Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Who Will Be The Bengals First Draft Pick?

Ah, it's spring. There's less than two weeks till baseball's opening day. Xavier is in the sweet sixteen. So it's time to think about ... the Bengals draft! Yes, the big event takes place April 22. Before I predict who the Bengals will pick with the twenty first pick let's go over the five biggest weaknesses on the team.

You should also run out and pick up your copy of Pro Football Weekly's 2010 Draft Guide. You won't have to order it online, get it at your newsstand. Why? Because if Bengals owner Mike Brown had followed PFW's 2008 review of WR Jerome Simpson, the Bengals could have picked the much higher rated and playmaking DeSean Jackson instead. Here's what PFW said about Simpson's weaknesses. "Faced marginal competition. Runs lazy routes and rounds off too many breaks." (2008 Draft Guide, pg. 49) Even though he was a second round pick, that's too high for this type of bust. Simpson can't get on the field. Luckily, the Bengals didn't miss on the first round of that draft with LB Keith Rivers.

Here are the needs in order of importance. Some may be filled by free agency though the market is starting to dry up.

1. Tight End. A pass catching tight end who can block is essential to the Bengals passing attack. Once Chris Henry was hurt, teams could double Chad Ochocinco. While a deep threat from wide receive would help, a tight end will give QB Carson Palmer an outlet who can get in the seams of the zone. Reggie Kelly is coming off an Achilles injury and is a free agent. Chase Coffman can't get on the field. Hopefully, he's not a Jerome Simpson bust. So there is great need here.

Top Three TEs in the draft: 1. Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma. Coming off surgery for torn knee ligaments, he's still the number one choice. 2. Rob Gronkowski, Arizona. Coming off serious back injury, it's likely he's going to drop, bringing up the next two. 3. Ed Dickson, Oregon. (tie) Anthony McCoy, USC. I like USC's pro style offense.

2. Defensive Line (Defensive End, Defensive Tackle) Yes, the Bengals resigned Tank Johnson but a foot injury hampered him. I still don't trust the character issue. Good defensive tackles are hard to come by. And yet the Bears and Cowboys gave up on him. As for defensive end, Antwan Odom is coming off an Achilles injury. Michael Johnson was a rookie. Some depth here could put the Bengals over the top. After all, defense wins championships. And the game is won in the trenches.

Top Three Defensive Tackles: PFW rates this position as "A" so look for the Bengals to get a DT somewhere in the draft. 1. Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma. Will be gone way before the Bengals pick. 2. Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska. Ditto. 3. Jared Odrick, Penn State. Ditto when the Bengals pick again in the second round.

Top Three Defensive Ends: 1. Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida. 2. Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech. 3. Brandon Graham, Michigan.

3. Wide Receiver. The loss of Chris Henry allowed opponents to ignore any deep threat and focus on Ochocinco. The Bengals need a deep threat to force teams to play them honestly, i.e., stop double teaming Ochocinco. While the Bengals recently signed Antonio Bryant, he's not the deep threat that Henry was. He's had one great year since 2002 and clashes with former coaches. Doesn't build confidence, does it? The Bengals should take a bold move and trade for Denver's Brandon Marshall. But bold and Mike Brown are two terms that are an oxymoron.

Top Three Receivers: 1. Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State. Will be gone by the time the Bengals pick. 2. Arrelious Benn, Illinois. 3. Golden Tate, Notre Dame. UC fans watch this one. By the time the Bengals pick again in the second round, the top three should be gone. But Mardy Gilyard will likely be there.

4. Kicker. I like Shayne Graham. Nice guy. Very accurate kicker when the game is not on the line. Remember the heartbreaking missed extra point against Denver in 2006? And then the missed two chip shots during the Bengals playoff loss to the Jets? You're not going to franchise this guy again. And you're not going to give the job off to journeyman Dave Rayner without competition. Again, there's a reason why this guy can't land a steady job. The Bengals should look for a long term solution here. How about former Bengal Neil Rackers?! Well, at least he can't complain about the soggy field because it's all artificial now. By the way, don't look for the Bengals to draft a kicker earlier than the sixth round.

Top Three Kickers. 1. Aaron Pettrey, Ohio State. Mikey loves Ohio State guys so this is possible in the later rounds. 2. Brett Swenson, Michigan State. 3. Dustin Keys, Virginia Tech.

5. Safety. Both Bengals safeties went down last year. And while Chris Crocker came back, Roy Williams did not. Williams has resigned with the team but watching back up Tom Nelson was painful. Some depth and look towards the future is in order.

Top Three Safeties. 1. Taylor Mays, USC. 2. Eric Berry, Tennessee. 3. Earl Thomas, Texas.

Now it's time to predict who the Bengals will select with their first round pick. And with the twenty first pick of the 2010 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals will pick... drum roll....


Why? By the time the Bengals pick, WR Dez Bryant will be gone. So will the top two defensive tackles. The other two top wide receivers would be good here but the need at tight end is too great. That's why the Bengals signed free agent Antonio Bryant. Gresham will float down to the Bengals because of the injury which cost him his senior year. But remember in the NFL, rookies regularly contribute and if Gresham learns the playbook he's going to be running wild on the Ravens, Browns and those bums from Pittsburgh. Let's look at some Gresham highlights to whet our appetite.

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