5 NFL Draft Prospects Who Could Be Instant Starters For Cincinnati Bengals
5 NFL Draft Prospects Who Can Make Immediate Impact For Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals are one of the more complete teams in the NFL, but they are not without holes that can be filled in the upcoming NFL Draft. The Bengals' offensive line is only average and will need to be upgraded in order for quarterback Andy Dalton to stretch his abilities far enough to succeed in the playoffs. On the defensive side of the ball, Cincinnati will be looking to upgrade the line and the defensive backfield due in part to injury and free agency.
As Terrance Newman turns 36 and Adam Jones turns 31 in September, cornerback is a position the Bengals may look to inject with youth. Former first-round pick Leon Hall has also torn his Achilles twice in the past three years and may never be the player he once was. How quickly starting defensive tackle Geno Atkins can return to action will also have a significant impact on the Bengals defense. As Atkins remains a question mark, the Bengals will look to bring in some young defensive linemen in the upcoming draft.
The Bengals were strong in all three phases last year and should be the odds-on favorite to win the AFC North again in 2014. However, their roster is far from perfect, and with a few hits in the draft the Bengals can reinvigorate themselves for another playoff run. Maybe this will finally be the year they get past the first round. The following are five players who could start immediately for the Bengals in 2014.
5. Bryan Stork, C
The Bengals' current center, Kyle Cook, does not deserve to be a starting center in the NFL, and the Bengals can make an immediate upgrade to their offensive line by spending a second or third round pick on Florida State center Bryan Stork. Stork is both strong as a run-blocker and in pass-protection, paving the way for a juggernaut Florida State offense in their National Championship winning season. Stork is 6-foot-4, 312-pounds, and with the coaching he received at Florida State he should be able to fit in immediately with the Bengals offense.
4. Jason Verrett, CB
Jason Verrett was considered one of the top two or three cornerbacks in college football and was at times referred to as the best corner in the college game during the 2013 season. But his draft stock has fallen due to concerns over his size. Those who watched Verrett play for TCU in 2013 would never have thought he was undersized, though, as Verrett had 14 passes defended this past season and looked like a heat-seeking missile as he went after the ball. Verrett could go as high as the end of the first-round all the way down to the fourth-round depending on how teams view him. Whoever is the first to take a chance on him will be rewarded.
3. Ra'Shede Hageman, DT
Bengals star defensive tackle Geno Atkins will be rehabbing his torn ACL and will be a question mark entering the 2014 season. Other than Atkins, the Bengals do not have an impact player at defensive tackle. Ra’Shede Hageman is a beast of a man, standing at 6-foot-6, 318-pounds. Hageman did it all for Minnesota in 2013, demanding frequent double teams but still finding time for 13 tackles for loss, seven pass breakups, one interception and two sacks. Lining up Hageman next to a healthy Geno Atkins would simply be scary for opposing offensive lines. Hageman has power and explosion but needs to be more consistent which may cause him to slip to the second-round of the NFL Draft.
2. Stephon Tuitt, DE
With Michael Johnson likely leaving via free agency, the Bengals will be looking for a new defensive end to line up opposite of Carlos Dunlap. Similar to Ra’Shede Hageman, Stephon Tuitt is a massive player at 6-foot-6, 320-pounds and could line up at both defensive end and at defensive tackle. Tuitt had nine tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks in 2013 for Notre Dame, and his versatility gives the Bengals a potential starter at two different positions. To acquire Tuitt, the Bengals will likely have to select him with their first-round pick.
1. Taylor Lewan, LT
With Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews and Auburn’s Greg Robinson likely off the board, the Bengals could use the No. 24 overall pick on Taylor Lewan to be their new left tackle. The 6-foot-8, 302-pound Lewan was a starter as a freshman and has spent the past four years as Michigan’s left tackle. He also has room to grow into his massive frame.