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Thursday, April 24, 2014
Analyzing McShay mock: Bengals

By Coley Harvey

After winning the AFC North and claiming a third consecutive playoff berth last season, the Cincinnati Bengals earned themselves a low first-round pick in this year's draft. Two weeks from Thursday, they will select 24th.

They have needs all over the secondary, with cornerbacks and safeties likely high on their priority list. Outside linebackers might also be coveted, as could running backs, defensive ends, offensive linemen and quarterbacks.

ESPN draft insider Todd McShay has been among those trying to figure out who the Bengals will take in the first round. In his latest mock draft Insider, released Thursday, McShay made a choice for Cincinnati that some Bengals fans might be glad to see.

In this mock, McShay is making picks he would make, not predicting what he thinks the team would do. His choice for the Bengals is cornerback Kyle Fuller.

Fuller has been a favorite of Bengals fans for much of this draft cycle. Not only did he impress at the NFL combine in February, but he also has the size and versatility that seems like a good fit for the Bengals. At 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, he isn't the biggest cornerback, but he has speed that suggests he should have few problems keeping up with NFL receivers, and is considered an asset against the run.

Ranked fourth among cornerback prospects, Fuller's strengths are his discipline, leadership skills and work ethic, according to his scouting report from Scouts Inc. He's also noted for being a playmaker and boldly making breaks on the ball.

McShay's previous mock draft had the Bengals taking Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby with the 24th pick. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. also has been high on Roby of late, sending him to the Bengals in recent mock drafts.

It seems plausible that Cincinnati will be drafting a cornerback, primarily because that part of the secondary is up in age. Terence Newman is 35 and entering the final year of his contract. Free agents Danieal Manning and R.J. Stanford were signed to one-year deals, and might not be in the Bengals' locker room next year. Manning is 31. Adam Jones, who is two years short of free agency, is 30. Leon Hall turns 30 during the 2014 season.

The Bengals need youth in their defensive backfield, and it makes sense to bring in a player with potential like Fuller appears to have. If Fuller isn't on the board when the Bengals pick, the next logical choice would be TCU's Jason Verrett. He's a smaller cornerback who could play in the slot and on the outside. He's also quite fast. His 4.38 40-yard dash was topped at the combine only by Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert, who ran a 4.37. Gilbert likely will be off the board when the Bengals make their first-round pick.