Possible late round sleepers for the Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals will be addressing their biggest needs at the beginning of the NFL Draft, but what might they find in the later rounds?
The Cincinnati Bengals are going to have their hands full at the beginning of this year’s draft with numerous needs, many coming from the offensive line group. They also need to look at addressing linebacker, cornerback, safety, and possibly tight end. While the team has talked about being in win now mode, they still have to take a look at the future and what contracts are up at the end of this season.
If the Bengals cannot bring back defensive end Carlos Dunlap after 2018, that’s another defensive end they have to look at and try and develop this year. The other side of the defensive line is defensive end Michael Johnson who many fans wanting to be replaced this year and his contract is up after the 2018 season as well. Then you have tight end Tyler Eifert who is a toss up on whether he will pan out for the Bengals and be able to stay healthy.
Late round players are perfect for these types of situations because they are not expected to start right away. They can sit and learn from good veterans while working with coaches on developing into a better player. This is something that head coach Marvin Lewis has done with all of his rookies giving them limited roles their first year but he might not have that luxury this year with the needs of the team. At least not with the early round players.
There are plenty of late round players that could be turned into stars if given the right coaching and mentoring. Every year there are players in the mid to late rounds of the draft that turn into good and sometimes great players in the NFL. Will the Bengals be able to find their own gems in the late rounds of the draft at some positions that they should already be looking at? Here are some small school picks that could be a good fit in the later rounds.
South Dakota St. wide receiver Jake Wieneke
Standing at 6’4″ and 213 pounds, South Dakota State wide receiver Jake Wieneke makes for an interesting prospect. After struggling with injuries in his junior year of high school, Jake Wieneke had to settle for a smaller school scholarship. Since joining South Dakota State, the young receiver has shined hauling in 288 receptions for 5,157 yards and 59 touchdowns over four years. He was a first-team All-American in 2015 setting a conference record with 72 receptions for 1,472 yards and 11 touchdowns.
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While his speed will most likely force him into a third wide receiver position in the NFL between the twenties matching up against smaller cornerbacks, his size and physicality will make him a real threat in the red zone. His fewest touchdowns in a season were in 2015 with just 11 but outside of 2015, he scored 16 times every year.
His three straight years of 70 plus catches and 1,300 plus yards are enough to have scouts looking at him for the next level. Wieneke will have to find other ways of finding separation in the NFL lacking the elite speed but he still has the potential to be a real threat downfield. Playing the ball very aggressively and positioning himself well to block out cornerbacks at the catch point make him an interesting pick in the later rounds. The Bengals could use another red zone target to relieve the pressure from wide receiver A.J. Green and tight end, Tyler Eifert.
Humboldt State offensive tackle Alex Cappa
This year’s offensive line class is deep and with the number of needs the Bengals have in the trenches, it wouldn’t hurt to still be drafting guys in the later rounds. One guy that might fit the bill is offensive tackle Alex Cappa out of Humboldt State. Cappa is a guy that might take a year or so to develop but with new offensive line coach Frank Pollack that wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Cappa is a mauler in the trenches and plays with a nasty style. Division II defenders never stood a chance when going up against him. When playing for smaller school’s, the thing to look for in prospects is whether or not they dominated and looked like they should have been playing for a bigger school. Cappa dominated his weaker opponents without a doubt.
He is an athletic freak that is a bigger monster in the run game than he is in the pass. This is something that could have him moved inside to guard unless he can develop with Pollack and become a better pass blocker. Cappa has the speed and athletism to pull and block on the outside for the run game as well.
Most of the criticism was his lack of playing against NFL type talent at Humboldt State. Cappa went to the Senior Bowl to prove he belonged and did so by taking on top 20 prospect defensive end Marcus Davenport. He was named a first-team Division II All-American by the Associated Press as a senior. This could be a great pick for Pollack to groom over the next season or two with little risk as they can probably grab him in the fifth round of the draft where they have three picks.
University of South Florida defensive tackle Deadrin Senat
Here is a prospect that I might have to end up doing a full film review on before the draft. Listed as a defensive tackle, Deadrin Senat showed the ability to line up over the center or at defensive end in a three-technique for passing situations. His size would force him into more of a defensive end role unless he can put on some weight only coming in at 314 pounds.
Senat doesn’t always have the stat lines to show his work considering he does most of the dirty work. His ability to take control of linemen and move them around the backfield opens up big holes in the line for linebackers to get through and make the play. He plays best in tighter sets which could work really well for him if the Bengals remain in the 4-3 scheme. Plugging him next to defensive tackle Geno Atkins if he can put on some weight could be a solid grab in the fourth round.
His best abilities are plugging lanes for the run game consistently keeping his eyes up and forcing the running back into the direction of other linemen and linebackers. While his pass rush is nothing that jumps out in the film he does enough to warrant staying in on passing downs. With a quick burst off the line of scrimmage and power, he can wreak some havoc up the middle.
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Due to a solid Bowl performance, Senat could find himself being taken in the mid to late third round. Anyone looking for someone willing to do the dirty work in the trenches would love to have him. Considering the playmakers on the Bengals defensive line, they should strongly consider Senat next to Atkins to help stop the bleeding run game. He won’t light up the stat sheet with tackles but he will force running backs in other directions and open holes for linebackers to blitz through.