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Could the Bronko Nagurski winner actually fall to No. 9, and would the Bengals scoop him up?

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

If the Bengals get what they want with the No. 9 pick in the NFL Draft, it should be someone who upgrades the pass rush.

One of the best at doing so in 2016 was Alabama’s Jonathan Allen, who has been widely regarded as a top-five pick in this draft. The 6’3”, 291-pound lineman recorded 69 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks last season, along with two fumble returns for a touchdown, earning him the Bronko Nagurski Trophy last season as the nation’s best defensive player.

That was after a junior season in which he recorded 36 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 12 sacks and two forced fumbles. He did so while lining up at defensive end and tackle throughout his career, making him a valuable commodity for any NFL team, whether they run a 3-4 or 4-3 defense.

That’s why it’s hard to see Cincinnati having a shot at Allen when they go on the clock in Round 1. Allen was one of, if not the best defensive player in college football last year, and was also viewed as a consensus top-five with many projecting him to the 49ers at pick No. 2.

But as the draft draws near, it’s looking more and more like Allen could actually fall to the Bengals. In the latest media mock draft at, Geoff Hobson mocked Allen to Cincinnati after the stud lineman managed to fall that far.

9.BENGALS: DT Jonathan Allen, Alabama – Purely the best player on the board. He needed a suitcase after the season when he won the Bronko Nagurski Award for best defensive player, the Chuck Bednarik Award for best defensive player, and the Ted Hendricks Award for best defensive end.

Maybe someone would call Paul Brown Stadium to try to go up and get him if he slid this far, which would make the Bengals think about trading back. But, in the end, they’d be getting a top five player in this draft. It just depends on whose top five because if it is one thing this top ten lacks it is consensus. Still, ESPN has him as its No. 2 player as ranked by Scouts, Inc., and CBS has him at No. 4.

Allen falling to and even past Cincinnati is something that’s happening in more mocks as the draft inches closer. Matt Miller’s latest projection actually has Allen falling all the way to pick No. 15 before the Colts scoop him up. Two of’s four draft experts project Allen to or after pick No. 9.

So, why is Allen suddenly viewed as a guy who could fall to the Bengals, if not past them? It started in February at the Scouting Combine, where news surfaced that Allen has developed arthritis in his shoulders, a condition that wouldn’t bode well for his long-term durability in the NFL.

While Alabama team doctor Dr. Lyle Cain does not think Allen’s shoulder injuries should be anything of a concern, he did reveal that both of Allen’s shoulders have been surgically repaired, which should be a red flag for any team considering him early in Round 1.

And it’s no secret that Alabama players enter the NFL with a lot more wear and tear than most schools. We’ve seen plenty of former Crimson Tide superstars become duds in the NFL because they couldn’t stay healthy, or at the very least have a rough first couple of years in the pros.

Dre Kirkpatrick was among them, as he could barely get on the field over his first two years in large part due to injuries. He eventually developed into a guy worthy of the No. 17 pick in that 2012 NFL Draft, but the Bengals can’t afford to take a guy at No. 9 that has a similar career.

Whoever the Bengals take in Round 1, he needs to make an impact early and often for this team to remain a playoff contender. If Allen can’t be that, you can’t blame the Bengals and other teams for passing on him.

Still, Allen is a rare prospect who would be very hard to pass on, especially at No. 9. He’s exactly the kind of instant-impact defensive lineman the Bengals’ defense badly needs to play with Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap next season.

The risk appears to be higher with Allen then most of the guys in contention for pick No. 9, but he may offer the highest reward of them all.


The Cincinnati Bengals suffered a shockingly disappointing season in 2016. After making five-consecutive playoff appearances, Cincinnati went 6-9-1 last year. The Bengals were not a bad team, but their inability to win close games was frustrating. The team finished 1-6-1 in games that were decided by one possession last season. That obviously points to Cincinnati having a talented roster, but they need a few extra pieces to put them over the top. The Bengals should be in a good position to improve with the ninth pick in this year’s draft.

Here are five players the Cincinnati Bengals could target with the ninth pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

5) Garett Bolles OT Utah

Source: Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images North America – Via Zimbio

Andrew Whitworth has provided the Bengals with lights-out protection for the past ten years. Whitworth is about to enter free agency, and he has yet to re-sign with the team. The left tackle could want to chase a Super Bowl somewhere else, leaving the Bengals with some

undesirable options in his stead. Jake Fisher and Cedric Ogbuehi have proved to be incompetent at right tackle, so the Bengals have no reason to trust them on the blind side. Needing some new blood at this critical position, Cincinnati could turn to Garett Bolles in the first round.

