Unfortunately, I don’t have much pull in the Bengals draft room. (I would have never drafted Andre Smith for starters). But if I did, I have a feeling my board would look quite differently than the some of those who are actually in control. Here are my top four players for the Bengals heading into Thursday’s draft…
1. Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Peterson could start right away as a free safety, where it’s easier to make an impact. He could also serve as insurance if Jonathan Joseph leaves in free agency. It should be a slam dunk if he’s there at No. 4.
2. Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
Dareus would provide another boost to an emerging defensive line. Many people think he’s athletic enough to play defensive end (pretty impressive at 300-plus pounds), but would probably slide inside on passing downs.
3. Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M
This would be a luxury pick for the Bengals, but Miller is too talented to pass up if the first two guys are gone. He would give the Bengals an outstanding young linebacking corps if he landed in Cincinnati.
4. Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
I like Nick Fairley more, but after seeing Fairley on NFL Network and Jon Gruden’s ESPN special, I don’t trust him to stay in shape or motivated. Quinn has his own questions, but he would be a nice complement to Carlos Dunlap.
Overall, I don’t think there’s any need for the Bengals to reach for a quarterback in Round One. The team will get better value if they address that position in Round Two or Three. And A.J. Green, who seems to have legitimate talent, won’t help the Bengals much in 2011. I’ll take the best defensive player available at No. 4 and be happy.