When I was a teenager growing up in Pittsburgh, the NFL Draft was my favorite thing about the NFL. There was something about the idea of creating a new roster that was alluring. It’s why when playing Madden, I simulated the regular season just to get to the draft. I could get through entire decades in a weekend. As I grew older, I coalesced whatever knowledge comes with simulating dozens of Madden seasons, watching college football intently, and reading all the NFL Draft coverage I could stomach into my own spreadsheets. If YouTube had been created, you can bet I would’ve ripped through every highlight reel, horrible background music be damned.
Those spreadsheets were my personal big boards, and I was convinced my ardent research was just as rigorous as anything an actual team put together. Hell, by freshman year of high school, I was ditching lunch to research prospects in the school library. (Needless to say, I had a lot of friends.)
On draft weekend, which really was just two days in the early aughts, I sat glued to the television as Chris Berman and company would spout off 90 second quips about the potential of a fourth round draft pick who could possibly contribute if he can supplant the previous year’s sixth round draft pick provided he plays less like the first round bust he supplanted and more like the second round pick that fell due to character concerns.
For the last five years, I have predicted every single Bengals draft pick, and have yet to miss a single one. (Don’t fact check me, it’s true.) Which is why, I think, it’s time to retire. My spreadsheets have dwindled in recent years, and the time that was once spent agonizing over how to evaluate FCS prospects has been replaced by agonizing over what booties to buy my dog. Priorities shift, and while I once thought that I would exist in the eternal NFL Draft Neverland with Mel Kiper as my one true savior, I now know that it’s time to retire on top. So without further ado, here is my fifth and final 100% Correct, Entirely Unassailable, Perfectly Accurate Bengals Mock Draft.
Round 1 – 21st overall
Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
In my years as a wannabe draft guru, I’ve found one constant to be true: drafting for immediate need is a sure way to screw up your future. Which is why I’m looking a year ahead. Both Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap are in the final year of their contracts, and while the team is reportedly interested in signing both before the season, I think it’s unlikely both will come back. Both Atkins and Dunlap will likely command hefty deals, and it may not be wise to invest in players that have been productive, sure, but also ages 30 (Atkins) 29 (Dunlap). At this point, you’re almost certainly paying a high future price for past production.
That’s why I’m going with Payne. He may not be around when the Bengals draft, but he’s big and strong. Geno Atkins? Also big and strong. Ipso facto, Payne = Atkins. Where else can you get this kind of analysis?
Round 2 – 46th overall
Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State
Without naming names, there are people in the media landscape who believe watching a player in person versus on TV is the equivalent to hearing a song on the radio and having a private concert in your living room. This guy just looks different in person, they say. Well, count me as one of those guys!
While freezing my ass off at a meaningless November game in Happy Valley, I watched Gesicki be taller than everyone by a sizable margin. He also ran faster than most, and caught some footballs with ease. He’s bigger than Tyler Eifert, who is also a free agent after this season, and if they are going to salvage anything from Andy Dalton’s remaining years, he’ll need more people to throw to than A.J. Green.
Round 3 – 77th overall
Brian O’Neill, OT, Pittsburgh
With a different crop of prospects, you could convince me that the Bengals would draft an offensive lineman in the first round. But after trading for Cordy Glenn, it seems more likely that they are willing to wait for someone and hope for more luck than the one-two punch of Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher.
Round 3 – 100th overall
Daurice Fountain, WR, Northern Iowa
In high school, Fountain earned the nickname “One Glove” because — get this — he brought one receiving glove to practice one day. Plus, he visited the Bengals and relayed this anecdote to The Gazette about his experience: “I’m seeing all the guys just talking and having a good time and I look right and I literally locked eyes with A.J. Green. I was instantly star-struck.” As if Mike Brown won’t command Fountain be drafted after hearing this story.
Round 4 – 112th overall
Josey Jewell, LB, Iowa
Seven of the Bengals 11 draft picks last year had a first name that started with the letter J. (And that’s not even counting J.J. Deilman twice!) Josey Jewell fills a necessary J quota.
Round 5 – 151st overall
Bo Scarbrough, RB, Alabama
Scarbrough is big, and the Bengals could use some size in the backfield to complement Joe Mixon and Gio Bernard. Also, he apparently pronounces Georgia the same way he pronounces Trump.
Round 5 – 158th overall
DeShon Elliott, S, Texas
The Bengals are known to get in a scrap from time to time. When those squabbles arise, it’s best to have someone like Elliott on your side, who is clearly ready to scrap.
Round 5- 170th overall
Chad Thomas, DE, Miami
If you think that producing tracks for Rick Ross doesn’t automatically guarantee you a spot on this crapshoot of a mock draft, you haven’t been paying attention very much over the last five years.
Round 7 – 249th overall
Tegray Scales, LB, Indiana
Scales is a Colerain grad. Cincinnati loves nothing more than sprinkling in a local guy.
Round 7 – 252nd overall
Patrick Morris, C, TCU
He can bench press 500 pounds, which is more than I can say for nature film producer Patrick Morris.
Round 7 – 253rd overall
Lowell Loutlelei, DT, Utah
You know, the Browns get all sorts of credit (I think) for landing two picks in the top four. Well, when will someone give the Bengals credit for landing THREE picks between picks 249 and 253?
Adam Flango is a now-retired NFL Draft expert.