New mock draft predicts Bengals land 'ascending' defensive prospect

new mock draft predicts bengals land 'ascending' defensive prospect

Texas Longhorns defensive lineman Byron Murphy II (90)

The Bengals did a good job of addressing their biggest needs in free agency, which will allow them to take a best-player-available approach in the 2024 NFL Draft in just a little over a week.

With that in mind, NFL Network’s Peter Schrager predicts Cincinnati will land one of the draft’s top defenders in his latest mock draft.

With pick No. 18, Schrager believes the Bengals will select Texas defensive tackle Byron Murphy II.

“Murphy is the top interior defensive line prospect in this class. He has interviewed well and was a workout warrior in Indy,” Schrager writes. “Murphy would fortify the group with his highly disruptive game.”

Cincinnati already added veteran defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins in free agency to pair with B.J. Hill in the interior of its defensive line. However, Murphy would provide some much-needed youth and upside to the group.

The 21-year-old was “powerful and well-schooled” at Texas, registering 68 tackles and eight sacks during his three seasons as a Longhorn. He was also named the 2023 Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year.

Many experts, like NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah, think he’s still “ascending” as well and will only continue to get better at the next level.

“2 stocks I’d like to buy a little over a week away from the draft- Graham Barton & Byron Murphy,” Jeremiah posted on X.

There is a chance Murphy is gone by the time the Bengals are on the clock as he ranks as the No. 12 overall prospect on Pro Football Focus’ big board. If that’s not the case, it would make a lot of sense for them to take him, especially after the loss of D.J. Reader (Lions) in free agency.

Cincinnati’s defense allowed the second-most total yards per game (374.6) in the league last season. Murphy would help prevent that from happening again in 2024.

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