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ThePudge
03-04-2009, 09:54 PM
- There is a reason this wasn't posted on the Team Page only. That is, because it contains a good amount of my positional rankings which have been altered a bit from a week ago. It was a lot of work that took me the majority of two days. Since this is Volume I, you can expect much more information later on in a few weeks, by draft day I hope to update three times. Any feedback is greatly appreciated and I am absolutely open to discussion/disagreement, etc. Enjoy!

Bengals 2009 Draft Database - Vol. I

Head Coach - Marvin Lewis
Offensive Coordinator - Bob Bratkowski
Defensive Coordinator - Mike Zimmer
- Scheme: Aggressive 4-3, heavy blitzing from Linebackers and Safeties

Mock Draft

* Estimation (Since Compensation Picks have not been released, there is no factual draft order after the 3rd)
** Projected Compensation Pick

1(6). B.J. Raji - DT - Boston College
- Due to Seattle's recent signing of former Bengal T.J. Houshmanzadeh, the possibility of the team taking WR Michael Crabtree has diminished a bit. With that being said, I think it is less likely for one of the draft's top two tackles (Jason Smith and Eugene Monroe) to reach us in the first round. Now, where does the team go from there? The massive DT B.J. Raji, whom the Bengals coached at the Senior Bowl, would be a nice place to start. Raji is a thick, powerful player that gets tremendous push in the run game and is a disruptive pass-rusher. While Defensive Tackle may not be the biggest need, as we have a fairly solid unit and pair of starters (Domata Peko and Pat Sims), but never before have the Bengals had a guy like Raji. The Bengals offseason's #1 priority is to generate a pass-rush and Raji's effect in that could be twofold: 1) Raji is a disruptive pass-rusher that will help collapse the pocket and 2) He takes attention and double-teams away from the edges so talented pass-rushers Antwan Odom and Robert Geathers can work more freely. I am, by no means, calling Raji the next Albert Haynesworth, but he flashed similar dominance all year and in Mobile at the Senior Bowl. He has the connections already to the Bengals coaching staff, who loved him, all he really needs to become a Bengal in April is for things to fall into place (Smith/Monroe in the Top 5).

2(38). - Alex Mack - C - California
- There are truly many ways the Bengals could go with this second round pick. There is a chance the pick could be a Running Back, perhaps a Linebacker, Center, Defensive End, or if the value is right, even a Wide Receiver. Center, though, is the team's biggest need and could offer some real value at the beginning of the round. Alex Mack is a terrific Center prospect, and another player the Bengals coaches got a first-hand look at in Mobile playing for the North squad. There's a chance he won't last this long, with Pittsburgh and Baltimore both in need of a Center at the end of the first. Still, I like the chances of the big California prospect being available when the team draft's at 38. Mack is big, strong, he's tough, he's versatile, but also shows some athleticism & plenty of intelligence on and off the field. Mack is a hard-worker and you get the feeling he really wants it more than most. He is a very good fit in Cincinnati where they see Shaun Rogers, Casey Hampton, and Haloti Ngata twice a year.

3(70). Gerald Cadogan - OT/OG - Penn State
- After passing on Offensive Tackles in both the first two rounds in the draft, the Bengals could look to solve that last issue with the OL in Round 3. Gerald Cadogan is an underrated Offensive Tackle prospect. He stood out in his week at the Texas vs. The Nation game. He's big, athletic, and has the potential to play one of three positions on the Offensive Line (LT/RT/LG) in Cincinnati. Offensive Line coach, Paul Alexander, values this type of size (6'5 1/8 309), intelligence, and versatility. Cadogan doesn't get the hype of the rest of the pack due to the fact that he is inexperienced and has not worked the hype machine for very long seeing as he was a one-year starter in college. He may not be all too strong, or over-powering, but he is very athletic, very smart, and has excelled as both a pass-blocker and run-blocker in his time at Penn State. He is a prospect on the rise, and though he may not warrant this high a pick yet, he is not far off.

4(105)*. Mike Goodson - RB - Texas A&M
- After stacking the lines, the Bengals could look to add some pop to their running game. Marvin Lewis had been dedicated to finding a solution for the team's lack of big plays in the run game. The team is looking for a player that can break the big, 20+ yard, run. Though Mike Goodson is far from a complete back, he is a play-maker. Goodson is an underrated underclassman back that really never hit his stride after a very strong Freshman season. Still, Goodson plays with tremendous speed, agility, plenty of quickness, and offers an option as a receiver out of the backfield. A good fit and would work well as a 1-2 punch with newly re-signed Cedric Benson.

4(133)**. Quinn Johnson - FB - LSU
- Last year, Jeremi Johnson ate his way out of Cincinnati. This left a void in which college TE/H-B Daniel Coats had to fill. This, as we saw, didn't exactly work as planned. Johnson is the 2009 NFL Draft's best blocking fullback. He is low, compact, and powerful. Another Senior Bowl player the Bengals coaches got a look at, though he played for the South that week. He also showed, during that week, some ability as a short-yardage runner and receiver which were relatively untapped skills at LSU. Johnson would be a solid value in the late 4th and could start immediately. Compensation Pick for Justin Smith.

5(141)*. Chris Owens - CB - San Jose State
- A year ago, injuries ravaged our thin secondary, causing the team to go out and enlist the services of journeymen. This year, I think the team will wise up and look for Cornerback depth in the draft. Though Owens has been over-shadowed by Coye Francies and Dwight Lowery the past couple years, Owens has develop into a solid player in his own right. He has impressed in Texas vs. The Nation practices and has put his stock on the rise like teammates Francies and DL Jarron Gilbert.

6(174)*. Johnny Knox - WR - Abilene Christian
- Wide Receiver may not be the biggest need, but in the early sixth round, not everything has to be about need. Knox has terrific speed and has his stock on the way up after a great performance at the Texas vs. The Nation game and the Combine. There is a chance Knox doesn't last this long, but if he does, the Bengals could take a chance on this potentially high-reward prospect.

6(203)**. Ian Campbell - DE/LB - Kansas State
- Another player that may not be available at this point by April 26th. Campbell, though, is a good pass-rusher that would add much needed depth to the Defensive End spot. He is by no means a complete player, as he has his struggles against the run, still he is fairly fluid athletically and has upside as a situational pass-rusher. Compensation Pick for Landon Johnson.

7(211)* Juan Garcia - C - Washington
- Garcia is a player I'm particularly fond of. He was a very underrated player on a very, very bad Washington team a year ago. One has to wonder how much an impact his team's lack of success had on his stock. Garcia is thick, strong, fairly athletic and capable of playing a backup role at either Center or Right Guard at the next level. He understands leverage better than most and has endured tough competition in the Pac-10. A prospect not getting a whole lot of love right now, but could develop into a decent depth player down the road.

Team Needs

1. Center
- Since Rich Braham's departure, years ago, the Bengals have faced some tough times at the Center position. It's not that Eric Ghaiciuc is necessarily a bad player, more that he's not in the right situation. Ghaiciuc is athletic, he's fairly smart, he is agile; however, he's not very strong, he doesn't understand leverage, and that equals bad news when you play in the AFC North and face 3-4 Defenses at least six times a year, guaranteed. Backup Center, Dan Santucci, is smart, fairly strong, and a bit better getting leverage, unfortunately he is a very average athlete and undersized, a true backup. The Bengals would ideally like to add a veteran to add stability and perhaps allow for more flexibility on draft day. Still, there's no need to worry if the team doesn't add a Center via Free Agency as this year's crop is very strong. The Centers this year are broken into tiers really and the first tier is as strong as we've seen, all looking to be drafted, most likely, in the Early-Mid 2nd Round range. Comprising that group are: California's Alex Mack, a big, strong, fairly athletic, smart, technically sound player. Louisville's Eric Wood is a likewise big, tough, more gritty than strong, again fairly athletic, smart prospect. Oregon's Max Unger, the most athletic of the three, can play any position from Center to Tackle and excels in pass-protection and pulling in the run game. Others to watch on the second day include college standouts: Antoine Caldwell (Alabama), Jonathan Luigs (Arkansas), A.Q. Shipley (Penn State), and Edwin Williams (Maryland). In the late-rounds, expect to hear from Jon Cooper (Oklahoma) and Juan Garcia (Washington) a couple big-school sleepers. Overall, this is a need that should be addressed early if not in Free Agency. Luckily this class is as strong as we've seen and offers a variety of options early and later on.

ThePudge's Top Center Rankings as of 3/4/09
1. Alex Mack – California – Late 1st-Early 2nd
2. Eric Wood – Louisville – Second Round
3. Max Unger – Oregon – Late 1st-Early 3rd
4. Anoine Caldwell – Alabama – Early 3rd-Early 4th
5. Jonathan Luigs – Arkansas – Late 3rd-Early 5th
6. A.Q. Shipley – Penn State – Late 4th-Early 6th
7. Edwin Williams - Maryland - Early 5th-Late 6th
8. Jon Cooper – Oklahoma – Mid 5th-Early 7th
9. Juan Garcia – Washington – Early 6th-Mid 7th
10. Alex Fletcher – Stanford – Late 6th-UDFA

2A. Offensive Tackle
- Now, here's a position we could debate for hours on end. I decided, purposely, to not select "Right Tackle" or "Left Tackle" with this need as, to be honest, I'm not sure what the teams plans are. I don't feel too bad though because it has become very evident that the team doesn't even know their plans. As has been the theme so far this offseason, the Bengals coaching staff seems to be going with the flow here. Paul Alexander, the team's offensive line coach, has himself a versatile line and he knows it. He is very flexible in his ideas with current Left Guard Andrew Whitworth (LG/LT) and young Left Tackle Anthony Collins (LT/RT). Still, no matter how he shuffles them, we're still going to need help at either one of the Tackle spots or Left Guard. The team reportedly met with every offensive linemen at the Combine, drilling them with questions, and feeling them out for their willingness and desire. The Bengals typically like big, athletic, versatile linemen who can play at least three positions on the line. While this is by no means a requirement if we were to add a franchise Left Tackle type such as Jason Smith or Eugene Monroe, it would be critical after the first round. After drafting Stacy Andrews in 2004, coach Alexander discussed ideas ranging from Right Guard, to Left Guard, and Right Tackle. After drafting Whitworth in 2006, Alexander explored possibilities at LT/RT and, of course, Left Guard. After drafting Anthony Collins a year ago, Alexander once again spoke of possibilities of playing at RT/RG/LG, or, as we saw, Left Tackle. Whenever the team takes a lineman after the first round, you have to raise an eyebrow and wonder where or how the player will be used. Basically, the team could a) take a Left Tackle in the first and move Collins to Right Tackle, they could b) go Right Tackle a bit later on and keep Collins on the left side, or, perhaps, the team could c) move Whitworth to LT, Collins to RT, and target a Left Guard.

Realistically, we are likely looking at one of these picks in the first three rounds of April's draft. Luckily there is plenty of talent at the position in this class and finding an OT may prove to be easier than most think. Jason Smith, from Baylor, is a tremendous talent with the natural athleticism, agility, and most of all, desire, to develop into a franchise Left Tackle at the NFL level. Eugene Monroe (Virginia) is a natural Left Tackle with agility, balance, experience, a high floor, but questionable desire. Michael Oher, Mississippi, and Andre Smith, Alabama, each offer a more versatile look (as either can play inside/out or on either side) and play with superior strength in the run game. While J. Smith and Monroe are likely Top 5 picks, Oher and A. Smith are solid Top 15 values due to questionable intelligence (Oher), work ethic (Smith), and questions concerning their ability to play Left Tackle at the next level. William Beatty (UConn) and Eben Britton (Arizona) are two more Tackles that could crash the first round mix. Beatty is a raw, but athletically gifted, left tackle prospect while it is unknown if Britton can play on the left side in the NFL. Particular systematic fits, due to projected versatility, include: South Carolina's Jamon Meredith (LT/LG), Penn State's Gerald Cadogan (LT/RT/LG), Tennessee State's Cornelius Lewis (RT/LG), and Eastern Michigan's T.J. Lang (RT/LG) among others.

