A case for Bengals drafting Nelson Agholor

NFL Nation mock draft: Bengals select WR Nelson Agholor

Bengals reporter Coley Harvey breaks down his first-round selection.

BRISTOL, Conn. -- With the 21st pick in the NFL Nation mock draft the Cincinnati Bengals select ...

A player who isn't an offensive tackle.

If you've followed along with ESPN's Bengals coverage the past few months, no doubt you've read a lot about offensive and defensive linemen and edge rushers, and how players at those positions might be ideal fits for Cincinnati to take with its first-round pick.

Specifically, La'el Collins (LSU), Ereck Flowers (Miami -- Florida) and Jake Fisher (Oregon) have been among the offensive tackles worth considering. Danny Shelton (Washington), Bud Dupree (Kentucky), Randy Gregory (Nebraska) and Vic Beasley (Clemson) are some of the defensive linemen and edge rushers who similarly have been part of the Bengals' pre-draft conversations.

So it would have made sense to take one of them in the mock draft.

But here's the thing: the Bengals don't appear to be high on Collins, and nearly all of the others listed above were taken before the 21st pick arrived in the no-trades mock draft. Only Fisher and Gregory were still on the board.

They weren't the only ones available. Certain receivers were there, too.

And that's why when called upon to pick in NFL Nation's mock draft, the Bengals chose a speedy receiver from Southern California, Nelson Agholor.

In Agholor, the Bengals would get a player who could contribute right away, although it isn't necessary for Cincinnati to go for an immediate impact player with the first-round pick. With just about every position on offense and defense filled with starters, the Bengals have some flexibility where they can add a player at 21 primarily for depth. That's where taking an offensive tackle would make sense.

But what do the Bengals do if some of the offensive tackles highest on their draft board are gone?

They stick to their mantra of going after the best player available.

While Gregory could be that player, the questions about his decision-making and off-field maturity are concerning. Would the Bengals risk taking him at 21? That seems a little high. If he somehow was around at 53 when the Bengals make their second-round pick, he would be a downright steal, and must be grabbed there.

A case also could be made Agholor was the best player still available on this draft board. League insiders believe he's been undervalued in several of this year's mocks, where he's often viewed as a very late first-round or second-round pick. Scouts and coaches view him a little more favorably.

In this look at ESPN NFL analyst Jon Gruden's top-15 draft prospectsInsider (compiled by ESPN Insider Mike Sando), Agholor was among the names listed. Gruden was high on the receiver because he already participated in a pro-style scheme in college and has the ability to line up at multiple receiver spots. He also has taken back four punts for touchdowns, and the Bengals need a dynamic return option.

Gruden also credited Agholor's competitive nature as a reason he's a top prospect. If you know anything about Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, you know he wants to add competitive athletes who play with an edge. At the receiver position, one that was decimated by injuries last season, Jackson would not be opposed to bringing in a player who could help enhance the competition in the room.

Also, keep in mind, the Bengals' top three receivers (A.J. Green, Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu) are eligible for free agency next year. So adding a receiver who has the talent to be a key contributor in 2016 makes drafting a player of Agholor's stature so early quite plausible.