Bolles would be a bit of a reach with the ninth pick, but he is the only tackle in this class with the traits to play on the left side. That could cause his stock to skyrocket after the combine. Bolles is a bit raw, but he might be Cincinnati’s best option in terms of replacing Whitworth.

 4) Jonathan Allen DT/DE Alabama

Source: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America – Via Zimbio

Jonathan Allen is the most talented player on this list, but he will probably get drafted before the Bengals get on the clock. Allen is a hyper-athletic freak along the defensive line. He moves like lightning once the ball has been snapped, and is incredibly tough to block. Allen is a phenomenal pass rusher who can get the job done without ignoring his duties in run support.

The Bengals would love to draft this talented defensive lineman, should he be available. Cincinnati needs help at defensive end and defensive tackle, and Allen can contribute at both spots. They would likely start him on the interior, pairing him with the fearsome Geno Atkins. The Bengals would be extremely tough to block if they managed to add Allen to their front.

3) Reuben Foster LB Alabama

Vontaze Burfict and Vincent Rey did a great job last season, but the Bengals need someone to play between them in base sets. Karlos Dansby played pretty well last season, but betting on a 35 year old

Source: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images North America – Via Zimbio

is risky at best. Meanwhile, Rey Maualuga has never been better than average at middle linebacker. If the Bengals really want to take their defense to the next level, they could spend the ninth pick in the draft on Reuben Foster.

Foster is the best linebacker to enter the draft in five years. He attacks the line of scrimmage with a downhill style, and his instincts are about as sharp as they can get. He struggles a bit in coverage, but the Bengals can take him off the field on passing downs in favor of Burfict and Rey. That would give him the time he needs to work out the kinks, while also letting him shine in base sets. Foster could really take the team’s run defense to the next level.

2) Taco Charlton DE Michigan

Source: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images North America – Via Zimbio

Teams tend to draft players with similar frames at a give position. For example, a team that likes corners who are tall and long might take a player like that over a more highly-touted prospect with a smaller frame. The Bengals are very particular about their defensive ends, usually preferring edge rushers that are taller than six-feet-six-inches. That makes it hard to find consistent options at the position. The scarcity of those players could cause them to reach for a guy like Taco Charlton with the ninth pick.

Charlton is definitely a first-round prospect, but taking him at nine would be a bit of a stretch. Still, he is the only rusher in this class that meets Cincinnati’s height requirement. He is also a phenomenal pass rusher, using both power and speed to get into the pocket. Charlton would provide the Bengals with great value in the first round, but they should probably try and trade down if they decide to take him.

1) Corey Davis WR Western Michigan

Source: Dylan Buell/Getty Images North America – Via Zimbio

How many years should it take a team to find a quality number-two receiver? The Bengal

s drafted A.J. Green back in 2011, and he has been one of the best wide receivers in the NFL since then. However, Cincinnati has yet to find a quality option across the field from Green. Andy Dalton has done a fine job throughout his career, but he could be a lot better if the Bengals added another great target. They should fix this problem here and now by drafting Corey Davis.

Davis would be the perfect complement to Green in this offense. While Green stretches the field with his speed, Davis can provide Dalton with a quality safety valve underneath. Davis is a beast after the catch, which could make him dangerous on plays where Green is running deep routes. He is a reliable route runner with strong hands in traffic. Adding a player like Davis could help the Bengals get over the hump in the AFC North.

Jonathan Allen has been a regular in the Alabama interview room since his sophomore season. Polished in front of the cameras and microphones, the senior has been known to talk with candid passion.

Before the College Football Awards Show, the Crimson Tide’s first national defensive player of the year added a little more insight on a few topics.

A couple brought interesting answers.

First, Allen was asked about the toughest test the Alabama defensive line faced this fall. Take a few guesses and you probably won’t identify the one that impressed Allen the most.

“The best offensive line? I have to give it to the Kentucky front,” Allen said. “That was probably the most physical game that I played in this year. I have to give it to them. They came with it that game and kind of caught us by surprise. That was a real physical game.”

The Wildcats ran for 72 yards on 36 carries and finished with 161 total yards. Alabama sacked the passer four times, twice resulting in lost fumbles.

What made Kentucky so stout?

“I don’t know, I guess it was just the determination and the want to,” Allen said. “They meant business when they came. I feel like we kind of overlooked them a little bit at first. But yeah, man, it was a wake-up call for us up front. We have to bring it. These guys are playing SEC ball.”

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