The Cincinnati Bengals are a good football team. Good football teams make the playoffs five times in six years. They are not, however, a great football team, as they are 0-5 in those playoff appearances, having lost in the wild card round each time. It's a program that has been on the cusp of something great for several years running, but hasn't quite gotten over the hump yet.
How do the Bengals successfully traverse said hump and start winning once they get to the playoffs? Jason Marcum of Cincy Jungle is charged with figuring that out in our 2015 NFL mock draft, and he's eyeing up a defensive back with the No. 21 overall pick.
21. Bengals: Landon Collins, S, Alabama
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Marcum: On paper, safety looks like one of the Bengals' lesser needs heading into the draft. However, you must realize both starting safeties are set to become free agents in 2016. George Iloka is entrenched as the free safety, but his rookie deal ends next year. He could be in line for a big deal elsewhere. Then there's strong safety Reggie Nelson, who turns 32 in September, while also becoming a free agent in 2016. The only other safety that's played snaps is Shawn Williams, who has played all of 39 snaps in his first two NFL seasons since being taken in the third round out of Georgia.
That's why the Bengals use their first pick on the best safety prospect in this draft. It's more of a BPA pick that Cincinnati cannot pass up, as getting Collins at this point is a huge steal. Collins played both safety spots and started three games at dime back during three seasons at Alabama. He led the Crimson Tide with 103 tackles, three picks and 10 pass defenses this past season. He can replace the aging Nelson next year, or kick over to free safety if Iloka leaves for greener pastures. Even if both safeties are somehow retained, the Bengals will find a role somewhere in their secondary for Collins. He's just too talented to keep off the field for more than year.
Dan Kadar, SBNation.com: If the Bengals take a player like Collins, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he overtook Nelson for the starting job in his rookie season. At the least, Collins can make a big impact playing against the run. Frankly, it’s hard to see any of Cincinnati’s safeties being better than Collins. Adding to it that he’s easily the best player at his position in the draft, and this comes off as a really smart selection.
Dan's Top 5 players remaining
- 13. Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
- 15. Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
- 17. Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma
- 19. Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA
- 20. Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon
All picks from this mock draft
- 1-21: Landon Collins, S, Alabama
- 2-53: (coming April 15)
That's a wrap on our trio of picks for today. Coming up tomorrow, we have picks from the Pittsburgh Steelers, Detroit Lions, and Arizona Cardinals.
SB Nation presents: Where Landon Collins ranks among the best safeties in the draft