn’t going to win any Mr. Olympian competitions. However, he has the tools and technique to be an NFL starter on the right side. This could be a draft where the Bengals away with two tackles–one in the first/second round and one in the third/fourth round. Havenstein would likely be an option for the Bengals with their third or fourth round selection.

Keep in mind, the Bengals will receive two compensatory picks this year for Michael Johnson and Anthony Collins.  Both of these awarded picks could fall in this range making Havenstein’s selection a very realistic possibility.

FB – Jalston Fowler, Alabama

Fowler has put the “bama” in Alabama for the last few years when overwhelming would-be tacklers.

Jan 21, 2015; Mobile, AL, USA; South squad fullback Jalston Fowler of Alabama (45) runs the ball during Senior Bowl South squad practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

At 5’11”, 265 pounds, he is like a bowling ball, but Fowler also possesses surprising quickness through the hole and always keeps his feet moving up field.

At the Senior Bowl, Fowler is showing that he was underutilized at Alabama and is more than a traditional lead blocker.  With Ryan Hewitt potentially playing more tight end for the Bengals in the future, Fowler would be an excellent addition to the Bengals’ backfield as the team will presumably be transitioning to a power running team in 2015–even more so than this past year.  Fowler is the top rated fullback, so he could come off the board anytime after the third round.

DT – Carl Davis, Iowa 

Davis will remind you some of current Bengals defensive tackle Brandon Thompson. At 6’5″, 315 pounds, Davis can play both defensive tackle spots, but I like his fit at the nose. Davis does more than simply occupy blocker and stuff the run.  He is a powerful player and will use spin and club moves to disengage blockers, something that current NT Domata Peko struggles with.

It was clear this past year that the push and penetration was lacking in the middle of the Bengals’ defense, so that is something the Bengals mix via the draft and/or free agency. I could see Davis come off the board in the late second round, however this is really strong defensive tackle class so he could be around in the third.

DT – Gabe Wright, Auburn

While Carl Davis is an ideal NT, the former Tiger is more of a three-technique lineman.  Wright should transition well to the NFL finding himself at least a 25-30 snaps per game.  He is a penetrating tackle who is quick on his feet at 6’3″, 295 pounds.  For the Bengals, he would fill the void behind Geno Atkins on the depth chart. Wright has also shown the kind of versatility that would allow him to play defensive end as well.  He isn’t just a penetrator, but is also a player who reads and reacts well to plays. Wright is a player to start looking for within the third to fourth round range.

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