Could draft-day run on CBs affect Bengals?

May, 6, 2014
May 6
9:15
AM ET
The question posed above is one I can assure you the Cincinnati Bengals have thought about a few times during this incredibly long draft process, and it's one that could surface Thursday night.

In his latest mock draft that appeared Monday, ESPN draft insider Todd McShay crafted a 32-pick scenario that was heavy on corners, putting the Bengals at No. 24 into a bit of a bind with their pick.

[+] EnlargeJason Verrett
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsJason Verrett had a productive career at TCU, but he lacks prototypical measurables.
McShay's Mock 6.0 requires ESPN Insiders access, so for the non-subscribers I can only say this about it: when Cincinnati's pick comes up, the draft's top 3 cornerbacks -- Darqueze Dennard, Justin Gilbert and Kyle Fuller -- are all gone. A pair of highly valued receivers and safeties were gone, too. As was outside linebacker Ryan Shazier.

So who did the Bengals end up taking?

McShay went with the speedy Jason Verrett. Part of me really likes the pick simply because of what I've seen from Verrett and what I've heard about him. Maybe I just like fast players who have a tendency to be undervalued primarily because they're a little shorter or weigh less than some of their counterparts. (Now you know a reason why I liked Andrew Hawkins so much.) Maybe I just like a good underdog. I believe Verrett's blue-collar persona and physical tools are a rare combination. I personally believe he'll have a fulfilling career, wherever that is.

Having said all of that, I'm not so sure the Bengals automatically draft Verrett at 24 just because all of the other corners are gone. The more I've thought about it, the more I believe such a move could scream panic. And the Bengals' draft philosophy the past four years has been anything but panic. The team has made shrewd, calculated moves that at times might not make much sense, but in the end, typically prove to be the right ones.

While adding Verrett would address a need, he wouldn't necessarily address an immediate impact need. For now he's a slot corner, one who would be good to have as an insurance policy in case something happens to Leon Hall. When it comes to playing corner on the outside, though, he could be a year or two away. With boundary corner Terence Newman potentially retiring after this season, the Bengals likely will need an outside corner sooner than they will need someone to take over in the slot.

Still, that doesn't diminish my man-crush on Verrett.

So if the Bengals don't go with Verrett at 24, who might they pick in a draft where cornerbacks come off the board quickly? They instead will turn to the best player available and pick the most athletic player who best suits their other needs. And no, at No. 24, Teddy Bridgewater is not that player. No quarterback is, for that matter.

One name that has kind of dropped off the radar who I could see at No. 24 is defensive end Dee Ford from Auburn. He has impressive game tape and turned heads at the combine in February. He also could be a good fit as a rush end in the Bengals' multiple defense that figures to have a heavy emphasis on getting ends and outside linebackers regularly into the backfield. He could also aid in depth at end, particularly as the franchise starts looking for players to pair with Margus Hunt and Carlos Dunlap. Veteran Robert Geathers, who was slowed by a serious injury last year, turns 31 during training camp and could be nearing the end of his career.

Ford was still available on McShay's mock draft board at 24. UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr also was surprisingly still on McShay's board.

It's just something else to ponder as we enter the two-minute drill of the pre-draft process.

Coley Harvey

ESPN Cincinnati Bengals reporter

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