By Kyle Johansen @kylejohansen on March 14, 2014
The Cincinnati Bengals hold the No. 24 pick in the NFL Draft and need help at cornerback and defensive end. Offensive tackle is also possible after left tackle Andrew Whitworth moved inside to guard last year and played well. The most likely scenario has Cincinnati taking a cornerback with their first-round pick, but if a top prospect who doesn’t necessary fill a need falls to them, they may end up taking the top player on their board.
Jason Verrett was considered by some to be the best cornerback in the nation at the start of the 2013 season, and he did nothing to diminish his draft stock during the year, earning Co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year before running the 40 in 4.38 seconds at the combine. Verrett had a combined 43 passes defended during his three years as a starter and features fluid hips with great change of direction skills and quick breaks on the ball.
Darqueze Dennard hurt his draft stock at the combine by running a 4.51 second 40-yard dash and looking poor during his individual drills. Dennard had long been considered one of the top cornerbacks, if not the No. 1 CB, in the draft until his performance at the combine. Dennard had 62 tackles with four interceptions for Michigan State in 2013.
Bradley Roby was considered a potential top 15 talent heading into the 2013 season but did not have the season many expected. Roby has the skills to be a No. 1 cornerback but needs to receive better coaching in order to reach his potential. Roby ran the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds at the combine and had three interceptions and 13 pass breakups in 2013.
Anthony Barr was once considered a top ten talent but has been slowly falling down draft boards recently. He’s the type of player the Bengals would love to drop to them at pick No. 24 in the first round. At 6-foot-4, 248-pounds Barr ran a 4.65 second 40-yard dash at the combine and had 20 tackles for loss with 10 sacks and five forced fumbles in 2013 for the Bruins.
Kony Ealy is an impact pass-rusher who would fill the hole left by DE Michael Johnson after he signed with Tampa Bay in free agency. Ealy is 6-foot-5, 275-pounds and has an impressive combination of size and speed that is often compared to San Francisco 49er standout Aldon Smith. Ealy looks like a natural fit in a 4-3 defense and recorded 14.5 tackles for loss with 9.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and six passes defended in 2013.
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