Dave Lapham joined Dan Hoard for a draft preview on the Bengals Booth Podcast. He gave all sorts of Bengals draft tidbits, but one thing stood out to me. It wasn't who he mentioned, but who he didn't mention.
Hoard asked Lapham about Frank Ragnow, Billy Price and James Daniels – most people consider them to be the three top centers in the draft. Obviously, the Bengals are in need of a center after Russell Bodine signed with Buffalo this offseason. Instead of talking about one of the three centers mentioned above, Lapham threw a fourth name into the mix.
“Mason Cole is not a first round grade, from Michigan as a center. He played left tackle. He’s got 38 starts at left tackle, 13 at center – 51 starts, most ever for a Michigan offensive lineman. That holds weight with me," Lapham told Hoard.
He went on to discuss Price's experience with 55 collegiate starts and Daniels' upside, despite being 20 years old. Did he just forget to mention Ragnow? It's possible, but he went on to discuss all three players.
“I think they would be happy with any of those three," Lapham said. "Again, you have to evaluate: Is that a bigger need than getting another tackle? Is that a bigger need than this guy that dropped from the top 15 to us at 21? It’s not going to be unanimous. It’s going to be a split-decision. It’s not even going to be unanimous on whether it should be tackle or center. I bet you’re going to have conflicting opinions on that.”
No one's saying Ragnow isn't on the Bengals' radar. They did bring him in for a top 30 visit. The comments above do show how deep this draft is at center. They could upgrade from Bodine, but wait until the third round to do so. Last year, the Bengals wanted to add pass rushers. They did, but they waited until round three and four to do so. Center is their biggest need this year. I wouldn't be shocked if they waited to address the center spot in this draft – especially if they like Cole, who's expected to be drafted in the third or fourth round.
I haven't been shy about my thoughts with the 21st pick. I believe the Bengals are hoping Mike McGlinchey falls to them. If he does, they'll probably run to the podium, take him and worry about center on day two. Lapham thinks the run on offensive lineman could start with the Bengals.
“I could see a run happening for offensive lineman from 20-30," Lapham said. "Do the Bengals want to be at the precipice of it – start it or do they want to roll the dice and see what’s there at 46?”
It's all about draft philosophy. Should the Bengals address their biggest need at 21? Should they wait if they believe they can get one of their favorite centers later in the draft? They pass on center in the first round of my latest mock draft and it works out quite well.
Lapham will join me at 12:20 on Monday afternoon on ESPN 1530. We will talk all things draft, I will ask him about the center position, when the Bengals will consider drafting a quarterback and so much more.
Check out my latest Bengals mock draft.
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