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Bengals stumble in new 3-round mock from Mel Kiper and Todd McShay

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The Cincinnati Bengals figure to address the offensive line, cornerback or even edge rusher in the first round of the 2022 NFL draft at No. 31.

While the Bengals do sit in a position of luxury as a Super Bowl team and can take best player available, the needs and makeup of the draft class itself seem to narrow it down to those spots.

But a new mock draft from ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay has a different idea for the Bengals at No. 31 — Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd:

“I originally thought hard about Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum here, but Lloyd’s slide out of the top 30 forced my hand. Lloyd impacts the game in so many ways, and he could be the long-term answer in the middle of the Bengals’ defense.”

Lloyd is a really good prospect who can likely be an effective blitzer atop everything else at the next level. Linebacker depth is a need too despite the presence of guys like Akeem Davis-Gaither, but this is something the team likely addresses later in the draft, not in the opening round at the expense of bigger needs.

And it doesn’t get much better with the next two picks, either:

  • 63. Phidarian Mathis, DT, Alabama

  • 95. Josh Jobe, CB, Alabama

Mathis is more of a run-stopper, at least projection-wise, when the Bengals need to fill the interior pass-rusher void left by Larry Ogunjobi. Jobe, at least, looks like he can fill the need on the boundary and maybe even work at safety, giving the team another Tre Flowers-esque versatile presence in the secondary.

Still, overall in this scenario, the Bengals use a first-rounder on what is already a position of strength and ignore a premium issue like pass-rusher outright while waiting on another premium one, cornerback.

Could this class work out as a long-term upgrade to the defense? Absolutely, but the initial grades and reaction might be lukewarm at best. If nothing else, it’s a scenario to keep in mind.

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