The Cincinnati Bengals were going to have a tough time to recreate the same buzz they generated on day two when they selected Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon and Kansas State edge rusher Jordan Willis. With most of the franchise’s day two buzz the result of an off-field incident, the Bengals were aiming for a more football oriented discussion when it came to their day three selections.
The Bengals jumped out to a great start, starting day three in the same manner they ended day two with the selection of Auburn pass rusher Carl Lawson. A familiar name who once was the topic of a possible first-second round selection, Lawson watched his draft stock slipped right into the laps of the Bengals in the fourth round.
The possibility of a checkered medical background may be the cause for his slide, the Bengals saw too much value to let Lawson slide further. While value does not always equal production, the Bengals (specifically former tackle Willie Anderson), believe Lawson can be the franchise’s version of James Harrison.
“He’s a younger. more athletic version of James Harrison,” Anderson told Bengals.com after Lawson’s selection.
The Bengals spent their two other fourth round selections on rounding out the team’s depth, selecting Tennessee wide receiver Josh Malone and Michigan defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow.
Like first round pick John Ross, Malone will add another vertical threat to the receiving core but will likely need some more seasoning before he is ready for NFL action as his route running needs some polish. On the other side of the ball, Glasgow will be another interior pass rushing asset on the Bengal’s daunted defensive line.
After a revolving door of kickers last season, the Bengals were adamant of upgrading the kicker position this offseason, a move they hope to have achieved by taking Memphis kicker Jake Elliot in the fifth round. The first kicker taken off the board, the Bengals undoubtedly have high hopes that Elliot can beat out former Steelers’ kicker Randy Bullock for the starting job this summer.
Next up, the Bengals attempt to patch the $60 million hole created by the departure of Kevin Zietler this offseason. Using their second fifth round pick on Utah’s J.J. Dielman should help alleviate some of the stress created by Zietler’s departure. A versatile player with experience at tackle and center, Dielman should compete for a primary backup role this season.
The Bengals return to the defensive side of the ball with their two sixth round selections. The first, Oklahoma linebacker Justin Evans is a likely candidate to compete for weakside linebacker position. While Evans’ athleticism is his biggest positive, his biggest weakness is his conservative play style.
NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein noted questions about Evans’ inability to finish tackles on his pre-draft profile, writing “Scouts say he turns down too many opportunities to bang when it is in front of him.” Evans sure will need to show an ability to finish as he will likely be tasked with special teams duties during his rookie season.
While the Bengals selected a grand total of nine players over day three, they saved their most interesting for one of their final spots. With their second sixth round pick, the Bengals selected Houston cornerback and/or running back Brandon Wilson. The franchise’s use of cornerback when describing Wilson may be head scratching considering even the NFL’s pre-draft page has him down as a running back, but the Bengals believe they have found a real diamond in the rough for their secondary.
Bengals secondary coach Kevin Coyle spoke of Wilson’s upside and plan to stick the former Houston athlete into the equation for nickel corner.
“He’s played all three spots, but I think he’s most comfortable playing in a nickel-type position. He’s a great blitzer. He’s very fast, very physical on the edge. He’s that type of guy. That’s why we envision that he’ll be able to compete with our guys, in terms of covering kicks and doing all those kind of things. He weighs about 200 pounds, and he’s a very fast, explosive athlete.” Coyle said during Wilson’s introductory press conference.
Buffalo tight end Mason Schreck capped off the Bengals’ long and eventful selections of day three. Not expected to be a contributor to the team this year, Schreck will likely be stashed on the team’s practice squad as a long-term project.