Analyzing Kiper Mock 4.0: Bengals

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
The NFL draft is exactly three weeks away. When the Cincinnati Bengals make their first pick, they'll do so late in the first round at No. 24 overall.

They have needs at cornerback, quarterback, outside linebacker, safety, defensive end and on the offensive line. They also could add a running back or receiver at some point during the draft. Just whom will they wind up selecting with their picks in the first two rounds? ESPN's Mel Kiper has made his predictions. His second-round pick is a player who once had a first-round projection.

In his latest mock draft, unveiled Thursday morning, Kiper sent Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio to Cincinnati with the 55th overall pick. A key player on the Crimson Tide's offensive line the last three years, Kouandjio drew attention early in the draft process as a possible first-rounder. Currently, he ranks sixth in ESPN's ranking of offensive tackles. He also has a grade of 88. The top-regarded player at the position, Auburn's Greg Robinson, has a 97 grade.

As he did in his "Grade: A" mock, and as fellow ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay did in his Mock 4.0, Kiper picked Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby to be the Bengals' pick at No. 24. (More on him further down.)

Kouandjio's size alone makes him an enticing prospect. He's 6-foot-6 and weighs 322 pounds. The fact that he helped block for an SEC offense as productive as Alabama's makes him that much more attractive.

What makes it unlikely that the Bengals use their second-round pick on him, though, are some of the off-field intangibles. Namely, his health.

Kouandjio had a serious knee injury in 2011 that ended his season barely midway through the year. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, at the combine several teams failed Kouandjio's medical charts after deeming one of his knees arthritic because of a failed surgery. Kouandjio also had shoulder surgery last spring. That's not quite as alarming as the knee, though, because offensive linemen often go through offseason shoulder surgery in college.

The Bengals do have a fondness for SEC athletes, having drafted more players from the conference in the 11 years Marvin Lewis has been head coach than players from other conferences. But to use a second-round pick on a player with a shaky medical background, at a position that still could have other talent on the board? I'm just not sure that happens. Then again, if the Bengals want a good offensive tackle, maybe that is the time to pick him. Past Kouandjio, the pickings get slim rather quickly. And judging from the rest of Kiper's mock, he would be the best available tackle at No. 55.

Personally, I just think a defensive end such as Missouri's Kony Ealy -- who still would be available in Kiper's mock -- would make for a better value pick in the second round.

As for Roby, he's becoming the popular first-round pick for the Bengals. Multiple mock drafts of late have him coming to Cincinnati. He's a long, athletic cornerback who happens to have obvious strong ties to southwest Ohio because of his time at Ohio State. He's regarded as the third-best corner in the draft and carries an 89 grade.

Other than his 4.39 time in the 40-yard dash, he didn't have the greatest showing at the combine in February and has earned a reputation for being a bit of a gambler at corner. It will be interesting to see how that trait fits in with a Bengals secondary that would be looking for him to contribute cursorily this season, before emerging as a possible starter the next.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter



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