Recent mock draft has Bengals making interesting pick

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 02: Derwin James
ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 02: Derwin James /

The Cincinnati Bengals need to address specific holes this offseason but the latest mock has them skipping those in the first round of the draft.

The Cincinnati Bengals have multiple positions that need upgrading this offseason to help them get back in the playoff race for 2018. The most common positions are offensive linemen, linebacker, and tight end. The latest mock draft by Walter Football has the Bengals taking a different route in the first round of the draft. In fact, they have Cincinnati picking up a safety with the 12th overall pick.

Walter Football has the Bengals taking Florida State safety Derwin James. Since safety Reggie Nelson left after the 2015 season and signed with the Oakland Raiders, the Bengals defense hasn’t been the same. While safety Shawn Williams has been a good replacement, he’s not the playmaker that the Bengals defense needs.

Cincinnati’s defense landed at 18th in yards allowed per game in 2017 and it will need to be better if they want to get back to the playoffs. The defense walked away from 2017 with only 14 total turnovers and need more playmaking ability to turn it around in 2018. Could Derwin James be the missing piece to help solve the turnover battle in 2018 for the Bengals?

NFL Draft Profile: Derwin James

With each one of these profiles, the NFL gives a comparison to a player that’s already in the league. James compared to Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry. That part alone should warrant some research to anyone doubting taking the young safety in this year’s draft.

More from Stripe Hype

Berry is one of the best safeties in the NFL and Kansas City saw what it’s defense looked like without him after an injury in the regular season opener against the New England Patriots. Without Berry on the field, the defense lacked the playmaking abilities across the entire defense in 2017. It wasn’t till late in the season that the Chiefs were able to come away with enough forced turnovers to make the stat sheets look better.

What makes James compare to such an elite safety like Berry is his ability to be a playmaker no matter where he lines up on defense. James likes to make a play on the ball whenever it is thrown in his area of the field. Unlike most safeties though, he can line up as a hybrid linebacker in the box and play both the run and pass. This is something teams are looking for more and more each year from their safeties.

When Berry is on the field for the Chiefs he is the first player that opposing quarterbacks look for when approaching the line of scrimmage. The ability to line up anywhere on the defense and consistently make the opposing quarterback guessing on what one playmaker is going to do at the snap is priceless. Like Berry, James can help punish the run game, blitz the quarterback, and cover tight ends and running backs while lining up in the box.

Even though the Cincinnati defense needs a linebacker more than anything on that side of the ball, James could still help fill that need. His ability to be versatile and make plays starting inside the box is extremely valuable. It would allow the Bengals to play three safety sets and while having more secondary players on the field, have a hybrid linebacker there to help with whatever the offense runs.

The Bengals need a playmaker at the linebacker position as well as the secondary. The leading sacks by Cincinnati linebackers is a combined 3.5 over the last two seasons from Vontaze Burfict. James would give them a blitzing piece to increase the pressure on opposing quarterbacks and always keep them on their toes. Not allowing an opposing quarterback to get comfortable is the first rule of defense.

Next: Should Bengals move on from Brandon LaFell

If the Bengals organization decides to go with the best pick available no matter the position, Derwin James could be the likely candidate for the 12th overall pick in the draft. Even though he’s not in the category of positions most needed to fill this offseason, he can contribute to one of those position groups with his versatility.