ThePudge's Top Offensive Tackle Rankings as of 3/4/09
1. Jason Smith – Baylor – Top 5
2. Eugene Monroe – Virginia – Top 10
3. Andre Smith – Alabama – Top 15 (OG)
4. Michael Oher – Mississippi – Top 15
5. William Beatty – Connecticut – Late 1st-Early 2nd
6. Eben Britton – Arizona – Late 1st-Mid 2nd
7. Phil Loadholt – Oklahoma – Mid 2nd-Early 3rd
8. Jamon Meredith – South Carolina – Mid 2nd-Mid 3rd (OG)
9. Gerald Cadogan - Penn State - Mid 3rd-Late 4th (OG)
10. Troy Kropog – Tulane – Mid 3rd-Late 4th
11. Jason Watkins – Florida – Late 3rd-Early 5th
12. Cornelius Lewis – Tennessee State – Mid 4th-Early 5th (OG)
13. T.J. Lang – Eastern Michigan – Mid 4th-Mid 5th (OG)
14. Xavier Fulton – Illinois – Late 4th-Early 6th (OG)
15. Augustus Parrish – Kent State – Early 5th-Early 6th
16. Andrew Gardner – Georgia Tech – Late 5th-Mid 7th
17. Joel Bell – Furman – Mid 6th-UDFA
18. Fenuki Tupou – Oregon – Mid 6th-UDFA (OG)
19. Alex Boone – Ohio State – 7th Round-UDFA
20. Lydon Murtha – Nebraska – 7th Round-UDFA

2B. Left Guard
- Let me elaborate for those who did not read "2A," Left Guard becomes a need if, and only if, c) the team moves Whitworth to Left Tackle and Anthony Collins to Right Tackle. Otherwise, this position is a team strength as starter Andrew Whitworth is the team's best and most consistent lineman. Reserve LG Nate Livings also performed well when called upon late in the season because of injuries. Still, if Whitworth is kicked out to Left Tackle, Left Guard will be a void that will need to be filled either by a veteran or perhaps a draft pick. Now, as a Bengals fan and draft enthusiast, I would not advise them to plan on this. The Offensive Guard class is weak in 2009, far weaker than perviously though, and to find a solid starter out of this batch could be fairly tough. Duke Robinson, though overrated, is the class' best prospect, equipped with size, mobility, and experience. Still, he is by no means former teammate and LG Davin Joseph, and is at best an Early-Mid 2nd Round value. After Robinson, unfortunately, the talent drops off a bit and you get the feeling that the most effective Guards in this class will be converted OT's from the list above. UC product Trevor Canfield could be a fit, however, in the third or fourth. Despite the likelihood that we will not need a Left Guard, I will provide rankings of course...

ThePudge's Top Offensive Guard Rankings as of 3/4/09
1. Duke Robinson – Oklahoma – Late 1st-Mid 2nd
2. Andy Levitre – Oregon State – Late 2nd-Mid 3rd
3. Trevor Canfield – Cincinnati – Late 3rd-Mid 4th
4. Kraig Urbik – Wisconsin – Early 4th-Early 5th
5. Roger Allen – Missouri Western State – Late 4th-Early 6th
6. Louis Vasquez – Texas Tech – Mid 5th-Mid 6th
7. Herman Johnson – LSU – Early 5th-UDFA (RT)
8. Ray Feniga – BYU – Early 6th-UDFA
9. Greg Isander – West Virginia – Early 6th-UDFA
10. Cedric Dockery – Texas – Late 6th-UDFA
11. Seth Olsen – Iowa – 7th Round-UDFA
12. C.J. Davis – Pittsburgh – 7th Round-UDFA
13. Tyronne Green – Auburn – 7th Round – UDFA
14. Jamie Thomas – Maryland – 7th Round – UDFA
15. Brandon Walker – Oklahoma – 7th Round-UDFA

3. Fullback
- Not so long ago, this was a team strength. Cincinnati transitioned from banger Lorenzo Neal at the start of the decade into a similar player, Jeremi Johnson, without losing much if anything. Still, Johnson was unable to keep his weight down or stay in shape last offseason and ended up getting released for it. So, by necessity, the team took Daniel Coats, a second year TE/H-B, and stuck him with the starting fullback job. The run game, of course, suffered, and Coats was unable to help as a receiver or pass-blocker. That's not to say Coats is a bad player, simply an inexperienced player, playing out of position. This year the team looks dedicated to bringing back a punishing blocking fullback via Free Agency or perhaps, the draft. They would, ideally, also be able to use this FB as a receiver out of the backfield and a short-yardage back as well from the looks of the things. If the Bengals hold off in free agency and do put the need off until April 26th, they will be looking at a fairly average crop, but that's not to say the class is devoid of talent. LSU's Quinn Johnson is a perfect fit in Cincinnati. Johnson is a very good lead blocker, but also is more than just a marginal athlete, displaying skills put to waste at LSU while in Mobile for the Senior Bowl. In addition to his blocking, Johnson is an exceptional short-yardage runner and displays solid hands out of the backfield. Though Johnson may not be selected in the draft's first three rounds, he is a fairly complete FB that should make a team happy in the immediate future. Tony Fiammetta (Syracuse) comes with a similar reputation and value, though is a bit more athletic. Still, in pre-draft processes (such as the Senior Bowl and Combine), I have grown more fond of Johnson. The next best fit could come a round or so later with Georgia's Brannan Southerland, an athletic, but somewhat injury-prone, fullback that can also do it all. There are some late round options such as Conredge Collins, Jason Cook, and Marcus Mailei that fit, but if it's an immediate starter we're looking for in the draft, we may want to look at the top three.

ThePudge's Top Fullback Rankings as of 3/4/09
1. Quinn Johnson – LSU – Mid 4th-Late 5th
2. Tony Fiammetta – Syracuse – Mid 4th-Late 5th
3. Brannan Southerland – Georgia – Early 5th-Early 6th
4. Brock Bolen – Louisville – Early 6th-Mid 7th
5. Eddie Williams – Idaho – Mid 6th-UDFA
6. Jason Cook – Mississippi – Mid 6th-UDFA
7. Zeek Zacharie – Lousiana Monroe – 7th Round-UDFA
8. Eric Kettani – Navy – 7th Round-UDFA
9. Conredge Collins – Pittsburgh – 7th Round-UDFA
10. Marcus Mailei – Weber State – 7th Round-UDFA

4A. Defensive End
- In collaboration with 4B, which will be Defensive Tackle, this need is not because the team necessarily needs a starter, it's because Mike Zimmer's primary goal in the offseason is to add pass-rushers, whether inside or out, allowing his attacking scheme to be far more successful than a year ago. Antwan Odom and Robert Geathers are both talented, athletically gifted, Defensive Ends, each capable of rushing the passer and holding starting roles. Still, the two were hurt a year ago and relatively ineffective when healthy. Also, top backup Frostee Rucker was hurt and is more of a force against the run. So, with that being said, the team would love to add depth at Defensive End and add another outside pass-rusher or two to the mix. Typically, the team targets long-limbed, athletic DE's (see Jarvis Moss in 07' and Derrick Harvey a year ago) that specialize in getting to the quarterback. Also, typical is the fact that we all know who the Bengals are targeting with about two-three weeks until draft day. So the question has to be, how is this year's crop? Are there any fits albeit early or later on?

Early, in the Top 20-25, there will likely be three-five ends off the board. The top three all happen to be DE/OLB tweeners, in Texas' Brian Orakpo, Penn State's Aaron Maybin, and Florida State's Everette Brown. Sixth overall would be very high for any of the above, as they are, as I mentioned, tweeners, and not the long, athletic ends the team typically prefers. That is not to say a player like Brown or Orakpo couldn't possibly be a Cincinnati Bengal, but it means it is unlikely as they would each be a bit of a reach and not the picture-perfect fit. Larry English and Tyson Jackson also figure to be in that first round mix, but, once again, neither is really a fit and neither is by any means a value at 6th Overall. If Tennessee's Robert Ayers, a late-bloomer and stud in Mobile, makes it to our second round pick, he may be too good to pass up. The first typical fit we see really is Georgia Tech's Michael Johnson, a likely late first-early second round pick, brimming with upside, but also with bust potential. Johnson is athletic and at 6'7, he certainly is long-limbed. Still, Johnson is very raw and it's questionable what kind of production we could get from him in the short term. Later on the team may find their best value/fit with Texas Tech's Brandon Williams, Wisconsin's Matt Shaughnessy, Kansas State's Ian Campbell, or Texas A&M's Michael Bennett. Still, the fact that the team needs a pass-rush desperately could force the Bengals to go outside their typical mold, though it appears unlikely at this point that the team is interested to the point that they'd reach early out of desperation.

ThePudge's Top Defensive End Rankings as of 3/4/09
1. Everette Brown – Florida State – Top 10 (OLB)
2. Brian Orakpo – Texas – Top 15 (OLB)
3. Aaron Maybin – Penn State – Top 20 (OLB)
4. Larry English – Northern Illinois – Top 32
5. Tyson Jackson – LSU – Top 32 (3-4 DE)
6. Robert Ayers – Tennessee – Late 1st-Mid 2nd
7. Michael Johnson – Georgia Tech – Late 1st-Mid 2nd
8. Jarron Gilbert – San Jose State – Late 1st-Mid 2nd (3-4 DE)
9. Lawrence Sidbury – Richmond – Mid 2nd-Mid 3rd (OLB)
10. Paul Kruger – Utah – Late 2nd-Mid 3rd
11. Kyle Moore – USC – Late 3rd-Early 5th
12. David Veikune – Hawaii – Mid 4th-Late 5th
13. Tim Jamison – Michigan – Late 4th-Early 6th
14. Brandon Williams – Texas Tech – Early 5th-Mid 6th
15. Matt Shaughnessy - Wisconsin - Early 5th-Mid 6th
16. Ian Campbell – Kansas State – Late 4th-Late 6th (OLB)
17. Michael Bennett – Texas A&M – Mid 5th-Early 7th
18. Will Davis – Illinois – Late 5th-Early 7th
19. Phillip Hunt – Houston – Late 5th-Mid 7th
20. Henry Melton – Texas – Early 6th-Mid 7th

4B. Defensive Tackle
- To the avid readers that are hanging on every word I have typed here, I am sorry for ruining the surprise of need 4B above. Once again, this is a case of solid starters, but a need for a pass-rush and perhaps inadequate depth for the time being. Domata Peko has established himself as a solid NFL starter and Pat Sims looked very promising last year, turning in what may have been the strongest rookie performance on the team. Still, we were unable to generate much of a pass-rush from the interior Defensive Line, so we could look into adding new personnel. Orien Harris was a pleasant surprise a year ago, showing the ability to be a solid rotational DT. Jason Shirley, the current #4 man, did not play enough to warrant a review, instead he battled legal charges and the injury bug. Still, with veteran John Thornton's departure, there is a bit of a hole depth wise. This is a position, again, that we do not need to reach for. Instead, we can focus on adding depth unless a true value presents itself early on. As for this year's Defensive Tackle class, it is solid but unspectacular as a whole. Still, there is one headliner that the Bengals coached at the Senior Bowl and I have projected, as of now, their first round pick on April 25th. That, of course, is B.J. Raji. Raji had a dominant week in Mobile similar to the week that Top 10 pick Sedrick Ellis had just a year ago. Raji may not be quite as quick as Ellis, but he's a very good prospect in his own right. Raji is a big guy, thick and strong, but is surprisingly quick and mobile for his size. He can hold his ground in the run game and has shown the skills to be disruptive as a pass-rusher, collapsing the pocket. Is he worth the #6 Overall pick? Perhaps.

If not Raji in the first, it is conceivable we look for value later on. Evander "Ziggy" Hood would provide solid value at our second round pick and is a penetrator in the John Thornton mold. Ron Brace is another 2nd Round value, though he is much more of a two-gap run-stuffer than a pass-rusher. Alex Magee, out of Purdue, is another player the Bengals coached in Mobile. Magee is a penetrator on the rise. He would be a nice addition in the 3rd or 4th. Chris Baker, an underrated player from Hampton, has 2nd-3rd round talent, but has attitude issues and could last until the 4th. In the late rounds, a guy I'm high on is Memphis' Clinton McDonald, an excellent penetrator. McDonald is undersized and hardly strong anchoring against the run, still he is an underrated pass-rusher and a guy who really lit it up during during the Texas vs. The Nation week. Ohio State's Nader Abdallah is another player to touch on as he was a very nice rotational player for the Buckeyes. He may have the ability to be a better pro than college player.

