Cincinnati Bengals Host Visit from Elite Big 10 Defender to Close Out Pre-Draft Window

There has understandably been a lot of speculation regarding who the Cincinnati Bengals are going to draft this offseason.  Going into the offseason, the two greatest needs on the roster have been offensive and defensive tackle after losing star players D.J. Reader and Jonah Williams to free agency this offseason.  After signing defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins and offensive tackle Trent Brown, the prediction has become much harder to make down the stretch.

Cincinnati Bengals Host Visit from Elite Big 10 Defender to Close Out Pre-Draft Window

Cincinnati Bengals Host Elite Defender on Friday Afternoon

While I have been resolute that the organization should draft talented offensive tackle, J.C. Latham , there has been wild speculation that the organization will go in the opposite direction and draft a defensive tackle.  As a major example, ESPN NFL Insider Mel Kiper Jr. recently depicted the franchise taking Byron Murphy II in his most recent mock draft and many analysts have hopped on that bandwagon.  On top of that, the one thing I have learned from watching the Bengals draft over the years is that they have a tendency to think they know better than the analysts.

Cincinnati refuted the analysts once again on Friday when they brought in University of Illinois standout defensive lineman Jer’Zhan Newton for a visit.  Newton is a 6’2″, 295-pound 3-technique lineman who managed 7.5 sacks last season for the Fighting Illini in one of the most competitive collegiate divisions in the country.  He is currently ranked as the second-best tackle behind Murphy as Murphy is ranked as the 16th-best overall prospect while Newton is ranked 21st.

After watching the tape on Newton, the common comparison between him and longtime Bengals legend Geno Atkins makes total sense.  Newton is renowned for having a solid pop in his pads and even though he doesn’t show top-end athleticism or size, he uses solid leverage to beat larger defenders and rush the passer.  Newton has tremendous hand and foot speed that makes life difficult for interior guards to establish proper pass sets.

While I do like Newton as a player, I believe he is a terrible fit for the organization as they currently lie.  After signing Rankins just a few weeks ago, Cincinnati currently has two starting quality 3-technique tackles on their roster who both make over $10 million per season and also have struggled against the rushing attack.  Newton would step in as the exact type of player: a potentially elite pass-rushing 3-technique who may end up being a total liability against the rushing attack.

Cincinnati has landed themselves in a tough position where they are in desperate need of a true nose tackle with only one suitable candidate available in the entire draft.  University of Texas defensive tackle T’Vondre Sweat appears to be destined for a second or third-round pick and using a first-round selection on him would be a complete waste.  The franchise would do well to pass on Newton and find a player that would fit the team’s needs better in both the short and long term.

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