The Cincinnati Bengals have two third-round picks and can find some players falling in the draft or hidden gems in this area.
The Cincinnati Bengals have two third-round picks in this year’s draft and can find some valuable starters at those picks. Whether players fall to the third round unexpectedly or players that are projected to be drafted in the third, Cincinnati could find some valuable talent in the middle rounds. In the 2017 draft, the Bengals were able to grab some pretty good talent in the third and fourth round of the draft bringing in linebacker Carl Lawson in the fourth and defensive end Jordan Willis in the third.
I’m higher than most on Willis considering what I saw from him going back over his limited snaps in 2017. He was a raw talent that was in need of some development which is perfect for the Bengals as they rarely give rookies considerable playing time. Willis is a good run blocker that needed some work chasing the quarterback but with a year working with some of the best defensive linemen in the game and a full offseason, I think Willis could have a good 2018 season.
Carl Lawson lit the league on fire in his limited role with the Bengals defense last season. In his rookie campaign, Lawson hauled in 8.5 sacks while playing a defensive end position/edge rusher. Lawson will see more linebacker roles as the Bengals try and convert him so they can move him around the defense. He played defensive end at Kansas State so this will be an interesting transition to watch. Regardless, I think the Bengals knocked it out of the park with these two mid-round picks.
I wanted to take a look at who could possibly fall into the third round or is projected to be there when Cincinnati picks and see who could be an interesting choice with their two picks. There are some players that fell down draft boards from poor combine visits but played really well in college and there’s some that are in a deep class in their positional group.
Pittsburgh tackle Brian O’Neill
While doing mock drafts over the last few weeks I have seen Pittsburgh tackle Brian O’Neill there in the third round when the Bengals first pick quite often. The 6’7″, 305-pound tackle had some inconsistencies at the Pro Bowl practices and difficulties with some matchups that have teams dropping him on their boards. While he is a great athlete, he finds himself looking at a third-round grade.
Coming out of high school in Deleware, O’Neill had never played offensive line. His positions were tight end and defensive end. He was a big prospect out of Deleware as a tight end with 33 receptions for 614 yards and 8 touchdowns. At defensive end, O’Neill collected 45 tackles, 5 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles. He was moved to the tackle position when Pittsburgh suffered numerous injuries on the offensive line and never moved back.
NFL analyst Lance Zierlein projects that he will grade in the second or third round but I think he will find a new home in the third. His inconsistencies and lack of size and strength may have him moving inside to a guard position early in his career with the possibility to move back outside after some development. Spending most of his time at right tackle in college, O’Neill would be a good player that the Bengals could plug in at tackle or guard on the right side. Both positions are in need of help.
There was very little tape of simple dropback passing protection for him as Pittsburgh used mostly rolling pockets and bootlegs. This is another reason why I think that moving him to guard in the early part of his career would benefit him as he will have help on both sides and has little experience in protecting a simple dropback. If Cincinnati can’t find help in the first round at tackle with Notre Dame Mike McGlinchey, the third round might be a place to take a guy like O’Neill who can start inside and work back outside.
Penn State safety Marcus Allen
Considering we have seen some top safeties in the third round in these mocks with the stacked class this year, I wanted to go ahead and look at a guy that is in that second tier who could be a late third or early fourth round pick. Penn State safety Marcus Allen fits in that second tier placement and someone that could be great for what Cincinnati needs.
Allen’s best playstyle is a downhill bruiser who attacks the run game. Playing like a linebacker, he was always around the ball and usually the one doing the hitting. Allen led Penn State’s defense last season with110 tackles (6 for a loss), also recording 3 pass break-ups, a forced fumble, and a blocked kick in his 14 starts. Earning third-team all-conference selection by coaches in 2016 for his consistent ability to be around the ball.
This is a kid that needs some development at safety and working on his coverage skills and speed but can play some hybrid linebacker roles for Cincinnati while keeping safeties George Iloka and Shawn Williams up high. The Bengals will be using more three-safety sets in their new defense in 2018 and this is a good fit. Letting Allen develop some more in his rookie year while Cincinnati has two quality veterans starting ahead of him.
With Allen’s best game being a downhill thumper in the run game, it could help the Bengals put a stop to the constant bleed of the run game. Cincinnati ranked 30th against the run in yards per game last season and need some thumpers like Allen to move in the right direction.
Oklahoma tackle Orlando Brown
Many fans tend to look at the combine performance of Oklahoma tackle Orlando Brown and already have written him off. The problem with doing that is when you look at the tape, the talent is there. He saw his draft stock drop significantly following his poor combine and pro day workouts. He lacks the athleticism that teams want from tackles but his size and length are rare.
Brown is going to need some development at the next level if he ever wants to become a full-time starter at tackle. While playing left tackle in college, Brown is likely going to have to move over to right tackle wherever he lands which is something he doesn’t want to do but might have to. His limitations make it hard for him to recover when he’s been beaten. Fortunately, Brown can use his size and length to his advantage to rarely be beaten.
Standing at 6’8″ and 360 pounds, Brown is a massive obstacle for defenders to get around. Add in the fact he has 35″ long arms and even if you can top him with speed, his arms will likely grab you as you try and go around him. His arm length is his biggest help with his limited athleticism and makes it extremely hard to get off his block. Once he gets a hand on you, Brown knows how to use his size to keep defenders in place. He’s also good at getting a quick jump on the defender right off the snap getting the first contact and not letting go.
ESPN’s Todd McShay has talked to multiple teams that are still considering Brown a second-round talent. While the numbers at the combine were poor, his play at Oklahoma was much better. In a draft class with few talented offensive tackles, Brown could be a good grab in the third round if Cincinnati can’t grab McGlinchey in the first.