Best available prospects for the Bengals on Day 3

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Chris Roling
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The Cincinnati Bengals head into Day 3 of the 2021 NFL draft with seven picks, including three in the opening fourth round thanks to the trade down with New England on Friday night.

With the roster’s three biggest needs addressed, the Bengals are free to focus on the best player available at each pick, though the pass rush and offensive line still figure to be an emphasis.

Here’s a look at the top players left on the board.

RB Michael Carter, North Carolina

Jan 28, 2021; National running back Michael Carter of North Carolina (7) runs the ball during National practice at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile, Alabama, USA; Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

There are a ton of quality running backs left, which means one of the three fourth-rounders could go to one. Joe Mixon was hurt last year and Samaje Perine can’t do it himself. Carter averaged a stunning 6.6 yards per carry over four seasons and was elite as a receiver.

OL Drew Dalman, Stanford

Nov 30, 2019; Stanford, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal center Drew Dalman (51) congratulates wide receiver Brycen Tremayne (81) after a touchdown catch during the first quarter against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

A zone-scheme specialist who was the son of a former player and coach, Dalman checks all the boxes for a Bengals-type selection. He’s not the biggest, but wins with technique and effort, which could make him a sleeper candidate to win a job inside.

Edge Chris Rumph, Duke

Nov 7, 2020; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils defensive end Chris Rumph II (96) during the second quarter against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Wallace Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

An explosive, explosive athlete, Rumph’s pro position is hard to pin down. But that could be a plus in Cincinnati’s multiple front as they unleash him on a rotational basis. He’s got huge upside.

OL Trey Smith, Tennessee

Tennessee offensive lineman Trey Smith (73) walks off the field for the final time after a SEC game between the Tennessee Volunteers and the Texas A&M Aggies held at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn., on Saturday, December 19, 2020.
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It’s a little shocking Smith hasn’t come off the board yet. He’s massive and has all the tools to start at guard as a rookie -- which would be quite the steal for a Bengals team that needs as much competition as it can get.

DL Jay Tufele, USC

Sep 29, 2018; Tucson, AZ, USA; Southern California Trojans defensive lineman Jay Tufele (78) runs onto the field before the first half against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals need a Geno Atkins replacement and the USC product might just be that. He’s got the right size and explosiveness off the line to at least make a rotational difference as a rookie while being groomed for much more.

OT James Hudson, Cincinnati

Jan 1, 2021; Atlanta, GA, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats offensive lineman James Hudson (55) shows emotion after being ejected for targeting against the Georgia Bulldogs in the second quarter of the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Bengals fans should know all about Hudson, whose struggles in pass protection sets at times are something Frank Pollack could clean up. He’s a mauler in the running game who could battle for a starting job.

OL Deonte Brown, Alabama

Jan 28, 2021; American offensive lineman Deonte Brown of Alabama (65) drills against American offensive lineman Jack Anderson of Texas Tech (56) during American practice at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile, Alabama, USA; Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Another shocker of a faller along the offensive line, Brown is a massive 6’3” and 344 pounds of SEC bully material out of Alabama who could come in and fix a guard spot pretty quickly.

DL Daviyon Nixon, Iowa

Dec 5, 2020; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon (54) reacts after sacking Illinois Fighting Illini quarterback Brandon Peters (not pictured) during the second half at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Nixon feels like one of the more underrated players in this class. He was constantly slipping past linemen to apply pressure up the middle and he’s got enough athleticism and power to suggest he could keep on doing that in the NFL.

OL Stone Forsythe, Florida

Sep 26, 2020; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Florida Gators offensive lineman Stone Forsythe (72) during the game against the Mississippi Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Get this -- Forsythe is 6’8” and 307 pounds. Oh, and his dad played the line for the Bengals and elsewhere. While he struggles in the running game, a team could slap him on the edge and feel pretty comfortable he’ll contain edge rushers.

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