Promising, but rehabbing LB Myles Jack part of Bengals Round 1 'process'

CINCINNATI -- A draft-night free-fall for linebacker Myles Jack nearly resulted in him slipping right into the Cincinnati Bengals' hands.

The UCLA product who has been recovering from a knee injury since September dropped from his once-promising top-10 perch and completely out of Thursday night's opening round. The long fall was enough to prompt Jack's agent, former Bengals defensive tackle John Thornton, to tweet that while Jack understood the tenuous nature of the business side of football, he was still a little upset by the events of Round 1.

At points during the first round, the Bengals were apparently trying to figure out if they could use their pick at No. 24 overall if he fell to them.

"He was part of the process, just like we do everything," defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said. "We follow the draft board as we see it."

The way the Bengals view the draft board is by picking the best player available. As arguably one of the most athletic players in the draft, Jack certainly would have been exactly that for every team in the first round had his knee not been an issue.

Despite Jack still being available at 24, the Bengals ultimately used their pick on Houston cornerback William Jackson III. Deemed one of the draft's top corners, Jackson was regarded highly by the Bengals. That doesn't necessarily mean they had been fully convinced they were drafting him earlier in the day. The receiver position was a more immediate need, and it appeared they were going to address it until a run on receivers took place in the three picks that immediately preceded theirs. That run virtually wiped clean the pass-catching options that were supposedly atop the Bengals' list.

It meant they had to turn to another player they still trusted. In the case of Jackson, it was a player who spent the bulk of the pre-draft process tied to their rival Pittsburgh Steelers.

"I had dinner with them [Steelers] and we had great chemistry," Jackson said. "We talked about a lot of things, so I thought that was coming."

In the end, Jackson's selection was the perfect rebuttal to the receiver snatching that had occurred.

But a Jack pick might have been, too.

Crazy as it might have sounded -- the Bengals drafting a second straight first-rounder who entered the league with injury concerns (their 2015 pick, Cedric Ogbuehi, was recovering from a torn ACL) -- there were legitimate reasons for Cincinnati to consider picking Jack. For starters, Thornton still is well connected to Cincinnati and has been working out deals with the Bengals for a few years now. He also reps Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson.

There's also the fact the Bengals are in need of players who could play any of their three linebacker positions. They need someone like Jack.

So what accounts for his fall? Comments Jack made to the New York Post's Bart Hubbuch about his knee just two days before the draft likely had teams shying away from him.

"[The degenerative problems] are there, but it's nothing extreme," Jack told Hubbuch. "Down the line, possibly, I could have microfracture surgery -- potentially. Who knows what will happen? Nobody knows how long anybody is going to play in this league. To play three years in this league would be above average."

Jack is still expecting to go relatively early in the second round. That would mean the Bengals are once again likely out of the running for him, this time at No. 55 overall.