ThePudge's Top Defensive Tackle Rankings as of 3/4/09
1. B.J. Raji – Boston College – Top 10 (NT)
2. Peria Jerry – Mississippi – Top 25
3. Evander “Ziggy” Hood – Missouri – Second Round
4. Ron Brace – Boston College – Early 2nd-Early 3rd (NT)
5. Sen’Derrick Marks – Auburn – Late 2nd-Mid 3rd
6. Fili Moala – USC – Late 2nd-Mid 3rd
7. Alex Magee – Purdue – Early 3rd-Early 4th
8. Chris Baker – Hampton – Mid 3rd-Early 5th
9. Terrance Taylor – Michigan – Late 3rd-Mid 5th (NT)
10. Mitch King – Iowa – Mid 4th-Late 5th
11. Roy Miller – Texas – Late 4th-Early 6th
12. Sammie Lee Hill – Stillman – Mid 4th-Mid 6th (NT)
13. Dorrell Scott – Clemson – Late 4th-Mid 6th
14. Corvey Irvin – Georgia – Early 5th-Late 6th
15. Vance Walker – Georgia Tech – Mid 5th-Late 6th
16. Ricky Jean-Francois – LSU – Mid 5th-Early 7th
17. Khalif Mitchell – East Carolina – Mid 5th-Early 7th (3-4 DE)
18. John Gill – Northwestern – Late 5th-Early 7th
19. Clinton McDonald – Memphis – Late 5th-Mid 7th
20. Demonte’ Bolden – Tennessee – Mid 5th-Mid 7th
21. Marlon Pryor – Kentucky – Early 6th-Late 7th
22. Terrance Knighton – Temple – Mid 6th-UDFA (NT)
23. Daryl Richard – Georgia Tech – Late 6th-UDFA
24. Nader Abdallah – Ohio State – 7th Round-UDFA
25. Adrian Grady – Louisville – 7th Round-UDFA

5. Middle Linebacker
- Dhani Jones showed the past two years that he may have a bit more left than many thought when he left Philadelphia. While Jones is by no means a star player, he is a quality starter and a high-energy leader on and off the field. It is highly unlikely that Jones is unseated this season as the starter in the middle as he is the veteran leader there. Still, Jones' play will likely start to decline soon because of age and talented backups Ahmad Brooks and Odell Thurman never exactly panned out. What the team is left with is an aging starter and very little depth behind him. This year's crop of MLB's is not all too strong and has been fueled mostly by hype at this point with two fringe first round values in USC's Rey Maualuga, a big, physical, instinctual, downhill, thumper in the middle and Ohio State's James Laurinaitis, who plays with great instincts, range, and is a true student of the game. Still, if neither of the two noted above are available when the team picks 38th, they will likely have to look to the second day to find their man.

Darry Beckwith (LSU) is a good fit and a 3rd-4th Round value. Beckwith doesn't do anything exceptionally, but he is smart and does everything fairly well. After Beckwith, the crop once again drops off a bit, with a number of fits at 3-4 ILB. An intriguing player to watch is Georgia's Dannell Ellerbe, who draws comparisons to Odell Thurman in more ways than one. Still, Ellerbe didn't play much of his senior season, he is undersized, and like Thurman, has major attitude concerns. Stanley Arnoux (Wake Forest) is a player I'd watch for in the middle rounds, though he was largely overshadowed on his own team by Aaron Curry, Alphonso Smith, and Chip Vaughn this past year. Still, he plays fast and with plenty of effort and would provide value on special teams and defense any time after our early fourth round pick. Jamar Chaney, from Mississippi State, and Maurice Crum Jr., Notre Dame, are two names to keep in the back of your head late as each has the experience and athletic makeup the team seems to desire.

ThePudge's Top Middle Linebacker Rankings as of 3/4/09
1. Rey Maualuga – USC – Mid 1st-Early 2nd
2. James Laurinaitis – Ohio State – Mid 1st-Late 2nd
3. Darry Beckwith – LSU – Early 3rd-Early 4th
4. Jasper Brinkley – South Carolina – Late 3rd-Early 5th
5. Stanley Arnoux - Wake Forest - Mid 4th-Mid 5th
6. Dannell Ellerbe – Georgia – Mid 4th-Early 6th
7. Jason Phillips – TCU – Late 4th-Early 6th
8. Antonio Appleby – Virginia – Early 5th-Mid 6th
9. Scott McKillop – Pittsburgh – Mid 5th-Early 7th
10. Frantz Joseph – Florida Atlantic – Late 5th-Mid 7th
11. Worrell Williams – California – Early 6th-Mid 7th
12. Jamar Chaney – Mississippi State – Mid 6th-UDFA
13. Josh Mauga – Nevada – Mid 6th-UDFA
14. Daniel Holtzclaw – Eastern Michigan – 7th Round-UDFA
15. Maurice Crum Jr. – Nortre Dame – 7th Round-UDFA

6. Running Back
- The re-signing of Cedric Benson was, in a word, huge. Still with Chris Perry penciled into the #2 spot, second year James Johnson at the #3, DeDe Dorsey at #4, and Benson only on board for a confirmed two years, Running Back remains a need. Marvin Lewis, even after the re-signing of Benson, emphasized the need for more big plays in the running game. Since the team has not bothered to talk to veteran backs J.J. Arrignton, LaMont Jordan, etc., It appears obvious, at this point, that the Bengals will be targeting a back somewhere in the upcoming draft. The situation is not exactly dire by any means, but it would be nice to add a 3rd Round back, a special team contributor, or eventually, a starting back.

Whether it be an early value such as LeSean McCoy, Knowshon Moreno, or Donald Brown in the second round or maybe a third-fourth change-of-pace back such as Texas A&M's Mike Goodson, Wyoming's Devin Moore, Purdue's Kory Sheets, or Virginia's Cedric Peerman among others. There really isn't a back in this strong class that doesn't fit for Cincinnati though, as they could look at a bigger back such as Andre Brown (NC State), Shonn Greene (Iowa) or Rashad Jennings (Liberty.) Kory Sheets, noted above, is interesting as he fits that change-of-pace mold with big play ability, special teams value, vision, the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, and a connection with the coaches as he played for the North at the Senior Bowl. In the same sense the team has a connection to Cedric Peerman, who has raised his stock by leaps and bounds through the Senior Bowl and Combine. A back late that could draw some interest, is Abilene Christian's Bernard Scott. Scott has been arrested five times during his college career and has bounced around schools quite a bit over the years. Still despite anger issues (perhaps psychological), Scott is a tremendous talent and nearly the total package at Running Back. Due to the inconsistencies of his character, I am by no means guaranteeing success at the next level. Scott, though, is a first day talent that can be had much later on. His vision, speed, quickness, ability out of the backfield as a receiver, and balance as a runner is unheard of at a mid-late round level.

ThePudge's Top Running Back Rankings as of 3/4/09
1. Chris “Beanie” Wells – Ohio State – Top 20
2. Knowshon Moreno – Georgia – Top 32
3. LeSean McCoy – Pittsburgh – Late 1st-Mid 2nd
4. Donald Brown – Connecticut – Late 1st-Mid 2nd
5. Andre Brown – North Carolina State – Late 2nd-Mid 3rd
6. Shonn Greene – Iowa – Late 2nd-Mid 3rd
7. Mike Goodson – Texas A&M – Late 2nd-Early 4th
8. Rashad Jennings - Liberty - Late 2nd-Early 4th
9. Devin Moore – Wyoming – Mid 3rd-Early 4th
10. Javon Ringer – Michigan State – Late 3rd-Mid 4th
11. Kory Sheets - Purdue - Late 3rd-Early 5th
12. James Davis - Clemson - Late 3rd-Early 5th
13. Cedric Peerman – Virginia – Mid 4th-Early 5th
14. Glen Coffee – Alabama – Late 4th-Early 6th
15. Bernard Scott – Abilene Christian – Mid 5th-Late 6th
16. Jeremiah Johnson – Oregon – Mid 5th-Mid 6th
17. Javarris Williams – Tennessee State – Late 5th-Early 7th
18. Aaron Brown – TCU – Early 6th-Mid 7th
19. Arian Foster – Tennessee – Early 6th-Mid 7th
20. Ian Johnson – Boise State – Mid 6th-Late 7th

7. Strongside Linebacker
- SLB is probably not an immediate need since the team tendered both the 2008 starter, Rashad Jeanty, and backup, Daryl Blackstock, this offseason. Both Jeanty and Blackstock, however, struggle in coverage, have one-year deals in place, and can be improved upon. It is unknown whether Mike Zimmer plans to build the position's future at SLB though, as Jeanty and Blackstock did play well, both are young, and offer the ability to get after the quarterback. Also, backup WLB Brandon Johnson figures to have the athletic ability, upside, and coverage skills to translate to the other side. That move, of Johnson to the strong-side, has not been discussed publicly however and it is unknown whether that more could be in the cards. Going by the theory that the team would like to get after the QB more, it is conceivable the team could look to upgrade and add a young, high-upside, player. This draft adds some options, both early, and late, to fill this "need."

Aaron Curry, from Wake Forest, is the player everyone knows about. He is a consensus Top 5 talent that Lewis would not hesitate to take if he were to fall to 6th Overall, as unlikely or impossible as that may be. Other USC linebackers, and perhaps the best two, Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews are also nice fits at Strongside Linebacker. Still, Cushing is a likely Top 20 pick and Matthews figures to be gone, at the worst, by Cleveland's second round pick (36th Overall.) That leaves us with the top realistic value being Virginia's Clint Sintim, a natural pass-rusher who may not be having the best pre-draft process, but has four years of film to back his stock. Sintim would be a solid value in the second, and because of his ability to get after the Quarterback, could fit the system. Cincinnati's own Connor Barwin is also rocketing up boards and could be an option if he lasts until the team's second round pick. Barwin, a college basketball player, tight end, and finally defensive end, translates best as a 3-4 OLB or 4-3 SLB at the next level and is brimming with athleticism and pass-rushing potential. South Florida's Tyrone McKenzie, a big, athletic backer, has been a player of interest for Cincinnati since Mobile, and could fit in the 2nd or 3rd, though his value really lies between our two picks there. Later on, in the third-fourth, we see Connecticut's Cody Brown and Oregon State's Victor Butler, two more converted Defensive Ends. Brown, the higher rated of the two, did not have the best Senior Bowl week at first (playing Defensive End against much bigger linemen), but caught on late. His best fit, like Barwin, is at 3-4 OLB or 4-3 SLB. The same goes for Butler who looks to be a 4th-5th round prospect. Purdue's Anthony Heygood is an underrated LB who didn't get a Combine invite but should receive a shot in the mid-late rounds.

ThePudge's Top Outside Linebacker Rankings as of 3/4/09
1. Aaron Curry – Wake Forest – Top 5
2. Brian Cushing – USC – Top 20
3. Clay Matthews – USC – Top 32
4. Connor Barwin - Cincinnati - Late 1st-Mid 2nd
5. Marcus Freeman – Ohio State – Early-Mid 2nd
6. Clint Sintim – Virginia – Early-Mid 2nd
7. Gerald McRath – Southern Mississippi – Late 2nd-Late 3rd
8. Tyrone McKenzie – South Florida – Late 2nd-Late 3rd
9. Cody Brown – Connecticut – Early 3rd-Early 4th
10. Kaluka Maiava – USC – Early 4th-Late 5th
11. Victor Butler – Oregon State – Early 4th-Mid 5th
12. Jonathan Casillas – Wisconsin – Early 4th-Mid 5th
13. Zack Follett – California – Mid 4th-Late 5th
14. DeAndre Levy – Wisconsin – Late 4th-Early 6th
15. Lee Robinson – Alcorn State – Late 4th-Early 6th
16. Anthony Heygood – Purdue – Early 5th-Mid 6th
17. Nic Harris – Oklahoma – Mid 5th-Late 6th
18. Ashlee Palmer – Mississippi – Mid 5th-Late 6th
19. Jason Williams - Western Illinois - Late 5th-Mid 7th
20. Anthony Felder – California – Mid 6th-UDFA

8. Cornerback
- As far as starters go, we are set with 2006 & 2007 first round picks Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall. Nickel Cornerback David Jones also showed flashes a year ago, though at times he was frustrating to watch. Undrafted rookie Simeon Castille showed some promise as well. Still, the unit as a whole has been injury prone, and it has exposed a lack of depth at the position. The team could target a cheap veteran free agent, as they normally do, but right now that looks quite unlikely. Ideally, we'd like to grab a #3 or #4 corner in the mid-rounds that can offer playmaking potential, some versatility, and perhaps the ability to return punts. Since the position is by no means a "must" in the draft I will only touch on a few brief possibilities after the third round or so. Sherrod Martin, out of Troy, is an option in the third or fourth round and brings the versatility, special teams value, and raw athleticism to be a contributor early if the team takes an early shot. Virginia Tech's Victor "Macho" Harris offers the potential as a #3 Cornerback/Free Safety/Punt Returner and could be available in the fourth round. UC's DeAngelo Smith in the 4th-5th is another player that could assume a similar role. Finally, South Carolina underclassman Captain Munnerlyn has that upside at CB/FS/PR as well, but comes with a few attitude concerns. Munnerlyn is probably a 3rd Round value that can be had as late as the 5th Round or so, making him a guy to keep an eye on. LaDarius Webb (Nicholls State) and Tony Carter (Florida State) are names to look for later on, as they each fit the description I elaborated on above.

