The Cincinnati Bengals are heading into the 2017 NFL Draft with quite a few needs. Near the top of the list is finding some young guys who can put pressure on the quarterback. Cincy’s 2016 pass rush wasn’t the worst in the league (33 sacks, tied for 19th in the NFL), but averaging just over two sacks a game won’t cut it when you’re in the same division as Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco.
You need to apply lots of pressure. Think the head-in-a-vice scene from Casino. The Bengals have some people who can get the job done in DE Carlos Dunlap and DT Geno Atkins. The issue, though, is consistency. Dunlap doesn’t have it. He was kept away from the QB in half of the games last year and only registered half a sack in two other contests. Atkins spends much of the time double-teamed. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s squad needs to be able to bring the heat from all angles on all downs.
The Cincinnati Bengals can take a big step in improving their pass rush by landing one of these college studs on April 27.
Top Defensive Ends for the Cincinnati Bengals
1. Myles Garrett – Garrett graded out the highest of these three at the NFL Combine (7.63). That isn’t surprising when you consider his production at Texas A&M. He racked up 47 tackles for loss in three years and made All-America teams each time. He had eight multi-sack games in college. Garrett also brings toughness to the table. During his freshman year, he tore ligaments in his hand in the sixth game and still amassed 11.5 sacks. Garrett may not be available when the Bengals pick at 9 but if they trade up or he slides he’s a “no brainer”.
2. Solomon Thomas – Solomon Thomas only played at Stanford for two years but made a considerable impact for the Cardinals. He took the Pac-12 by storm in 2016, piling up 62 stops, 8 sacks, and 15 tackles for loss on his way to winning conference player of the year. He managed two TFLs and a sack in the Rose Bowl against Iowa, so he doesn’t get jittery when playing on a big stage. The NFL Combine site lists him as a top-10 pick. Cincinnati has number 9. Just sayin …
3. Derek Barnett – Bengals fans wouldn’t mind seeing Barnett trade one shade of orange for another. The former University of Tennessee consensus All-American set the school record for career sacks with 33, to go along with 52 tackles for loss. At 6-3, 259 with 4.88 speed, he’s got the beef and burst to challenge NFL-sized offensive tackles. He is known for having a nonstop motor, strong hands, and an on-field temper that could warm up Paul Brown Stadium in January. And with his help, the Bengals could be playing then.