2015 NFL Draft: Spotlighting Bengals’ Mario Alford
Oct 18, 2014; Morgantown, WV, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers wide receiver Mario Alford (5) scores a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Baylor Bears at Milan Puskar Stadium. West Virginia Mountaineers defeated Baylor Bears 41-27. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
The Cincinnati Bengals rounded out their 2015 draft class by taking West Virginia speedster wide receiver Mario Alford. Alford, a 5’8” 180-pound All-American kick returner for the Mountaineers possesses one very important, un-coachable trait, speed. Alford ran a blistering 4.27 40-yard dash at his Pro Day in Morgantown, and the tape doesn’t lie, this guy is fast.
Mario Alford, a senior, had 65 catches for 945 yards last season, but most importantly, 11 touchdowns. Those 11 touchdowns tied him for the Big 12 lead in 2014 and did not include his two kickoff returns for touchdowns.
Many would think a seventh-round pick would have trouble making their perspective NFL team’s roster, however in a salary cap driven league, a seventh-round pick won’t cost a team much. In fact, over 70% of all seventh-round picks taken in the 2013 NFL draft were on an NFL roster to start their respective rookie seasons.
Alford is the type of player who could make an immediate impact early and often. One skill set that is missing from Hue Jackson’s dynamic offense is a speedy slot receiver and Alford fits the bill. He can catch passes out of the backfield, or be a third down option for Andy Dalton.
Another impact Alford can have is on special teams by returning kicks and punts. It’s safe to say Bengals fans are tired of rolling their eyes watching Brandon Tate fair catch a punt inside the five yard line, or run a kickoff out from eight yards deep in the end zone just to get tackled at the 10. Starting field position is everything in the NFL, and Alford has the speed and the know-how, to help the Bengals change this particular dynamic of a football game.
Whether the Bengals plan on using Mario Alford on special teams, in certain offensive packages, or even as a decoy, look for this guy to be on the field this season. With no glaring needs, the Bengals had the luxury of drafting specific positions, and with the 238th overall pick, they chose a kick returner/slot receiver hybrid player in Mario Alford.