The Cincinnati Bengals seem to be stagnating. Over the past three seasons, the Bengals have a combined 19-28-1 record after five straight seasons of making the playoffs.
In free agency, most of the team’s signings were their own players. Linebacker Preston Brown, cornerback Darqueze Dennard, tight end Tyler Eifert, right tackle Bobby Hart, and tight end C.J. Uzomah all re-signed with the Bengals. The team’s biggest splash was signing guard John Miller to a three-year contract. None of this is very exciting. Oh, and the Bengals are continuing to roll with Andy Dalton at quarterback.
What is different? That would be new head coach Zac Taylor, who was hired after just a season as Sean McVay’s quarterbacks coach in Los Angeles. It’s a bold hire, considering Taylor was an assistant wide receivers coach for the Rams two years ago. But it could pay off and reinvigorate a franchise that has gone dull the past three seasons.
The Bengals have an opportunity to add more excitement to the team in the draft. To see if he can find actual new talent for the Bengals in the SB Nation NFL writers’ mock draft is Jason Marcum of Cincy Jungle.
11. Cincinnati Bengals: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
Marcum: The Bengals have put themselves in a position where they’ll be just about forced to take a linebacker within their first two selections, both of which are in the top 50. The good news is Bush is the second-best one behind only Devin White in this draft, and getting either with the 11th pick will be a big upgrade to arguably the weakest position on the roster.
Bush possesses the kind of speed and athleticism this defense badly needs at every linebacker spot right now. And Bush brings an added dimension as a pass rusher who can get pressure off the edge or up the middle. He can also hold up in coverage against tight ends, something that was rarely said of any linebacker in the Marvin Lewis era.
Bush would be a Day 1 starter who gives a major boost to a defense that’s got a wealth of talent everywhere else. He could be the missing key to getting this unit over the hump.
Analysis: Being forced into a position, especially early in the draft, is never a good thing. But Marcum is correct about where Cincinnati finds itself leading up to the draft. That’s extremely risky. If the Bengals don’t take a linebacker here, it’s possible they miss out on someone like Mack Wilson of Alabama at No. 42. After that, it’s hard to argue a linebacker in the first two rounds, with Devin White of LSU being the obvious other exception.
Top five remaining players:
- 8. Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
- 10. Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
- 12. Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan
- 13. Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
- 14. Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State
Coming up at 3 p.m. ET today is Evan Western of Acme Packing Company making the first of two picks for the Green Bay Packers.
What grade do you give the pick of Devin Bush by the Cincinnati Bengals?
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