We’re inside of one week until the 2018 NFL Draft, where the Cincinnati Bengals have 11 picks to help them build a better roster and improve from last year’s 7-9 season.
In my first two mock drafts I had the team selecting a tackle in the first round, and I’m sticking with it for my final mock.
Center, safety and linebacker also will be in play, but even with the acquisition of Cordy Glenn from the Buffalo Bills, drafting a tackle at 21 makes the most sense if one of the top two on the Bengals board are available, and I think they will be.
They will get their center, safety and linebacker in the ensuing rounds.
Here’s my seven-round mock draft:
Round 1, Pick 21
Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
The only question with this pick is whether McGlinchey lasts until the 21st pick. Most analysts regard McGlinchey as the top tackle in the draft, and the last time the no tackle was taken in the first 20 picks was 1971 (although Garett Bolles was the first off the board last year at No. 20).
The Bengals got their left tackle with the trade for Glenn. At right tackle, they still have questions. Can Bobby Hart can revive his career? Is Jake Fisher’s heart issue behind him? Will the light finally go on for Cedric Ogbuehi?
Drafting McGlinchey could render all those questions moot.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION: Like our Cincinnati Bengals News Now Facebook page
Round 2, Pick 14 (46th overall)
James Daniels, C, Iowa
The only player on the Bengals roster who has played center in a game is T.J. Johnson, who replaced briefly benched starter Russell Bodine for 15 snaps in Week 12 two years ago.
Bodine signed a free-agent deal with Buffalo last month after starting every game the last four years, leaving a glaring hole in an already suspect offensive line. Daniels, who was the first true freshman to play on the Iowa offensive line since 2007, is a plug-and-play replacement.
Round 3, Pick 13 (77th overall)
Justin Reid, S, Stanford
Starting safeties George Iloka and Shawn Williams are under contract through 2020 after signing sizable extensions a couple of years ago, but the Bengals have made it clear they are looking to upgrade the position with a player who has excellent ball skills.
Reid fits that model and also plays physical at the line of scrimmage against the run. The biggest question will be whether he falls this far. If he does, the Bengals won’t be able to get the pick in quick enough.
Round 3, Pick 36 (100th overall)
Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma
All three tight ends who were on the 53-man roster last year – Tyler Eifert, Tyler Kroft and C.J. Uzomah – are in the final year of their contract.
Andrews won the John Mackey Award, presented to the nation’s top tight end, and has the look of today’s field-stretching NFL tight end.
Round 4, Pick 12 (112th overall)
Christian Sam, LB, Arizona State
A poor man’s Roquan Smith, Sam is a sideline-to-sideline pursuer who not only has good upside but could push to be Vontaze Burfict’s fill-in during the four-game suspension to start the season.
Scouts love his toughness and intelligence in addition to his speed.
Round 5, Pick 14 (151st overall)
Nick Nelson, CB, Wisconsin
The trend of taking first-round corners every even year may have ended, but the Bengals aren’t going to ignore the position completely, not after declining the option of Pacman Jones’ contract as Darqueze Dennard enters the final year of his deal.
Nelson doesn’t have ideal speed, height or length, but the three-year starter for the Badgers is fiery and physical and continually produces.
Round 5, Pick 21 (157th overall)
Antonio Callaway, WR, Florida
Wide receiver falls low on the list of priorities for the Bengals, but this pick would be all about value.
Callaway doesn’t have John Ross speed, but he’s a fast receiver who can be an explosive playmaker for an offense desperately in need of them.
BENGALS DRAFT POSITION PREVIEWS
Round 5, Pick 33 (170th overall)
Tony Adams, G, North Carolina State
A four-year starter for the Wolfpack, Adams fulfills the Bengals’ desire to add depth on the interior offensive line. He only played right guard for N.C. State but repped at center in practice, making him an even more attractive pick for the Bengals.
Round 7, Pick 31 (249th overall)
John Atkins, DT, Georgia
Drafting defensive tackles named ‘Atkins’ from Georgia has worked out for the Bengals in the past.
But unlike elite pass-rusher Geno Atkins, whom the Bengals got in the fourth round in 2010, John Atkins is more of a run plugger, which is something the Bengals will be targeting in this draft.
Round 7, Pick 34 (252nd overall)
Tre Flowers, S, Oklahoma State
The Bengals have a history of using late picks on defensive backs. Flowers was a four-year starter for the Cowboys in the pass-happy Big 12, giving him a solid base for Bengals coaches to work with in camp.
Round 7, Pick 35 (253rd overall)
Martez Carter, RB, Grambling State
He has versatility as a runner, receiver and returner. With Pacman Jones gone and Alex Erickson coming off a pedestrian season as a returner, Carter could carve out a role similar to that of Tarik Cohen in Chicago.