- Coley Harvey, ESPN Cincinnati Bengals reporter
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CINCINNATI -- Among the many positions the Cincinnati Bengals will be out to shore up in this year's draft are those who can aid in pass-rush and run-support efforts.
While it still seems likely that offensive tackle will be the direction the Bengals ultimately turn with their first-round pick, it isn't a foregone conclusion that they won't draft a defensive tackle or a pass-rusher.
Just like the offensive tackles, there are plenty of the latter who will be available at the top of the draft board.
Below, we take a look at a few of the defenders whose names could be called by commissioner Roger Goodell in two weeks when the Bengals make their selection at No. 21 overall. Specifically, we've broken them down by their individual skill sets. These designations were inspired by this post earlier this week from ESPN draft insider Todd McShay, who explored the top front-seven options available in this year's draft. Each of these players have first- or second-round grades from McShay:
Eddie Goldman, Florida State: McShay listed three players under this designation. He was primarily offering names of those who could be true 3-4 nose tackles. Clearly, the Bengals don't run a 3-4, but they do value players at most every position with real versatility. Although he's 6-foot-4 and built like a 3-4 nose tackle at 336 pounds, Goldman spent time in a base 4-3 scheme while at FSU. In it, he shined as a run-stopper. Although the Bengals signed Pat Sims and re-signed Devon Still earlier this offseason, they only brought them in on one-year deals. There's a chance neither makes the team, nor will be back after 2015 if they stick this year. If that ends up being the case, the Bengals would need to protect their long-term depth by adding a young tackle who can provide the run support they would have felt Sims or Still lacked.
Malcolm Brown, Texas: Three-technique defensive linemen are those who play one of the two interior positions in a base 4-3. They are generally a little more agile and nimble than their 3-4 nose tackle counterparts, making them typically a little better in pass-rush situations. At 319 pounds, Brown possesses the size to be disruptive from a line's interior. McShay also views him as a potential defensive end in some 3-4 alignments. Brown is Scouts, Inc.'s second-rated defensive tackle prospect.
Michael Bennett, Ohio State: An area product, Bennett would be the third Centerville (Ohio) High School product on the team if selected by the Bengals. It's the same school kicker Mike Nugent and linebacker A.J. Hawk attended before they also played at Ohio State. Aside from the local ties, in Bennett the Bengals would get a player known for his impressive burst off the line of scrimmage. Compared to Brown, he's likely a second-round prospect.
Grady Jarrett, Clemson: Although rated the 53rd overall player on Scouts, Inc.'s big board, Jarrett may end up slipping into the third round mainly because of his size. The 6-foot-1, 304-pound tackle could be overlooked early because of questions about how well he'll be able to push large NFL guards and centers backward. Still, his quickness and NFL pedigree (his father is former Atlanta Falcons linebacker Jessie Tuggle, and he grew up calling Ray Lewis an uncle) make him an intriguing prospect.
The Bengals will be out to shore up their pass-rush and run-support efforts in this year's draft.