ThePudge's Top Cornerback Rankings as of 3/4/09
1. Malcolm Jenkins – Ohio State – Top 10 (FS)
2. Vontae Davis – Illinois – Top 32
3. Alphonso Smith – Wake Forest – Late 1st-Early 2nd
4. Sean Smith – Utah – Late 1st-Early 2nd (FS)
5. Darius Butler - Connecticut - Late 1st-Mid 2nd
6. Coye Francies – San Jose State – Second Round
7. D.J. Moore – Vanderbilt – Second Round
8. Jairus Byrd – Oregon – Late 2nd-Mid 3rd
9. Sherrod Martin – Troy – Mid 3rd-Early 4th (FS)
10. Cary Harris – USC – Mid 3rd-Mid 4th
11. Bruce Johnson – Miami – Late 3rd-Late 4th
12. Bradley Fletcher – Iowa – Late 3rd-Early 5th
13. Victor “Macho” Harris – Virginia Tech – Late 3rd-Early 5th (FS)
14. Kevin Barnes – Maryland – Late 3rd-Early 5th
15. Mike Mickens – Cincinnati – Early 4th-Early 5th
16. Asher Allen – Georgia – Early 4th-Mid 5th
17. Jerraud Powers – Auburn – Mid 4th-Mid 5th
18. Chris Owens – San Jose State – Mid 4th-Mid 5th
19. DeAngelo Smith – Cincinnati – Late 4th-Late 5th (FS)
20. Brandon Underwood – Cincinnati – Late 4th-Early 6th (FS)
21. Captain Munnerlyn – South Carolina – Late 4th-Early 6th
22. Mark Parson – Ohio University – Mid 5th-Early 7th
23. Joe Burnett – Central Florida – Mid 5th-Early 7th
24. Ryan Palmer – Texas – Late 5th-Mid 7th
25. Keenan Lewis – Oregon State – Late 5th-Mid 7th
26. Donald Washington – Ohio State – Late 5th-Mid 7th
27. Domonique Johnson – Jackson State – Late 5th-Mid 7th
28. Brandon Hughes – Oregon State – Early 6th-Late 7th
29. LaDarius Webb – Nicholls State – Mid 6th-UDFA
30. Tony Carter – Florida State – 7th Round-UDFA


"Needs" to touch on

- Even after the signing of Coles, the team could still conceivably target a Wide Receiver fairly early if the value is right. The Bengals go five deep with Chad Johnson, Laverneus Coles, Chris Henry, Andre Caldwell, and Jerome Simpson. Yet, with Chad set to become a free agent in 2010, a #1 type can not be counted out exactly. The move would not be wise, nor would it be necessary, but it is possible if the right value presents itself. Michael Crabtree at 6th Overall is a slight possibility, though unlikely. If Hakeem Nicks or Kenny Britt is sitting at the top of the second, I cannot guarantee the team wouldn't take a shot. A late-round receiver to add competition, depth, and perhaps special teams value can not be counted out either.

ThePudge's Top Wide Receiver Rankings as of 3/4/09
1. Jeremy Maclin – Missouri – Top 15
2. Michael Crabtree – Texas Tech – Top 10
3. Darrius Heyward-Bey – Maryland – Top 20
4. Percy Harvin – Florida – Top 32
5. Hakeem Nicks – North Carolina – Late 1st-Mid 2nd
6. Kenny Britt – Rutgers – Late 1st-Mid 2nd
7. Brian Robiskie – Ohio State – Second Round
8. Pat White – West Virginia – Mid 2nd-Mid 3rd (QB)*
9. Juaquin Iglesias – Oklahoma – Late 2nd-Mid 3rd
10. Ramses Barden – Cal-Poly – Early 3rd-Early 4th
11. Brandon Tate – North Carolina – Mid 3rd-Early 4th
12. Louis Murphy – Florida – Mid 3rd-Mid 4th
13. Mohamed Massaquoi - Georgia – Late 3rd-Late 4th
14. Jarrett Dillard – Rice – Fourth Round
15. Demetrius Byrd – LSU – Early 4th-Early 5th
16. Kenny McKinley – South Carolina – Early 4th-Early 5th
17. Derrick Williams – Penn State – Late 3rd-Mid 5th
18. Brooks Foster – North Carolina – Early 4th-Mid 5th
19. Mike Thomas – Arizona – Mid 4th-Late 5th
20. Sammie Stroughter – Oregon State – Mid 4th-Late 5th
21. Mike Wallace – Mississippi – Mid 5th-Early 7th
22. Marko Mitchell – Nevada – Mid 5th-Early 7th
23. Deon Butler – Penn State – Late 5th-Mid 7th
24. Dominique Edison – Stephen F. Austin – Late 5th-Late 7th
25. Aaron Kelly – Clemson – Early 6th-Late 7th
26. Austin Collie – BYU - Mid 6th-UDFA
27. Jordan Norwood – Penn State – Late 6th-UDFA
28. Tiquan Underwood – Rutgers – 7th Round-UDFA
29. Quan Cosby – Texas – 7th Round-UDFA
30. Brian Hartline – Ohio State – 7th Round-UDFA

- As of 3/4/09, Kicker Shayne Graham holds the Franchise Tag and a one year deal. While Graham is a good, reliable, accurate kicker, he does leave something to be desired in terms of leg strength. Graham has his struggles from 45 out despite his accuracy and is not the best kickoff man. Punter Kyle Larson also has a short term deal in place and remains a fairly mediocre. Ryan Plackemeier It is not entirely likely, but quite possible that the team looks to add a Kicker or Punter in the late rounds on April 26th or in Free Agency following the draft. The short list below may not be as extensive as some at this point, but the players fit and could be in stripes next season.

ThePudge's Top Specialist Rankings as of 3/4/09
1. Graham Gano – Florida State – Late 5th-UDFA (K/P)
2. Kevin Huber – Cincinnati – Late 5th-UDFA (P)
3. David Buehler – USC – Mid 6th-UDFA (K)
4. Thomas Morstead – SMU – Mid 6th-UDFA (P)
5. Ryan Succop – South Carolina – UDFA (K)

First Round Breakdown

First Round - 6th Overall
- For the second time in two years, the Bengals will be drafting in the Top 10. Of course this season, the team is looking at completely different options. Going into the 2008 Draft, the Offensive Line looked like a relative strength of the team with veteran experience (LT - Levi Jones, RT - Willie Anderson, and RG - Bobbie Williams) and young promise (Andrew Whitworth - LG/LT and Stacy Andrews - LG/RT). Fast forward to 2009, Willie Anderson is long-gone, Levi Jones looks and plays five years older than he is, and Stacy Andrews is one of the newest members of the Philadelphia Eagles. Now, as I elaborated on earlier, Offensive Tackle looks like the most likely route to go with our first round pick, with four viable options. Still, I am open-minded toward the draft process and have decided to take some extra time and look at every possibility this year. At 6th Overall, the pick could realistically come down to one of ten players at this point, rather broad for such an early pick.

The top priority in the first round would be Offensive Tackle, with Baylor's Jason Smith or Virginia's Eugene Monroe. Still there is no guarantee either will be there when we pick at 6th. Both are pure Left Tackle prospects. Smith has the higher ceiling, Monroe has the higher floor. Many lists have the two very closely ranked, but personally I think the gap is wider. Jason Smith, to me, is the clear-cut #1 Offensive Tackle in this draft. Smith is a former Tight End playing with elite athleticism, quick feet, tremendous agility, and surprising strength. He is by no means perfect, as he is a bit inexperienced both as an Offensive Tackle and as a Run Blocker. He rarely, if ever, had to get into an NFL stance at Baylor where the offense was a wide-open spread this past year. He is not a bad run blocker, his technique is not poor, he is just raw. Though raw, Jason Smith is an extremely hard worker with a genuine desire to be the best player at his position. He is a student of the game and interviewed off the charts at the Combine. He may not have checked in quite as impressive in agility tests (timed), but he really showed up in positional drills, was stronger than anyone really expected (33 Reps of 225), and as I mentioned, really impressed in his interviews. Unlike some other pass-blocking, true LT types, he has a true mean streak and practices how he plays. Recently Smith held his Pro Day, with personnel from at least 15 teams on hand even though he had planned all along to stand on his Combine numbers. The Bengals own Paul Alexander was in attendance and seems to really like Jason Smith. It is, however, unlikely Smith lasts until 6th, let alone 3rd, as the St. Louis Rams at 2nd Overall seem to have taken to him.

Eugene Monroe is the consensus "safe" pick at Offensive Tackle. Monroe is proven, experienced, athletic, and just has that Left tackle look to him. He may not share Smith's "All-Pro" potential, but he is plenty capable of being a multiple Pro-Bowler if he lives up to his potential and keep his head in the game. Eugene is simply a very solid all-around player, athletic, plays fairly strong, good technique, plenty of experience on the left side against a high level of competition, a very good pass-blocker, and a more than adequate run blocker. He may not have any standout qualities really, but he also doesn't have any glaring weaknesses in his game. He's simply a natural talent at Left Tackle, natural enough to keep Top 15 pick, Branden Albert, inside at Guard at college. He follows a strong line of UVA recent Left Tackles. Off the field could be a different story though. Monroe is a good character, laid back, coachable, hardly a trouble-maker; however, unlike Jason Smith, his heart is a big question. Is he too laid back on the field? Is he a student of the game? Does he have a passion for football or any degree of football intelligence? How much of a concern are his knee injuries? Those questions may push him out of the Top 5 and into our laps at 6th Overall. Still, can Paul Alexander work with a player this laid-back on the field and in practice? I would be more wary about Eugene Monroe than Jason Smith personally. He is an undeniable natural talent though and I would be hardly heart-broken if he was in stripes next year, he needs to be ridden by his coaches though to get the best out of him.

Andre Smith, one of the draft's top talents, may have lost a lot of ground at the Combine & Sugar Bowl and could be expected reasonably to drop in the draft. One thing he hasn't lost is that immense talent. At 6'4 332 with 35"+ arms, he certainly has the size to play Left Tackle and if you go back on film and watch the guy play, he can simply dominate games. He was by far the nation's top lineman this past season. A dominant run-blocker, absolute mauler that has the agility to get to the second level an put defenders on the ground. John Parker Wilson's blind-side stayed clean virtually all season with Smith there. He uses his long arms and strength very well as a pass-blocker. His feet and agility are good, but not elite, you get the feeling he's good enough in that department to be an NFL Left Tackle, but it's the use of his arms and natural strength that best allow him to shut down athletic speed rushers. With that being said, he is still a very talented option at 6. I would not be opposed to drafting him for the Right Side either as he could quickly develop into a Pro Bowl player at RT. Worst case scenario, you could move Smith inside and have yourself an elite Left Guard. Like Monroe though, questions about his work-ethic have really risen and unlike Monroe or J. Smith, he has those questions about his functional athleticism at the next level. He would have to be ridden by Paul Alexander, Bob Bratkowski, and Marvin Lewis in order to achieve his substantial upside.

