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Bengals take Stanford DE Solomon Thomas in Todd McShay's mock draft

It wouldn't be a surprise if the Cincinnati Bengals try to stick to their "best player available" theory in the 2017 draft.

But if they draft for need instead, ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay's latest mock draft would make a lot of sense.

In his second mock draft, McShay had the Bengals taking Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas at No. 9 overall.

The 6-foot-3, 270-pound Thomas had 62 tackles (15 for loss) and eight sacks in his final season at Stanford.

This pick makes a lot of sense on paper. The Bengals already have Geno Atkins on the inside, with likely intentions to eventually replace Domata Peko at nose tackle with 2016 fourth-round pick Andrew Billings.

The Bengals would be wise to upgrade their pass rush after finishing with only 33 sacks last season. The 2015 season, in which the team had 42 sacks, was sandwiched between disappointing sack totals in 2016 and 2014, showing the need for improvement in that area.

The Bengals are set on one side with Carlos Dunlap, but 30-year-old Michael Johnson has only reached double-digit sacks once in his career. Wallace Gilberry, who was re-signed late in the season, is not the answer here either.

Solomon had a dominant performance in his final college game, a win against North Carolina in the Sun Bowl. The biggest question is his ability to transition from a 3-4 college defense to a 4-3 NFL defense.

It would probably be unlikely that the Bengals address the pass-rushing need in free agency considering several of their own free agents need to be signed. They're likely to have a large draft class this year due to compensatory picks, so they'll have to address this need at some point.