The Cincinnati Bengals are finishing up their draft boards and we as fans continue to debate who are the best fits at pick 21 in this year’s draft.
We continue our adventure of mock drafts this week with another three-round mock draft using Fanspeak.com. The Cincinnati Bengals needs stay the same but were addressed a bit differently in this mock. Offensive linemen went extremely fast in the top part of the first round turning me elsewhere at 21. While I was unable to get guys like Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey or Georgia guard Isaiah Wynn, I was still able to address the need with some good talent in the second and third rounds.
Each one of these mocks is simulated differently and this was a good chance to see what the Bengals should do if the first tier talent along the offensive line was gone when they picked first. All of these mocks are without trades of course so keep that in mind. If I was able to make trades these boards would look much different as I think the Bengals should bundle their picks to move up whenever they see a guy that they really like.
With that being said, let’s take a look at who I took in the first three rounds of this year’s draft in the Stripe Hype three-round mock draft 2.0.
I explained earlier how the top tier of offensive linemen went in the top half of the draft. Wynn was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens, McGlinchey was drafted by the Los Angeles Chargers, and UTEP Will Hernandez who I picked first in the first mock draft went to the Detroit Lions. Believing that one of the top centers will be there when the Bengals went second I decided to address the linebacker position with Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch.
First things first, let’s discuss the injury concern that has been circling Vander Esch. The reports started when Charlie Campbell of Walter football put out a tweet stating that he had heard from sources that teams were taking him off the draft boards because of a neck injury. Reports followed by Vander Esch’s family and the team that he was fine and there were no issues at the NFL combine.
Much of this debate has evolved from why Vander Esch wears the neck collar when playing as you can see in the photo for this article. There are players that wear these for safety and to help prevent vicious injuries to the neck as we have seen in the past. Whether there is an actual injury there has gone back and forth but it seems that teams are split on whether it is true or not. This could also be another fire setting so that he falls for a specific team.
Regardless, I drafted Vander Esch to the Bengals with the 21st overall pick in the feeling that there is not an injury concern and the team did their due diligence to find out the full story behind it. Cincinnati would finally find a linebacker that could be their long-term and can prove consistent in coverage. The team did another one-year deal in free agency this offseason signing Cincinnati Native and four-year starter for the Buffalo Bills, linebacker Preston Brown.
Vander Esch can get some time in nickel packages when the team needs someone to cover the big tight ends or running backs coming out of the backfield as a limited role while he develops the rest of his new assignments. He can also make plays in the backfield and against the run which would make him a three-down linebacker that the Bengals have been searching for. This is a player that I think has some real high potential at the next level but just needs a year or two of developing to reach that potential. With Preston Brown in the building for a year, I think it’s the perfect scenario for the young linebacker.
In the second round, I went ahead and grabbed Iowa center James Daniels who is my second favorite center in this draft class behind Arkansas center Frank Ragnow. Trying to mix it up for mock purposes I went ahead and took Daniels instead this time. Daniels is somewhat smaller build than most teams are looking for but his speed and quick contact make him worth the move. His athleticism is phenomenal and he has great ability to swing outside and block for the running game to the sideline.
Daniels has great awareness when swinging outside and takes great routes to his next block to make sure he initiates contact. He’s also extremely good at getting to the second level when staying at the center of the line and opening up run lanes for the running back through the middle. Coming out of Iowa which is known for their development of offensive linemen I think that Daniels would be a great pick if the Bengals could grab him in the second round.
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Since McGlinchey was gone in the first round where I wanted him again I decided to take Oklahoma tackle, Orlando Brown. Grading terribly at the NFL combine, Brown saw his draft stock drop significantly. I decided to watch the tape to see what he looked like in games and I came away pretty happy being able to find him in the third round. Many teams have done the same and still find him a first or second round prospect.
While he isn’t the most athletic lineman, Brown’s size and length make up for most of that. Standing at 6’8″ and 360 pounds, he has an arm length of 35″ which makes it very hard for defenders to try and run around him. He does a good job of getting ahold of defensive edge rushers and not letting go.
Brown has stated that he doesn’t want to make the move to right tackle I think that’s gonna be where he lands no matter what team takes him. If the Bengals can grab him in the third round and put him opposite of left tackle Cordy Glenn who they acquired this offseason from the Bills, this offensive line should see a big change in 2018. Adding in Daniels at the center position and I think this line looks and plays much better this season with new offensive line coach Frank Pollack.
With the last pick in the third round, I decided to go safety and draft Virginia Tech Terrell Edmunds. While most of the hype in the draft will go to his brother, Terrell would be a great pickup for the Bengals who need a versatile safety to bolster the unit. Edmunds does a great job in coverage against bigger tight ends which would help with the linebacker coverage issue if the team does instill more three-safety sets in their new scheme. This would mask some of the issues at linebacker as well considering he plays best down in the box.
He holds the high-end speed and explosion that teams covet at the position and his ability to make plays against the run game as well is a big bonus. Bringing in Edmunds helps bolster the linebackers as they would be working to develop Vander Esch a bit and keep starting safeties George Iloka and Shawn Williams up high where they play best.