The final Offensive Tackle in this year's "Big Four" was the only one to show up and play in Mobile, Alabama for the Senior Bowl. He has an award winning novel and movie in the works concerning his life's story. He was an All-American and spent time in college at both Offensive Guard and Offensive Tackle. Unless you are reading about the draft for the first time, you'll know the player I am referring to is Mississippi's Michael Oher. Oher is physically gifted, versatile, experienced, and as naturally talented as well. He has no freakish tools, but talk about a great player at the college level. Though Oher's measurements at the Combine weren't all too impressive, and his Senior Bowl week did not point to 6th Overall (more Top 15), he has years of solid film, and plenty of upside. He is a much better run-blocker than his weight/bench reps would have you believe, and has been very successful as a pass-blocker at the high-competition college level. His versatility and willingness is what could draw the Bengals in, as he is a hard worker and a possibility at any offensive line position (except Center of course.) Still, questions have risen concerning his football intelligence, ability to grasp an NFL playbook, and passion for the game. While Oher is a very good player and prospect, he is, as I said earlier, probably more of a 10-15 talent than 4-8 or so.

Near the top of the team's board has to be Wake Forest Linebacker, Aaron Curry. Now, he likely won't make it out of the Top 5, or even Top 3, but still, you have to imagine the team will look hard at Curry. At the beginning of the season, Curry was a trendy first round pick from those who know football well. By midseason, he was getting attention and more hype in the Top 15-20. Somewhere in between I hyped him up as the Bengals first round pick. Now, March 4th, and it looks like he may be the consensus best player in the entire class. Is Aaron Curry the best linebacker prospect of this decade? A.J. Hawk fans (like myself) and Patrick Willis fans would tend to disagree, but I'll surprise some and say yes, he is. Curry is big, thick, extremely athletic, very active, he plays fast & instinctually, strong in coverage, and he is versatile with the capability to play any LB spot in any system really. He is very smart, mature beyond his years, a leader, and is going to help his team both on the field and in the locker room. In Cincinnati he could step right in and start on the strong-side or middle (more likely SLB) and make a large impact. Here we are, almost two months before the draft, and Curry is already the front-runner for defensive rookie of the year. After turning in a very surprising workout at the Combine, he basically confirmed Top 5 status and sits atop my Big Board right now.

The next logical selection in this wild, incoherent rant would be Boston College's and the Senior Bowl North Squad's own B.J. Raji. Raji was heavily analyzed above in the Mock Draft section in which I projected him to the Bengals at #6. For those that breezed through that section, I wrote: "Raji is a thick, powerful player that gets tremendous push in the run game and is a disruptive pass-rusher. While Defensive Tackle may not be the biggest need, as we have a fairly solid unit and pair of starters (Domata Peko and Pat Sims), but never before have the Bengals had a guy like Raji. The Bengals offseason's #1 priority is to generate a pass-rush and Raji's effect in that could be twofold: 1) Raji is a disruptive pass-rusher that will help collapse the pocket and 2) He takes attention and double-teams away from the edges so talented pass-rushers Antwan Odom and Robert Geathers can work more freely. I am, by no means, calling Raji the next Albert Haynesworth, but he flashed similar dominance all year and in Mobile at the Senior Bowl. He has the connections already to the Bengals coaching staff, who loved him, all he really needs to become a Bengal in April is for things to fall into place (Smith/Monroe in the Top 5)."

Chad Johnson is a free agent in 2010, so, despite the signing of Laverneus Coles and the drafting of Jerome Simpson (2nd) and Andre Caldwell (3rd), it is hardly a guarantee that the team won't go receiver at 6th Overall with two fantastic options. Michael Crabtree is the popular option, though I have held firmly that Jeremy Maclin is the better prospect. The misconception that he is Ted Ginn Jr. II is just that, a misconception. At 6'0 198, Maclin is actually well-built. Though not his highlight plays, he runs precise routes, is willing over the middle, and makes tough catches in traffic. Maclin also shows as much willingness and effort as a blocker as I've seen from any receiver in this class. He offers speed, acceleration, and suddenness, adds a bit of size, decent physicality, soft hands, and willingness to do the little things. Then, of course, there is the return value that he brings to the table. His acceleration, short-area quickness, vision, and straight-line speed is some of the best I've seen at the college level and it's hard for me to put to much value into his 40 time. He's a player that has really shown up on tape the past two seasons, leading the NCAA in all-purpose yards both years. Ginn was drafted 9th Overall in 2007 despite not being half the prospect Maclin is. Though the MIssouri phenom receiver may be drafted below Crabtree and below where Ginn was picked two years ago, I think he's a heck of a prospect and it would be hard for me to be too upset with him in the first round.

Michael Crabtree, the consensus #1 Wide Receiver, my #2, also remains a distant possibility at 6th Overall. Let me start by saying, if we do go receiver in the first (assuming both are available), I assume the team will go with Crabtree. Due to his size, physicality, fluid athleticism, hands and reliability, route-running, and ability to run after the catch, he is seen as more of a sure-fire #1 Wide Receiver, whereas Maclin is a #1 or #2 in addition to Kick Returner and Punt Returner. So with that being said, though I believe Maclin adds more value at the NFL level, I recognize Crabtree as the more likely to develop into a true, typical #1. I wonder about his ability to get separation against NFL corners, to push them around, and use his size like he did in college. Still, it's tough to deny to guy has elite talent. He is much more Anquan Boldin than Larry Fitzgerald due to that somewhat questionable speed and height, but that's not a bad thing. He will probably succeed on short to intermediate routes that allow him to do work after the catch. A very good prospect who I see as a bit overhyped and a bit riskier than some. Still, he has a great skill set to work with and aside from not having the top-end speed you'd like out of a Top 5 player, he is a somewhat complete player.

The final position of interest I'll touch on is Defensive End at 6th Overall. I noted above that none of the top ends necessarily fit the typical Bengals DE prospect, but at this point it would be foolish to count out any possibility, as distant as it may seem. Texas' Brian Orakpo is the most likely to retain a standard 4-3 DE job. Orakpo is not all too big, at 6'3 263, still he is very athletic, very strong, and looked like a classic late-bloomer in his Senior season. He is a very good pass-rusher, though is hardly refined by any standards. He doesn't have any real go-to move at this point and will need to be well-coached. At this point it has really only been bull-rushing. Still, Orakpo is tough, hard-working, surprisingly fluid for his size, and could turn out to be a nice find for a patient team (perhaps Cincinnati) in the 5-15 range. Everette Brown, of Florida State, has perhaps the most moves and technique in his pass-rushing arsenal right now. He has a nice spin move and uses his hands. He may be short, at just 6'1 1/2, but he is explosive, athletic, fairly strong, and really can get after the passer. Concerns about his true position, height, and weight could push him out of the Top 10. Finally, there is Aaron Maybin out of Penn State. Maybin has a quick first step, is a fluid athlete, and really showed some ability to get after the quarterback this past year. Still, Maybin is very raw physically & in his play, he also, like Brown and Orakpo, is more of a tweener than a true Defensive End prospect. Since Maybin carries perhaps the highest risk of being a bust among these three, his stock seems noticeably lower. Still with a very good Pro Day, it's not unthinkable that the Bengals could fall in love with his natural ability as a pass-rusher.

First Tier
1. Jason Smith - OT - Baylor
2. Aaron Curry - OLB - Wake Forest
3. Eugene Monroe - OT - Virginia
Second Tier
4. B.J. Raji - DT - Boston College
5. Andre Smith - OT - Alabama
6. Michael Crabtree - WR - Texas Tech
Third Tier
7. Michael Oher - OT - Mississippi
8. Brian Orakpo - DE - Texas
9. Jeremy Maclin - WR/RS - Missouri
10. Everette Brown - DE - Florida State
11. Aaron Maybin - DE - Penn State
12. Brian Cushing - OLB - USC

Some additional thoughts

- The team figures to have two compensation picks this season, a 3rd/4th & 6th and also the loss of Houshmanzadeh gives the team a likely 3rd Round compensation pick a year from now. Those picks cannot be traded; however, knowing that could, possibly, influence a Cincinnati decision to trade up a bit in 2009 in the 2nd/3rd/4th if the right situation were to arise. With an extra pick, fairly high, in 2010 the Bengals may be a bit more willing to part ways with a 2010's 3rd/4th in a package to move up this year. Of course, this is me over-thinking things and in no way is this an exact science, it is an educated guess.

- At the beginning of the second round, 38th Overall, the Bengals could be looking at an abundance of first round talent. Though I'd like to say the team will look at Center with Mack, Unger, or Eric Wood, I'm not so sure the team would pass up a BPA opportunity. Cincinnati is known for throwing curve-balls in the second and I would not be shocked if, well, the team shocked us. Next time I will be giving a comprehensive breakdown of the team's second round pick.

Thumper
03-04-2009, 10:00 PM
Very good work.

LonghornsLegend
03-04-2009, 10:07 PM
Hot Damn, I think I need to take tomorrow off just to read that top to bottom lol.


Good work though, Mack would be an excellent pick in the 2nd but I think he can go late 1st to so many teams who still need a center...If by some chance he's gone do you see a big difference between him and Unger?

ThePudge
03-04-2009, 10:25 PM
Hot Damn, I think I need to take tomorrow off just to read that top to bottom lol.


Good work though, Mack would be an excellent pick in the 2nd but I think he can go late 1st to so many teams who still need a center...If by some chance he's gone do you see a big difference between him and Unger?

For the Bengals, I think the guy is Mack or Wood actually. I am not going to count out Unger, but the team is apparently enamored with those two. Mack and Wood are a bit stronger, grittier, and more experienced at the Center position. That's not to take anything away from the supremely athletic and versatile Max Unger, but I have been hearing Mack/Wood much more and on paper, it fits. I think Unger has the chance to be a great player, especially in a Zone Blocking Scheme where his athleticism could be on full-display. Still, in a division where a 3-4 is the norm, Mack and Wood look to be slightly better fits.

As for Mack in the first, I am becoming less worried by the day. Miami (Jake Grove), St. Louis (Jason Brown) and Baltimore (Matt Birk) have shored up the Center position in Free Agency. I am most worried about Arizona at 31, Pittsburgh at 32, and Cleveland at 36. Still, for all three teams, there are bigger needs so I'm confident we'll have our pick between at least two of the draft's top three Centers.

hahah As for the post's length, I apologize. I didn't want to give incomplete information so I kept writing and made the thing rather comprehensive as a whole. I was about to add my Big Board and a section on the Second Round pick... but I think it would have gotten a bit TOO ridiculous. Volume II will likely add those two things.

The Ghostwriter
03-04-2009, 11:15 PM
Excellent work, man. I'd take Orakpo over Brown, but I think they'll both do very well in the pros. Overall, a great read.

MooshooGawd
03-05-2009, 12:15 AM
Great post, Pudge!

I am starting to liven up to us taking BJ Raji. Marvin did say that improving the pass rush was the most important thing, and, from what I've seen, Raji does an excellent job at doing that.

Also, would love to get Alex Mack in there in the 2nd round. An aluminum trash can would be an improvement over Eric Ghiaciuc.

My only change would be that I think we should address LB earlier.

j05son
03-05-2009, 12:45 AM
I hope your draft is absolutely wrong as Raji and Mack are the guys I want Cleveland to take...

>_>
<_<

Why the Bengals
03-05-2009, 08:35 AM
I agree with you on Raji. It is not a flashy pick, but having 3 potential starting d-tackles starts a great rotation and frees up the d-ends to rush. Our young corners will only be better with a pash rush. Raji might not get sacks but doubling him or peko leaves 1v1 for our ends.
In the 2nd round any chance they take a RB if Wells, Moreno, Shady, or D-Brown fall? I personally hope not and think we should solidify the o-line(center).. but Marvin wants a game changing back and that could be our curve ball

OneToughGame
03-05-2009, 08:50 AM
I'm glad to see someone outside of Washington giving some love to Juan Garcia.

ThePudge
03-05-2009, 01:40 PM
My only change would be that I think we should address LB earlier.

I would agree, but I think this year it has to be a matter really of playing the value card. The team has not been free to take BPA before the fourth round in years really and it will be very interesting, with relatively few glaring holes (two starters needer at OT/OG and C). If we go Offensive Tackle in the first, Linebacker becomes more of a possibility in the second/third because we really don't need a Defensive Tackle if we can't have a starter and potential star in B.J. Raji.

Tyrone McKenzie, of South Florida, is the kind of guy I'm really keeping my eye on. Darry Beckwith of LSU, Gerald McRath of Southern Mississippi, etc, all are guys I would not mind seeing Cincinnati Bengals in the 3rd Round. I wouldn't be opposed to James Laurinaitis, Clay Matthews, or Clint Sintim either in the 2nd. It really depends which way we go with our first round pick. If we go luxury in the 1st, then we'll have to draft for need. If we go need in the 1st, the draft is open to more "luxury" picks.

