Fan Mock Draft: Whom should the Bengals select No. 24 overall?
It’s draft time! We’ve had our experts tell you who will be drafted where, but now it’s time for you to throw on your GM cap and decide for yourself. Each day we will present an argument for each player and why the respective team should pick him. Then, it’s up to you. You make the pick. The next day, we will compile the results and you can see who is off the board. Disagree with all of the options? Be sure to write in your pick below in the comments section. OK, let’s get into it. The Cincinnati Bengals are on the clock.
The Bengals allowed defensive end Michael Johnson, offensive tackle Anthony Collins and wide receiver Andrew Hawkins to leave via free agency this offseason. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer both left for head coaching positions.
For a team that is a consistent postseason guest, the Bengals can’t seem to figure out how to win in January. After three one-and-done postseason berths, the pressure is on.
Quarterback Andy Dalton has said that he is the face of the franchise. Ownership must decide if Dalton is the quarterback of the future and hand him a extension before his rookie deal expires or if they could stand to find an upgrade. While Dalton is one of the streakiest players at his position, he must limit his turnovers and get the ball in his best playmaker’s hands.
The defense is the strength of this team, but could use this selection to bolster their pass rush. So, who should the Bengals select No. 24 overall?
Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard
The Bengals are deep at cornerback with Dre Kirkpatrick and Terence Newman, but Dennard is free falling. Cornerback Leon Hall is returning from a torn Achilles and might need some time to completely rehab. Dennard has the accolades to back up his success on the field, as he was a unanimous first-team All American and the Jim Thorpe Award winner.
Virginia Tech CB Kyle Fuller
Fuller has been a bit of a late riser, but talent evaluators were well aware of his skillset. The Virginia Tech product has a nice blend of size, balance and anticipates opposing receiver’s routes well.
Missouri OLB Kony Ealy
The 6-foot-4, 273-pounder is an athletic freak. With a long frame, Ealy is able to track down the opposition with ease. The Bengals need someone who can get to the quarterback and Ealy is one of the most pure pass rushers in this draft. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther needs consistent threats off the edge to give Geno Atkins some opportunities to get a shot on the quarterback. You can never have too many players who can rush the passer.
Northern Illinois SS Jimmie Ward
Ward was a Thorpe Award semifinalist last season after leading his team in 92 tackles, seven interceptions and 10 passes defensed. Although he has a compact frame, he’s a quick athlete who isn’t afraid to tackle. While the team re-signed Taylor Mays and have third-year player George Iloka vying for the job, Ward could have the highest ceiling among the three players.
Virginia OT Morgan Moses
The 6-foot-6, 314-pound tackle has outstanding size and strength. While he logged 43 starts during his days at Virginia, some draft analysts have noted that he’s a developmental project. Moses could be brought along slowly as the Bengals currently have Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith holding down the tackle position.