All the talk around the Bengals has been to draft a wide receiver to replace Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu. They addressed the receiver position with free agency in signing Brandon LaFell. Still, every mock draft has the Bengals taking a receiver with their 24th pick. I’m not sure that’s the answer for this team.
Imagine if this guy lined up at receiver for the Bengals:
"Silky smooth with terrific route quickness. Plays with consistent play speed into and out of his breaks and can hit the gas out of his breaks to create instant separation for anticipatory throws. Runs variety of routes from the slot. Almost impossible to stay with his “whip” route. Clean with his double moves and if cornerbacks bite, is able to get over the top to track throws and run under them for the big play. Will adjust routes to ball placement. Not afraid over the middle. Born to catch a football. Just eight drops with 253 catches and is able to adjust to high, low or behind him for difficult catches. Loves to compete. Willing to jump into a cornerback and get after him as a blocker from slot. Takes pride in his work ethic and scouts say his personal and football character is extremely high. Was a talented basketball player and long-jumper in high school."
Sound a little like Marvin Jones? What about this guy?
"Thickly built for a wideout with broad shoulders. Productive target over last two seasons with 145 catches. Works back to the throw. Bodies up smaller corners and keeps them away from the throw. Has strength in his hands to brush away press coverage or latch onto cornerbacks and sustain blocks as a run blocker. Finished 2015 with 14 catches of 25-plus yards."
Sound like a similar comparison to Mohamed Sanu?
These are analysis from Lance Zierlein from NFL.com Draft Profile. The first player is Oklahoma’s Sterling Shepard and the other is Jordan Payton from UCLA. The other thing these players have in common is that they are both projected to be drafted in 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or even 5th round.
My point is that this isn’t the 2011 draft that featured receivers like A.J. Green and Julio Jones. Surefire guys that you knew would change the way an offense operated. This year’s draft class is loaded with line talent on both sides of the ball. With the 24th pick, don’t be surprised if the Bengals use it to sure up the defensive line with someone like Chris Jones out of Mississippi State or sure up the offensive line even more with someone like Ryan Kelly out of Alabama.
I know receiver is the “sexy” pick that everyone wants to see, but unless the Bengals are SURE that Corey Coleman, Will Fuller, or any other of the first round receivers are a going to be viable day 1 contributors, I think they can add valuable depth at other positions and find the similar receivers in later rounds.