ThePudge
03-05-2009, 01:42 PM
I'm glad to see someone outside of Washington giving some love to Juan Garcia.

Very underrated, strong, physical Center prospect who is looked down upon because his team didn't win a game a year ago. If Washington had competed in the Pac-10 this past year, we may be talking about Garcia in the 4th-5th instead of 7th-UDFA.

Iamcanadian
03-05-2009, 01:44 PM
[QUOTE=ThePudge;1530773]-

Offensive Center

I have a problem with your selection Mack who plays a lot like Ghaiciuc, I think they lean toward the better and more physical pass blocker who can protect Palmer, either Wood or Unger.

Offensive Tackle


Even though Beatty is a far better LT prospect than Britton, I believe Britton is the better prospect right now. Beatty has no hand punch to keep DLmen off him and needs a lot of strength training before he's ready to start.

OG's

Duke Robinson has little lateral movement ability and can probably only play for a run first team that likes to run up the gut.

Fullback

I really like Johnson from what I saw at the Senior Bowl but the combine has convinced me that Fiammetta and maybe even Southerland are better prospects.




DE's

I just think Orakpo is currently ahead of Brown for either a 4-3 team(DE) or a 3-4 team(OLB). I've also got this feeling that Gilbert might be the surprise of the draft and go a lot higher than people expect.

Defensive Tackle

Watch out for Hood who had an excellent combine, he's definitely a riser and probably a sure 1st rounder.





Cornerbacks

Jenkins reminds me a lot of Flowers who was leading the CB pack till he ran a poor 40 at the combine. I don't see anyway Jenkins is still a top 10 prospect and will struggle to hold on to the top of the CB group.


WR's

Bey is an enigma, the fastest man in the draft but with poor hands. No way he's ranked above Harvin IMO.


I wouldn't count Andre Smith out just yet. He's only a junior so scouts and GM's will forgive some immaturity if he has an excellent pro day. It's not like he committed crimes, shot somebody or was caught taking drugs. IMO, he is one of the few elite prospects in this draft and I expect him to rise again once he shows pro scouts and GM's how talented he is.





Curry is the highest rated prospect in the draft but 2 things work against him. First, LB's aren't considered a primary position on a football team and using a top 3 pick on a player who will play in a secondary position, will be a tough call for any team in the top 3 or even the top 5. Second, the top 3 to 5 picks get a huge amount of guaranteed money and giving that much money to a LBer is rather absurd IMO.

I have no problem with Raji going top 5 or 6 if a team believes his game translates well to the next level. However I just don't think he is a top 5 talent but the weakness of the top 5 may open an opportunity for him.


I just don't think a team like Cincy can risk taking Crabtree at #6. Palmer has a lot to do with making his receivers look a lot better than they really are and that should influence them to wait to see if somebody can step up and replace TJ before rushing out to draft a WR in round 1.




I question the 1st tier. IMO Curry, Crabtree and Andre Smith have the POTENTIAL to be elite. Jason Smith is an excellent prospect but he's not elite IMO. He'll still be an excellent pro for over a decade if health isn't an issue but he is far from a finished product. Monroe as I said earlier, is the best pass blocker in this draft but his run blocking leaves a lot to be desired. Obviously Crabtree and Andre have serious questions about their right to be in tier 1 as well. This draft is truly weak at the top end and teams could go in many directions. I see a draft where the 12-15 group may be equal prospects to the top 5 group with little separating them.



Obviously Cincy has limitations in its scouting process probably due to a lack of financial resources and predicting their draft is always a crap shoot. However your choices in rounds 1 and 2 seem about right to me although Wood or Unger could replace Mack.

ThePudge
03-05-2009, 02:47 PM
[QUOTE=ThePudge;1530773]-

Offensive Center

I have a problem with your selection Mack who plays a lot like Ghaiciuc, I think they lean toward the better and more physical pass blocker who can protect Palmer, either Wood or Unger.

Offensive Tackle


Even though Beatty is a far better LT prospect than Britton, I believe Britton is the better prospect right now. Beatty has no hand punch to keep DLmen off him and needs a lot of strength training before he's ready to start.

OG's

Duke Robinson has little lateral movement ability and can probably only play for a run first team that likes to run up the gut.

Fullback

I really like Johnson from what I saw at the Senior Bowl but the combine has convinced me that Fiammetta and maybe even Southerland are better prospects.




DE's

I just think Orakpo is currently ahead of Brown for either a 4-3 team(DE) or a 3-4 team(OLB). I've also got this feeling that Gilbert might be the surprise of the draft and go a lot higher than people expect.

Defensive Tackle

Watch out for Hood who had an excellent combine, he's definitely a riser and probably a sure 1st rounder.





Cornerbacks

Jenkins reminds me a lot of Flowers who was leading the CB pack till he ran a poor 40 at the combine. I don't see anyway Jenkins is still a top 10 prospect and will struggle to hold on to the top of the CB group.


WR's

Bey is an enigma, the fastest man in the draft but with poor hands. No way he's ranked above Harvin IMO.


I wouldn't count Andre Smith out just yet. He's only a junior so scouts and GM's will forgive some immaturity if he has an excellent pro day. It's not like he committed crimes, shot somebody or was caught taking drugs. IMO, he is one of the few elite prospects in this draft and I expect him to rise again once he shows pro scouts and GM's how talented he is.





Curry is the highest rated prospect in the draft but 2 things work against him. First, LB's aren't considered a primary position on a football team and using a top 3 pick on a player who will play in a secondary position, will be a tough call for any team in the top 3 or even the top 5. Second, the top 3 to 5 picks get a huge amount of guaranteed money and giving that much money to a LBer is rather absurd IMO.

I have no problem with Raji going top 5 or 6 if a team believes his game translates well to the next level. However I just don't think he is a top 5 talent but the weakness of the top 5 may open an opportunity for him.


I just don't think a team like Cincy can risk taking Crabtree at #6. Palmer has a lot to do with making his receivers look a lot better than they really are and that should influence them to wait to see if somebody can step up and replace TJ before rushing out to draft a WR in round 1.




I question the 1st tier. IMO Curry, Crabtree and Andre Smith have the POTENTIAL to be elite. Jason Smith is an excellent prospect but he's not elite IMO. He'll still be an excellent pro for over a decade if health isn't an issue but he is far from a finished product. Monroe as I said earlier, is the best pass blocker in this draft but his run blocking leaves a lot to be desired. Obviously Crabtree and Andre have serious questions about their right to be in tier 1 as well. This draft is truly weak at the top end and teams could go in many directions. I see a draft where the 12-15 group may be equal prospects to the top 5 group with little separating them.



Obviously Cincy has limitations in its scouting process probably due to a lack of financial resources and predicting their draft is always a crap shoot. However your choices in rounds 1 and 2 seem about right to me although Wood or Unger could replace Mack.

Center -
Mack and Wood are the two more physical of the Centers. I think you're a bit mistaken about the type of player Eric Ghaiciuc is. Ghaiciuc is plenty athletic and a fine pass-blocker on an island, but his core strength is poor and he's not much of a run-blocker. In the AFC North, against Shaun Rogers, Casey Hampton, Haloti Ngata, that just doesn't work. I liken Unger more to Ghaiciuc because of his more athletic, versatile, finesse style of play (of course I believe Unger is the better play of those two.) Mack and Wood are each more physical, gritty, understand leverage better, are better at driving in the run game, and each better fits for the Bengals. Conceivably, Eric Ghaiciuc could make a good Center in a different division or perhaps simply a Zone Blocking Scheme.

Offensive Tackle -
Britton confuses me a bit as a prospect as he doesn't have any real standout qualities that point to him being a great LT prospect or great RT prospect. To me, he is a fairly average-above average prospect all around. He is fairly athletic, fairly strong, high character, hard working, can play gritty, but doesn't have any qualities on the field that really jump out at you. Beatty's athleticism, length, and frame to add weight and strength make him a raw Left Tackle prospect, but with some real upside. I'd rank them even, but Beatty gets the nod from me because of superior upside at the Left Tackle position.

Offensive Guard -
I, too, have my doubts about Duke Robinson and think he's not nearly the prospect some thought weeks/months ago. Still, he is a huge, experienced, fairly athletic Guard prospect that could play LG, but is probably better suited, with Pro-Bowl potential on the Right Side. In the end, I think he goes Mid 2nd-Early 3rd (for some reason it edited in the word document, but must have forgotten to here.)

Defensive End-
I agree that Orakpo is probably better as a 4-3 Defensive End prospect than the more undersized Brown, but I don't see him even as refined in a 3-4 as Vernon Gholston was a year ago. At least Gholston played some Linebacker in college experimentally and in practice. Orakpo, like Gholston, has thrived and gotten by with brute strength and athleticism in college. I believe Brown or Maybin may be better 3-4 OLB prospects. Due to his physical makeup and superior upside though, I think Orakpo may very well be the first one drafted at the position.

Defensive Tackle-
I had the distinct pleasure of watching a lot of Missouri football this past year. With that said, I think you overrate Evander Hood a bit. Hood has been nothing short of excellent in the pre-draft process, but on film, like many slightly undersized DT's, he disappears for stretches. Hood is very much like former Bengals DT John Thornton. Thornton had a very solid NFL career, but I wouldn't take the guy in the first. Hood has nice technique inside, a vicious spin move, he gets leverage, he does have a solid motor, is strong enough, but he can be neutralized for long stretches. He relies more on athleticism and technique than he does pure burst off the ball or strength. I think Hood is firmly in the Early-Mid 2nd Round range, with a chance of going Round One to Indianapolis or Tampa Bay where he'd fit. I would not call him by any means a sure first rounder or a sure first round value. He has had a heck of an "off-season" though.

Cornerbacks-
Mike Jenkins and Leodis McKelvin were pretty solidly the top two CB prospects before the Senior Bowl. We all knew the knocks on Brandon Flowers (size, timed speed) beforehand and he was seen at best as a Mid 1st-Early 2nd Round pick. Afterwards, DRC and McKelvin took over the top two cornerback spots with Jenkins sliding a bit and Flowers more or less staying put. The only reason you'd ever see Flowers up at 11th Overall (the highest you'd see him) would be his distinct fit in the Cover 2 and Buffalo's tendency to not worry about size/speed so much as physicality and ball skills.

As for Malcolm Jenkins, we're talking about perhaps the best Defensive Back at Ohio State in the past decade. Jenkins shows up strong on film, and despite his average timed speed (4.53-4.55), should still squeeze into the Top 15 with Jacksonville (8), Green Bay (9), Denver (12), New Orleans (14), and Houston (15) all in need of a CB. There really is no comparison between him and Vontae Davis. Davis was benched as a Junior, Jenkins was a three time All-Big Ten CB, two time All-American (2nd team- 2007, 1st team - 2008), and the latest winner of the Thorpe Award. How quickly people forget character and film.

Wide Receiver-
Heyward-Bey's combination of size and speed gets him the nod over Harvin. He uses that speed very well too, but never really had a quarterback capable of getting him the ball so, in large, his production never really had a chance. His hands and route-running are raw, but he is a hard-worker with vast physical ability. As for Harvin, I like him, but he is just as raw as a prospect as Darrius Heyward-Bey. He, too, has not run a full-route tree, he is a product of Urban Meyer's system, he played primarily at Running Back, he never returned a kick or punt, he has attitude concerns, and he is a bit injury-prone. I like Harvin, I feel he's an excellent football player, and talent will prevail in the end, but lets not pretend he doesn't have as many/more major question marks as/than Heyward-Bey.



- Agreed on Andre Smith, which is why I list him as a fairly high possibility for the Bengals, 5th at this current time.
- Agreed on Michael Crabtree, but I am here discussing possibilities and I have to add his name to the mix because of the fact that Chad Johnson is a free agent in 2010.
- The tier system for that first round pick factors in what the Bengals want, the type of player they like to work with, need meeting value, etc. It is, by no means, a general big board. I believe Jason Smith has elite upside. Whether he is an elite prospect could be debated, but he has truly elite upside. The Bengals apparently were not very happy with the fact that Monroe could not name one single NFL Offensive Tackle. Offensive Line coach Paul Alexander is one of the teams top, and most influential coaches and decision makers. Alexander loved Jason Smith, and who wouldn't. As for Monroe, injury concerns and questions about his passion for the game really surfaced in Indianapolis.
- I agree though that this year there is not much differentiation between a Top 5 value and Top 10 value.

