CINCINNATI -- The NFL draft is slowly coming more into focus.
Within the next three weeks, the Cincinnati Bengals will have their latest group of rookies in place.
As we continue our pre-draft Bengals coverage, we're taking a look this week at several positions of need, and a few names of draft hopefuls who could be options to soon fill them.
Current combined OT cap value: $14,143,106
*Career approximate value for current OTs: Whitworth (60), Smith (26), Winston (51), Hawkinson (0)
Rounds current OTs drafted in: Whitworth (second, 2006), Smith (first, 2009), Winston (third, 2006), Hawkinson (fifth, 2013)
Round Bengals could draft OTs: First, possibly add another late Day 3
Reasons OT is a need: With their top three offensive tackles entering their 10th (Whitworth and Winston) and seventh seasons (Smith), the Bengals are in need of getting younger at the position. Specifically, they need to add fresh, early-round talent that could start at any point after this season. It's unlikely the drafted player will see much action as a rookie because of Whitworth, Smith and Winston's presence. But because those three will all be free agents next offseason, the Bengals have to place a high priority on attempting to replace them. Although Whitworth may have had his best season in 2014, he will turn 34 before the end of the season. He's likely near the end of his career.
*Career approximate value comes from a Pro-Football-Reference.com metric that attempts to attach value to individual players. The higher the number, the better. Typically veterans will have higher AVs than younger players.
Possible OT options:
La'el Collins, LSU (6-5, 305)
Collins could be the ideal fit for the Bengals at No. 21 overall. He has the mix of size and versatility that the Bengals are looking for. He also comes with the added benefit of having played in college with running back Jeremy Hill and receiver James Wright, two Bengals who were rookies last year. Whitworth, another former LSU Tiger, seems like a logical locker-room mentor for Collins.
Andrus Peat, Stanford (6-7, 313)
Peat also appears a good fit from a size standpoint. Although not as versatile as Collins (who could also play guard), Peat possesses a measure of athleticism that has pro teams intrigued. He is a likely first-rounder. Like Collins, he has a tie to the Bengals. H-back Ryan Hewitt played with Peat before signing as an undrafted free agent last year.
Ereck Flowers, Miami (6-6, 329)
One of Scouts Inc.'s notations on Flowers is that he's "aggressive and plays with an edge." Forget his size and strength (both of which are laudable), that nugget about his style of play makes him a perfect option for the Bengals, who privately admit wanting more players up and down the roster who have edges and mean streaks.
Other potential OT fits: