Round 1 (Pick 24): Eli Apple – Cornerback, Ohio State
6-foot-1, 200 pounds
The Bengals selected a corner in the first round of the 2012 draft (Dre Kirkpatrick) and 2014 draft (Darqueze Dennard), so it’s possible Cincinnati could select another corner in the first round, continuing the streak of drafting a corner in the first round every other season. At the very least, it’s highly probable that the Bengals will take a defensive player in the first round this season, unless Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu both leave in free agency.
Apple, a 20-year-old corner who even played college football in the state of Ohio, perfectly fits the Bengals’ physical mold for cornerbacks. He’s right near 6-feet-tall, he’s not too skinny–just what the Bengals want. Apple is plenty physical against the run (five-and-a-half tackles for loss in 2014), and he can make plays against the pass (10 pass breakups, three interceptions in 2014). And because he hasn’t played in a ton of games–which could hurt his draft stock–Apple could easily fall to Cincinnati late in the first round.
In selecting Apple, the Bengals would fill a long-term need, give themselves the ability to redshirt a young player, maintain a philosophy of committing first-rounders to cornerbacks and please a lot of Ohio fans who want to see their favorite college football players continue their careers in Cincinnati.
Next: Round 2