I_C_DeadPeople
03-05-2009, 05:19 PM
Pudge, please call Mike Brown and offer up your services for the draft war room.

Thunder&Lightning
03-05-2009, 05:44 PM
Pudge is a legend

ThePudge
03-05-2009, 05:59 PM
Pudge, please call Mike Brown and offer up your services for the draft war room.

From what I have seen, Mike Brown is a stubborn man, wouldn't work. I'll be in New York again this year for the draft, I'll just put a headset and suit on, maybe do some card-switching every time the Bengals put in a pick.

ESimsfan87
03-05-2009, 06:15 PM
Fantastic work man... One of the best reads and analysis of a team I've ever seen.

Def. rep worthy.

BigBanger
03-05-2009, 06:28 PM
This is incredible. I don't have enough time to look at nearly a third of it, but great work no less.

I'm not a big fan of B.J. Raji, so I don't like the idea of them taking a mid to late first rounder 6th overall. I think Andre Smith is a real possibility. Lewis has ignored character concerns in lieu of supreme talent. I have been very critical of Smith in the past, but he is the most talented tackle in the draft (without a doubt in my eyes), and coming off the best season of any lineman in the country. Add that to the fact that he still has a lot of potential... Andre Smith could be huge steal at 6. Then, again, he could be a huge disappointment. All these tackles might be overrated, and right now Smith is the best player of the bunch and the most complete of any of them. I also like the potential of Pat Sims. I think he's going to be a real productive player.

Alex Mack could be a stalwart at center for years. He's a exceptional player and huge upgrade. Love that pick and that's a bit of an essential position of need that needs to be addressed very early on in the draft.

Third round, if it worked out that way, I would like to see them grab Jamon Meredith there. He has a lot of potential and could be a real steal. Would also bring some versatility along the line and they could try him at tackle or guard. DE or LB could be an area of need there as well. Darry Beckwith? I think he might go before that, but he'd be a great addition.


I really like Whitworth at guard. I think Andre Smith, Whitworth, Alex Mack, along with Anthony Collins at RT makes for an incredible upgrade over last year. I wouldn't mind watching Benson run behind that.

4th round I'd look more for a Mike Thomas or a Rashard Jennings / James Davis / Javon Ringer type addition for depth at either WR/ST or RB.

SenorGato
03-05-2009, 06:33 PM
I don't think Alex Mack gets by Pittsburgh.

No way they let that happen again after they lost out on their hunt for Mangold.

Mack's the best C to come out since Mangold...totally worth a late first.

ThePudge
03-05-2009, 06:45 PM
Fantastic work man... One of the best reads and analysis of a team I've ever seen.

Def. rep worthy.

It's unrealistic to think, because it did take me a massive amount of time & effort compared to what I can normally put into it, but I wish every team had something similar. It would help us mock-makers. I'm an east coast guy, from Philadelphia, grew up watching the Eagles, NFC East, AFC East, and AFC North primarily. Now, while I get to see a couple, I don't typically see more than a Lions game or two a year (because they are not on Prime time much either for the obvious reason.) The same goes with the Texans, 49ers, etc. Even a team like the Cowboys that I see all the time, I can't say I know how long the team has Greg Ellis signed for, etc. Contracts, off-seasons, drafting styles and histories, all of this plays a part in the draft, studying it and projecting it.

That said, I would love to read a comprehensive breakdown of any team's offseason or draft in any format. If someone posts them, I will absolutely read it and +rep. If someone PM's me one, I will absolutely read it and +rep. I appreciate the fact that some of you guys have taken the time to read some/most/all and I of course will return the favor as it's something I would be interested in.

I spend a lot of time watching football, scanning team board discussions for the teams I can't actually watch, etc. Still, if anyone would like to do anything similar I don't, by any means, consider it "copying" the idea and would love to read. I appreciate the feedback both positive and negative. Thank you.

- Also ESims87, a little more than a month and a half until draft day. Shoot me a PM if you need any suggestions on places to eat around the area or how to handle the whole process because I think (though 19) going to the draft the past four years straight (every year they've held it at Radio City + 2005 at the Javits Center), I can be considered a seasoned veteran.

And as another note to all of you, I am not a guy locking himself in a basement watching football all day and typing. I'm a normal college student, love to party, just can't for the rest of this quarter because of probation, so instead of eating my sorrows away, drinking alone, or exercising (like anyone would do that) I'd rather talk football. Just wanted to give a precautionary measure before I heard the "You have too much time on your hands." haha

ThePudge
03-05-2009, 06:53 PM
I don't think Alex Mack gets by Pittsburgh.

No way they let that happen again after they lost out on their hunt for Mangold.

Mack's the best C to come out since Mangold...totally worth a late first.

The Cardinals and Steelers could possibly target a Center with their first round picks, but I, for some reason, doubt it. Unfortunately, I believe those teams are smarter than that. That's not to say that Mack, Unger, Wood aren't worth a look there, but the Steelers could plug in guys later and make them work and the Cardinals, well, they just have more pressing needs at Running Back (where there will be plenty of value) and Defensive End. The Steelers have needs at Offensive Tackle, Defensive End, and Cornerback. My bet, assuming the value at that point would be DE (Tyson Jackson or Jarron Gilbert) or CB (Alphonso Smith, Sean Smith, Darius Butler, etc.). They can wait on a Center and turn him into a heck of a player.... unfortunately.

I could see the Steelers put off Center until a bit later, maybe go after someone like Antoine Caldwell or Andy Levitre in the late 2nd, or even 3rd. They also could probably turn A.Q. Shipley into the next Jeff Saturday in the 4th. Unfortunately, I think the team can realistically look later at a Center and be fine. I think Cornerback may be where the value is at in the late 1st for them.

If Mack is gone for the Bengals, Eric Wood is a guy the coaches seem to really love and I'd be willing to say he's #2 on their board as a nice fit. I like Eric Wood and would have no problem with him there if we can't have Mack. Earlier it was said an aluminum trash can would do a better job than Ghaiciuc and Wood is a sure upgrade over that metal can haha

Vox Populi
03-05-2009, 06:58 PM
Is someone paying you to write that? Don't you have other priorities lol. This looks like a prime example of procrastinating going terribly wrong.

You should have released this monster in sections cause theres no way many people are going to read this entire thing haha.

ThePudge
03-05-2009, 07:10 PM
Is someone paying you to write that? Don't you have other priorities lol. This looks like a prime example of procrastinating going terribly wrong.

You should have released this monster in sections cause theres no way many people are going to read this entire thing haha.

"And as another note to all of you, I am not a guy locking himself in a basement watching football all day and typing. I'm a normal college student, love to party, just can't for the rest of this quarter because of probation, so instead of eating my sorrows away, drinking alone, or exercising (like anyone would do that) I'd rather talk football. Just wanted to give a precautionary measure before I heard the 'You have too much time on your hands.' haha"

- Actually typed that up in the comparatively small post above. Knew it would come eventually. It's because of college probation that I have all the extra time. Instead of spending it on school work, I'd usually rather talk football. It's something I wanted to write so that Bengals fans and non-Bengals fans could read, so it's more comprehensive than it really has to be.

As far as the sections idea, I could have done that but didn't want to flood the team board. Instead, I posted it as I typed it, one giant monster of a thread. I did use bold, underlines, etc to help divide sections so it is organized. I don't expect anyone to read it in one sitting, it certainly was not written in one. The best I could ask for is for you to be bored, have nothing to do, and read each section individually. I understand if you can't. Maybe some will, but I'm realistic and know the thing is enormous so maybe just focus on the First Round Analysis if nothing else because I know there are threads on the other early 1st Round picks.

Loggerhead
03-05-2009, 09:42 PM
Keep on posting I read it all and loved it. It is shocking a college student like you is able to sound like you know what you're talking about while Todd McPrick sounds like an asshat. Kudos on a job well done and post Volume Two.

ThePudge
03-06-2009, 02:14 AM
Keep on posting I read it all and loved it. It is shocking a college student like you is able to sound like you know what you're talking about while Todd McPrick sounds like an asshat. Kudos on a job well done and post Volume Two.

Thanks man. Volume II will likely come in two weeks or so where I will change up the mock, update rankings, add a full Second Round analysis section, add some player/team observations (where the coaches have been, who they have interviewed, etc.) and perhaps switch up and elaborate on the needs a bit more.

As for McShay, I feel it takes no talent to read off a TelePrompTer (that was the suggested spelling if it looks weird haha.) He scouted Andre Smith, had him at 6'6 350.

MarioPalmer
03-06-2009, 01:23 PM
Pudge, as much as I love your comments and idea, the Bengals only go s far as Carson. I have to believe after the 2 poor seasons by the Bengals and the horrid coaching and front office decisions, I think that this draft evolves around Palmer from start to end.

I can't help but think that an OT in the first as well as a OC in the second are not only musts but locks. Monroe or Smith (Jason) are the guys that the Bengals are going to target, the defense was ranked 14th last year and will only get better with experience and more playing time.

BUt the offense without Carson was dreadful and we saw for the first time what it would be like without him for an extended period of time. And it looked like the Bungels of old.

With the release and almost lock of a trade with Chad and T.J. the Bengals will have plenty of fire power going into draft day to get the building blocks to surround Palmer with.

Chad Johnson is at worst a high 2nd round trade, and at best a low 1rst round trade. That means that going into draft day the Bengals could have 3 top 40 picks. I think the Bengals would foolish to try and draft defense at all in the first 3 rounds.

This team needs to step up and make Carson the man, build the entire offense around him and his strengths. If they don't and they draft defense and don't pick high top tier offensive line prospects they are doomed to fail. And you know thats the truth.

ThePudge
03-06-2009, 06:55 PM
Pudge, as much as I love your comments and idea, the Bengals only go s far as Carson. I have to believe after the 2 poor seasons by the Bengals and the horrid coaching and front office decisions, I think that this draft evolves around Palmer from start to end.

I can't help but think that an OT in the first as well as a OC in the second are not only musts but locks. Monroe or Smith (Jason) are the guys that the Bengals are going to target, the defense was ranked 14th last year and will only get better with experience and more playing time.

BUt the offense without Carson was dreadful and we saw for the first time what it would be like without him for an extended period of time. And it looked like the Bungels of old.

With the release and almost lock of a trade with Chad and T.J. the Bengals will have plenty of fire power going into draft day to get the building blocks to surround Palmer with.

Chad Johnson is at worst a high 2nd round trade, and at best a low 1rst round trade. That means that going into draft day the Bengals could have 3 top 40 picks. I think the Bengals would foolish to try and draft defense at all in the first 3 rounds.

This team needs to step up and make Carson the man, build the entire offense around him and his strengths. If they don't and they draft defense and don't pick high top tier offensive line prospects they are doomed to fail. And you know thats the truth.

You are right to assume this draft and offseason revolve around Carson Palmer, that has been made absolutely clear at all levels. They have set up in front of him nothing short of a terrific receiving core, have brought back Cedric Benson who helped rejuvenate the running game a year ago, they are looking for veteran backup OL and veteran Fullbacks to finish their stint in Free Agency.

The two priorities in the offseason are a) make things easier on Carson, set the guy up for success and b) rushing the passer. Now this is no assumption, this is all public information and we'd be foolish to assume they won't try to do both. The team talked to every single Offensive Lineman at Combine, every single one. They will be aiming to keep Carson protected on April 25th and 26th. Still, in my projection, they would have had to reach at an OL there and they still could definitely use an impact defender like B.J. Raji to help them with priority b.

The defense may have been ranked 12th* a year ago, but the team still had under twenty sacks. That's just not Mike Zimmer's system. Establishing a dangerous or consistent pass-rush, along with staying healthy on that side of the ball, could move the unit into the Top 10 next season. This defense is almost done, they are a much improved unit, but still has to be built on and has plenty of needs.

I fully expect out of the team's first four picks, at least two to be on the offensive line and I fully expect at least three offensive linemen from the draft as a whole. Two out of three picks on the Offensive Line sounds very reasonable and that's what I have projected. Still, if Monroe and Jason Smith (who I very much expect the team to target - see the tiers in the original post) are not there at #6, B.J. Raji is a fantastic option that the team coached and watched dominate in Mobile. Read the "First Round Analysis" section for the complete overview. If they miss out on Monroe + Smith, they miss out on Monroe & Smith. Rather than reach for Michael Oher or Andre Smith, if B.J. Raji is there, I would not be surprised one bit as he could help enormously.

