2015 Cincinnati Bengals Mock Draft V.1

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts

 

The Cincinnati Bengals season again ended in a first round playoff loss and disappointment. The Bengals lost to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday and it is now time for them to move onto the offseason and the draft. The defense was really down this year, mainly coming from a lack of a pass rush. They finished last in the NFL with 20 sacks, a number which must be improved upon. Not only was the defensive line a disappointment this year, but injuries at the linebacker position really put them in a hole. They need to improve on depth and overall talent at linebacker. On the offensive side of the ball, injuries to their outside playmakers made it hard for them to get anything going in the playoffs. Depth is needed there along with someone who can potentially push perennially disappointing Andy Dalton. Here is my first look at the 2015 Cincinnati Bengals mock draft.

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1. Shilique Calhoun, Defensive End, Michigan State

The Bengals have to drastically improve their pass rush this offseason and Calhoun can certainly help with that. Calhoun possesses a good speed rush with some power. He will need to continue to add muscle but can already hold up against the run well. He plays the edges well and is smart against the run, keeping plays inside of him. He shows a good flexibility and the ability to bend around the edge to get around tackles. He plays well in space and could potentially be able to drop into short zones. Is very long and uses his length very well. Still needs to develop more pass rush moves and add muscle to improve his bull rush. He could come in right away and contribute and potentially start opposite Carlos Dunlap. He could add some pass rush that the Bengals severely lack.

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2. Denzel Perryman, Linebacker, Miami

Perryman is an excellent run defender, something that the Bengals really struggled with this year. Perryman is a very instinctual defender who is always around the ball, whether that is against the run or the pass. He gets off blocks extremely well and is a sure tackler. At time he will go for the big hit and lower his head, but more often than not is a very sure tackler. He gets into the backfield very well and makes a lot of plays behind the line of scrimmage. He is very difficult for lineman to block and keep a block on him.  He blitzes well and is strong enough to get off blocks and get to the quarterback. He needs to work on being in space and in coverage and may be a two-down linebacker to start his career. However, he has the athletic ability to improve in coverage and be a three-down linebacker. He could step in immediately and be the starting inside linebacker for the Bengals and immediately improve their run defense.

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3. Gabe Wright, Defensive Tackle, Auburn

The Bengals need more talent at the defensive tackle position, Peko is aging and needs to be replaces while Devon Still has never developed into what they hoped he would be when they took him in the second round. Geno Atkins started to regain some of his form later in the year as his knee had more time to heal and Brandon Thompson looks to be a good run stuffer. Gabe Wright would add more pass rush from the defensive tackle position. He has an extremely quick first step and gets into his gap extremely quick. Wright uses his hands very well to get past offensive linemen. Wright has to work on keeping his eyes up and on the ball though. Wright at times rushed up field too quick and loses sight of the ball. Wright will likely start as a rotational pass rusher for the Bengals, but has three-down ability. He is a good insurance policy in case Atkins gets hurt again or just doesn’t become what he was.

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4. Clive Walford, Tight End, Miami

Miami has been a tight end factory in the recent past and Walford is the latest in a line of talented players. Tyler Eifert should be back from injury this year for the Bengals but Jermaine Gresham is a free agent and may not be back. If he isn’t the Bengals need someone to pair with Eifert in their two tight end sets. Walford is a former basketball player who has shown excellent receiving ability. He is athletic and can get down the seam in a hurry to challenge defenses down the field. Has shown good hands and the ability to go up and get the ball. He can line up inline or split out wide. He isn’t a great blocker yet, but did improve as the year went on. It’s something he will have to continue to work on. He has had some issues with drops, but has shown overall good hands. Suffered a torn MCL late in the year, but should be back in time for the combine. Could step in and be the Bengals number two tight end right away and be a big weapon for Andy Dalton.

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5. Brandon Bridge, Quarterback, Southern Alabama

Andy Dalton may not be the answer at quarterback and they don’t have anyone on the roster who can push him or take over for him at the moment. Brandon Bridge is a big, athletic quarterback much in the mold of another second round pick in 2011, Colin Kaepernick. Bridge is a tall, athletic quarterback who has a rocket for an arm. He can throw into any window and make any throw on the football field. He can take off and pick up first-downs and big yards with ease. He can avoid a rush and keeps his eyes up field well, breaking arm tackles to keep a play alive. He needs to develop some touch to his throws, often throwing the ball too hard. Will stare down his receivers at times, alerting defensive backs where to go. Bridge will need at least a year to learn and get acclimated to the game still. Luckily for the Bengals Dalton has one more year before he can be cut for no money. Bringing Bridge in and letting him learn before challenging Dalton makes perfect sense.

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6. Jamison Crowder, Wide Receiver/Returner, Duke

As we watched the Bengals playoff game, we all realized they need some more depth at the wide receiver position. Jamison Crowder will likely be overlooked by many because of his small size, however that would be a mistake. Crowder is a dynamic playmaker with the ball in his hands. Crowder is a very good route runner, which makes him an even more dynamic yards after catch player. His crisp routes get him open in space and allow him to pick up big chunks of yards after the catch. He can make big plays down field, but his lack of size can make it difficult for quarterbacks to hit him down the field. His small size will hold him back as a big time blocker, but he is willing. He can instantly be a threat on special teams as a return man. I’m not sure he will fall this far, but in a stacked receiver class, at his size it is certainly possible. If so he can instantly take over Brandon Tates role as the return man and make an impact in the slot.

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7. Austin Shepherd, Offensive Tackle, Alabama

The Bengals need depth at the offensive tackle position. Marshall Newhouse is still on the roster, but he was terrible in the time that he played. Eric Winston is no longer on the roster, leaving just Whitworth, Smith and Hawkinson at the tackle position. Whitworth is aging and Smith was hurt to end this year. Shepherd played for one of the best teams in college football and helped open up a lot of running lanes. He has shown light feet while still showing some nice power. He has good size and long arms, but he can carry a bit to much weight from time to time. Shepherd won’t overtake either of the starters in Cincinnati, but depth along the offensive line is always needed. It’s especially needed with Whit aging and Smith often being injured.

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