April 21, 2014

Focus On: Running Backs

This is a position that must be addressed high in the draft. Excessive pressure is being put on Andy Dalton because the running game is often stagnant. The Bengals looked their best in the 3-games stretch where BJGE had consecutive 100-yard games. That needs to be the rule, not the noteworthy occurrence.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis: signed through 2014
Not all will agree, but I see him as a small upgrade from Cedric Benson. I prefer his nose for the first-down marker, his quiet work ethic and (mostly) sure hands. But is he a primary back? I’m not feeling it. A complimentary guy with more speed would bring more potency to the running game. That might reduce his carries, but it should make his carries more effective.

Bernard Scott: unrestricted free agent
Like many, I thought that 2012 would be his year. Turns out it was his year on crutches. He seems to always be fighting nicks and dings. I hope he gets a shot somewhere next year, but I doubt it is here.

Brian Leonard: unrestricted free agent
The Leapster was an interesting phenomenon for a while and a handy third-down option, but he seems to have been figured out. The team may give him a deal, but it will be mainly for depth if they do. It depends largely on what they think of Dan Herron.

Cedric Peerman: restricted free agent
This Ced is exactly the kind of guy you want on the team as a person and a player. As an RFA, the team will bring him back. This off-season will be his time to show that he can be more than a backup and special teams player. But if I get my wish of a high draft pick, he will get pushed to the back of the pack again.

Dan Herron: signed through 2015
Herron was a small disaster in the early going, but he slowly made his way into a little bit of playing time. If the coaches like the way he is trending, he could replace Brian Leonard as the “gadget” guy of the group when Gruden wants to dig into his bag of tricks. At half of Leonard’s cost, I think Herron has the edge here.

Chris Pressley: signed through 2013
I know he is a fullback, but I’m not doing a post just on him. Pressley does his job well enough, and his position for next season is safe… if there is such a thing as safe in the NFL. They will probably bring in a CFA just to keep him honest, but the kid would have to be pretty impressive to unseat Pressley.

Free Agent Wish List
Can you already the clamor to bring in Steven Jackson, the guy they should have taken instead of Chris Perry? If that’s your wish, good luck to you on that. He will be 30 next season. He won’t be cheap. Mike Brown loves him some old-and-cheap bargains, but old and expensive ain’t on the Owner/GM menu at the PBS commissary. And beyond Jackson, the list gets uninspiring quickly. Keeping Cedric Peerman is a better option than most of what remains (aside from Danny Woodhead, who won’t leave New England).

Draft Options
It was hard not to be impressed by Eddie Lacy in the national title game. And I like much of what I have read about Giovani Bernard. Either way, I very much want the Bengals to address this need by the end of the 2nd round. Many of the early mock drafts have the Bengals taking lots of defense, but RB simply has to be a high priority. It is as important–maybe more important–than figuring out who the #2 WR will be. A stronger threat to run will not allow teams to set so deep and key solely on A.J. Green. There must be more balance on offense, and they will have to draft that guy.