October 23, 2014

Draft Strategy: Secondary

When is the last time you can remember the Bengals having a formidable secondary? Not just good corners (Joseph/Hall), but an entire secondary? It’s been a while. You might cite the ’05 team that generated turnovers at a prolific rate, but I could also argue that their steep decline in ’06 indicated that they were more opportunistic that year than daunting.

After faltering a bit in 2011 with the departure of JJoe and injury to Hall, the corner position is putting itself together again. Leon Hall had a shaky return in the first few games but ended the year strong. Adam Jones had his first full, healthy season as a Bengal and showed why he draw interest from the coaches. Terence Newman bounced back to have a solid season under his old coach. And while Dre Kirkpatrick did not see nearly as much action as we would have liked, he is another first round talent that will be added to the mix for 2013.

Safety, however, is the ugly step-child of the secondary. The team usually waits until the late rounds to draft at this position, and the guys they do draft don’t seem to stick past their rookie contract. They are perennially on the hunt for bargain free agents to fill the holes in the torn, patchwork quilt that is the backfield. But with the team having fewer glaring needs than the past, this neglected spot is coming into focus this year. Many fans want the Bengals to address this spot much earlier in the draft. At least by Round 3, if not earlier.

Three options rise to the top of the draft class: Kenny Vaccaro, Matt Elam and Jonathan Cyprien. To get Vaccaro, the Bengals would certainly have to grab him in the first round (if he even gets to pick #21). And it is dicey to think that they could wait until their second pick in the second round (#53) to grab Elam or Cyprien, although they could still go after guys like Bacarri Rambo (you’ve gotta love a name like that!) or D.J. Swearinger even into the third round.

Another tactic may not follow as solid of logic and would certainly not be a long-term solution but could be as sweet as 5-scoop bowl of revenge: Ed Reed. With the Ravens already overspent for the 2013 salary cap without having addressed the $20M or so it will cost to keep Joe Flacco, it is pretty safe to assume that Reed has played his last game in a Ravens uniform. Has he played his last game for good? Is he too purple-and-black to sign with the Bengals for a year or two? Even if so, there is a long list of other free agent safeties that could be brought in–not all for major money either–and make a contribution.

You know what to do. (I’ve split the poll for double the fun!)

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