April 20, 2014

Draft Day Prognostication

Draft Day is finally here!

In a few hours we will finally meet the newest class of Bengals, beginning tonight with two guys we hope to see be significant contributors for years to come. But before then, let’s take one more stab at who those guys might be.

Let’s work backwards through the positions in their likelihood to be taken in the first round.

“Ain’t Happening”

14. SPECIAL TEAMS. Teams guys don’t go in the first. Ever.

13. FULLBACK. See above.

12. QUARTERBACK. They aren’t taking a backup QB in the first. This would be a total waste.

11. CENTER. Cook is solid and was an undrafted free agent.

10. TIGHT END.  If Chase Coffman didn’t survive in the Bengals’ system, would Fleener?

9. RUNNING BACK. With Richardson gone, they will wait until the 2nd or 3rd round.

“Only If The Stars Align”

8. SAFETY. Even if Barron was still on the board at #17, I’m not sure the Bengals would take him. Zimmer really likes Taylor Mays, so I don’t think they value safety enough to use a first rounder on one.

7. LINEBACKER. Kuechly would have to slide all the way to #17. Hightower looks like a bit of a reach even at #21. (There was a rumor of the Bengals trading Maualuga and #17 to Seattle for #12 to get Kuechly. That is too steep price of a price to move up 5 spots. Offer me a third 1st round pick at #12 for Maualuga and a 3rd rounder, and you’ve got my attention!)

6. OFFENSIVE TACKLE. Reiff at #17 would be an incredible steal, but outside of him, the Bengals will look elsewhere. With Whitworth, Smith and Collins on the roster, the need just isn’t there this year. (If Smith struggles again this year, the need may be there next year.)

“Maybe, But I Doubt It”

5. DEFENSIVE TACKLE. Brockers or Poe are possibilities, but this is a deep group and the Bengals are more likely to wait until the middle rounds to add a guy who will be on the short side of the rotation behind Peko, Atkins and Sims.

4. OFFENSIVE GUARD. Like Reiff, DeCastro at #17 would be an incredible steal, although the odds of the guard sliding are far better. Glenn at #21 is also a possibility. Being a believer in taking linemen early, either would be fine. But I keep replaying the words of Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com in my head: “Do you think the Bengals traded Carson Palmer to get a guard?” He knows the mindset at PBS well, and I think those of us hoping for a guard in the first are going to be disappointed.

“You’re Getting Warmer”

3. WIDE RECEIVER. Floyd and Hill are the possibilities here. Floyd is the one who is ready to contribute, and if Marvin and Jay Gruden really like him, they might pull the trigger. But as I read Marvin, I am not sure that Floyd is the kind of guy that Marvin will fall in love with. (Not that way.) Hill is something of a project, and his last WR project just signed with the Vikings. (I do not include Kendall Wright because he does not fit the Bengals’ mold in either height or speed.)

I could more easily see them being content to go into the season with a “#2 WR by committee” approach with Shipley, Hawkins, Binns, Tate, and even Gresham.

“Tonight’s Winners Are…”

2. DEFENSIVE END. If Coples slides (questions about him not playing hard every down may help that happen), look for the Bengals to gobble him up. Similar accusations about Dunlap and Johnson did not scare them off. Upshaw is also a strong possibility, especially at #21.

Despite having plenty of guys already, a DE would not be a wasted pick. The Bengals want to improve upon what MJ gave them last year. A guy like Coples could quickly become the starter in front of Johnson, pushing Jamaal Anderson inside to tackle and (unless he really impresses during camp) leading to the eventual release of Harvey.

1. CORNERBACK. Despite the FA signings, the Bengals have to get younger here. Clements is in the last year of his deal, and Jones, Newman and Allen are on one year deals. For both depth and longevity, they need to get a guy who will make an impact at corner for years to come.

I see Gilmore as being the guy they prefer. Jenkins is an absolute reach because of his off-field issues. Kirkpatrick was not as impressive as we might have expected, given that he was playing behind the best defensive front in the BCS. But they may gamble on missing Gilmore at #21 and settle for Kirkpatrick instead if it allows them to grab a surprising slider at #17.

So my prediction is that we welcome Stephon Gilmore and Courtney Upshaw to the Bengals tonight. Feel free to agree below. Or disagree.