As for trading Chad, I highly, highly doubt it. Chad is still the #1 WR in Cincinnati and the team has made it public they are not shopping the PREVIOUSLY disgruntled receiver. The team said if they lose T.J., they will not be losing Chad. The plan never was to get rid of them. How in the world does that help Palmer? The Bengals team is talented enough that there doesn't have to be any kind of rebuilding phase or complete youth infusion. Chad will be staying put and catching balls in Cincinnati this year. He is actually happy, he is not asking for a trade. He loves Carson, he wanted T.J. back with him, and he still believes in this team and of course, his own abilities. He is a Free Agent next season and will he leave, possibly, but that won't happen until 2010. There is a 10% chance he is traded this offseason now that T.J. is gone.

The Bengals are a team with enough needs to go BPA and not reach early on. This draft is deep at Offensive Tackle, and with scenario b) concerning the OL (see needs 2A and 2B) we could pull a Left Guard a bit later. I'm not overly concerned, my hope though is that two of the first three picks are directed to the offensive line and one of the first five picks we'll have (1st, 2nd, 3rd, comp. 3rd, 4th). See, I feel the same way you do, helping Carson out with at least three offensive players in the first five picks is the way to go.


**** For those of you who read the last paragraph above, you may be confused. I, pessimistically, assumed 4th and 6th Round Compensation Picks. I looked much deeper into the issue today and realized Justin Smith's 6 yr/45 mil (7.5 avg) deal is more than likely good for a 3rd Round Comp. Pick. Landon Johnson's 3 yr/13 mil (4.3 avg) deal is good enough for a 5th or perhaps, if the team is very lucky, a 4th. So, no 4th/6th, it will actually, most likely be a 3rd and 5th. I will fix my Mock Draft accordingly. Sorry about that, I've learned to be pessimistic about a lot of Bengals situations ;)****

roscoesdad27
03-07-2009, 08:13 AM
andre smith is a steal at #6...palmer needs protection and the best remedy is a strong running game and andre smith is absolutely dominant in that department...and he's right there with jason and monroe as far as pass blocking goes...the character concerns are being blown out of proportion...my ONLY question coming into the combine was his arm length but he measured in with the second longest arms amongst o.t.'s.

andre has dominated games in the best coference in college football!!!...didnt you guys watch alabama this year?

stafford
andre smith
curry
jason/eugene
crab
jason/eugene

youll get 1 of your guys because andre goes to the rams, if detroit dont get him.

ThePudge
03-07-2009, 11:18 AM
andre smith is a steal at #6...palmer needs protection and the best remedy is a strong running game and andre smith is absolutely dominant in that department...and he's right there with jason and monroe as far as pass blocking goes...the character concerns are being blown out of proportion...my ONLY question coming into the combine was his arm length but he measured in with the second longest arms amongst o.t.'s.

andre has dominated games in the best coference in college football!!!...didnt you guys watch alabama this year?

stafford
andre smith
curry
jason/eugene
crab
jason/eugene

youll get 1 of your guys because andre goes to the rams, if detroit dont get him.

"Andre Smith, one of the draft's top talents, may have lost a lot of ground at the Combine & Sugar Bowl and could be expected reasonably to drop in the draft. One thing he hasn't lost is that immense talent. At 6'4 332 with 35"+ arms, he certainly has the size to play Left Tackle and if you go back on film and watch the guy play, he can simply dominate games. He was by far the nation's top lineman this past season. A dominant run-blocker, absolute mauler that has the agility to get to the second level an put defenders on the ground. John Parker Wilson's blind-side stayed clean virtually all season with Smith there. He uses his long arms and strength very well as a pass-blocker. His feet and agility are good, but not elite, you get the feeling he's good enough in that department to be an NFL Left Tackle, but it's the use of his arms and natural strength that best allow him to shut down athletic speed rushers. With that being said, he is still a very talented option at 6. I would not be opposed to drafting him for the Right Side either as he could quickly develop into a Pro Bowl player at RT. Worst case scenario, you could move Smith inside and have yourself an elite Left Guard. Like Monroe though, questions about his work-ethic have really risen and unlike Monroe or J. Smith, he has those questions about his functional athleticism at the next level. He would have to be ridden by Paul Alexander, Bob Bratkowski, and Marvin Lewis in order to achieve his substantial upside."

While you may have only had one question about Smith entering the Combine, NFL scouts and the general public had quite a few. Since Smith did not work out and left abruptly, he didn't really answer many of those questions. I was pleasantly surprised to see him weigh in at 6'4 332, some had expected him at 6'3 340 which would have certainly made him a strange left tackle prospect. I was also surprised with his 35 inch arms which measured in longer than any of the top OT's. Still, Andre Smith is a high-risk player and questionable character. As you can probably tell from the media, these type of players don't often work out for the Bengals. Smith is an elite football player, but he has several question marks and has shown, at best, an indifference toward the process so far.

ThePudge
03-08-2009, 04:36 PM
This is incredible. I don't have enough time to look at nearly a third of it, but great work no less.

I'm not a big fan of B.J. Raji, so I don't like the idea of them taking a mid to late first rounder 6th overall. I think Andre Smith is a real possibility. Lewis has ignored character concerns in lieu of supreme talent. I have been very critical of Smith in the past, but he is the most talented tackle in the draft (without a doubt in my eyes), and coming off the best season of any lineman in the country. Add that to the fact that he still has a lot of potential... Andre Smith could be huge steal at 6. Then, again, he could be a huge disappointment. All these tackles might be overrated, and right now Smith is the best player of the bunch and the most complete of any of them. I also like the potential of Pat Sims. I think he's going to be a real productive player.

Alex Mack could be a stalwart at center for years. He's a exceptional player and huge upgrade. Love that pick and that's a bit of an essential position of need that needs to be addressed very early on in the draft.

Third round, if it worked out that way, I would like to see them grab Jamon Meredith there. He has a lot of potential and could be a real steal. Would also bring some versatility along the line and they could try him at tackle or guard. DE or LB could be an area of need there as well. Darry Beckwith? I think he might go before that, but he'd be a great addition.


I really like Whitworth at guard. I think Andre Smith, Whitworth, Alex Mack, along with Anthony Collins at RT makes for an incredible upgrade over last year. I wouldn't mind watching Benson run behind that.

4th round I'd look more for a Mike Thomas or a Rashard Jennings / James Davis / Javon Ringer type addition for depth at either WR/ST or RB.

You must have missed the 2008 season, the Senior Bowl, and the NFL Combine where B.J. Raji put on a show. If he had been eligible in 2007, he may be a consensus Top 3 pick and could be in that top player discussion. He's a dominator when he's on his game. Mid-Late First Round is a little off base and he'd probably be up there (maybe not above) Sedrick Ellis and Dorsey a year ago. I, too, like Pat Sims and I don't consider DT a glaring need, but Sims did his best work when he didn't have to be a four down lineman. Peko, Raji, and Sims could be something special and would definitely help the team's blitz schemes and outside rushers. I agree Andre Smith is a Top 5 talent, but those attitudes typically have come back to haunt the Bengals team. Also, you have to ask the question of his true position.

Jamon Meredith is athletic, he looks the part, but he is inconsistent and doesn't play up to his triangle numbers. I think he will go in the Mid 2nd area and whoever drafts him may regret it. Still, plenty of upside, has a pretty strong initial, very athletic, good feet, LT/LG versatility, but inconsistent and an underachiever. That naturally worries me a bit too much to go for him in the Early 2nd (where we'd likely have to take him.) Cadogan is smart, athletic, versatile, and is simply inexperienced. He could be had a round, round and a half later than the more highly touted Meredith.

Darry Beckwith is a player I'd like to see a Bengal in the Early or Late 3rd where they will have a Compensation Pick. We could use a MLB and I think Beckwith could learn a lot from Dhani Jones, a pretty similar player on the field.

Also, you're right to like Whitworth. He's our best offensive lineman and is interchangeable at almost any OL position.

PalmerToCJ
03-08-2009, 08:56 PM
I'm so glad you're a Bengal fan.

Themes for next season.

-Protect Carson
-Produce out of the running game to further protect Carson
-Protect Carson
-Get to the other team's QB
-Protect Carson

I'm just glad to dump Ghiaciuc. Awful fit for us, he killed the running game. Also excited about Collins whether he plays LT or RT.

While I want them to generate a better pass rush, I'm hoping with Sims improving and Geathers/Odom being healthy things will improve somewhat on that. Not to mention they're still young. The best part about last season was while we generate no pass rush our YOUNG secondary held up very well.

Did I mention we need to protect Carson?

Ronniec513
03-08-2009, 11:29 PM
Pudge,

I have a couple questions about the potential comp picks. Madieu Williams also signed a pretty large deal with the Vikes, he was injured for a good chunk of the year, but if the main criteria is contract size you'd think we'd get some sort of comp pick for him, no?

Also, and I haven't taken the time to do any research on this, but I thought there was something in the comp pick formula that takes into account your teams own signings at the same position as your FA. IE, signing Antwan Odom to a big contract to replace Justin Smith would take away from the value of the comp pick. I could be completely off-base on that so maybe you could help me out.

ThePudge
03-08-2009, 11:53 PM
Pudge,

I have a couple questions about the potential comp picks. Madieu Williams also signed a pretty large deal with the Vikes, he was injured for a good chunk of the year, but if the main criteria is contract size you'd think we'd get some sort of comp pick for him, no?

Also, and I haven't taken the time to do any research on this, but I thought there was something in the comp pick formula that takes into account your teams own signings at the same position as your FA. IE, signing Antwan Odom to a big contract to replace Justin Smith would take away from the value of the comp pick. I could be completely off-base on that so maybe you could help me out.

As far as I know, position doesn't have much to do with it. Due to the size of their respective contracts, Madieu Williams and Antwan Odom should cancel out, giving us only a pick for Justin Smith & Landon Johnson. I'm not an expert on that system either, but I'm pretty sure it's just contract size.

Matthew Jones
03-09-2009, 01:47 AM
As far as I know, position doesn't have much to do with it. Due to the size of their respective contracts, Madieu Williams and Antwan Odom should cancel out, giving us only a pick for Justin Smith & Landon Johnson. I'm not an expert on that system either, but I'm pretty sure it's just contract size.

Two other things that matter are games played and whether or not the player made the Pro Bowl. New England only ended up getting a later-round pick for David Givens a few years ago since he got injured, and players net higher compensatory picks for Pro Bowl appearances. Also, generally a team needs to lose more free agents than it signs in free agency in order to get a pick. New England may not get one despite losing Donte' Stallworth, Asante Samuel, Randall G ay, and Eugene Wilson because they signed five free agents, although since they released Jason Webster, Marcus Pollard, and one other free agent (who I can't remember) and placed Tank Williams on injured reserve, they could end up with a third (for Samuel) and a fifth (for either Stallworth ($35 million) or G ay ($20 million?)) Very confusing. Someone named (I believe) Adam comes on in late March and predicts almost every compensatory pick though.

Flyboy
03-09-2009, 02:07 AM
Pudge, I don't have time to read all that. LOL.

ThePudge
03-09-2009, 02:10 AM
Pudge, I don't have time to read all that. LOL.

hahaha Understood. If I was to direct you toward any particular section it would be the First Round Analysis. That'll give you an idea of the team's early options. Also, feel free to scan the needs (just the needs themselves, not the analysis) and player rankings below them. That'd be the casual reading I'd suggest. Nothing too crazy, but still pretty long.

MarioPalmer
03-09-2009, 11:57 PM
I'm so glad you're a Bengal fan.

Themes for next season.

-Protect Carson
-Produce out of the running game to further protect Carson
-Protect Carson
-Get to the other team's QB
-Protect Carson

I'm just glad to dump Ghiaciuc. Awful fit for us, he killed the running game. Also excited about Collins whether he plays LT or RT.

While I want them to generate a better pass rush, I'm hoping with Sims improving and Geathers/Odom being healthy things will improve somewhat on that. Not to mention they're still young. The best part about last season was while we generate no pass rush our YOUNG secondary held up very well.

Did I mention we need to protect Carson?

I couldn't agree more.


First off, I love your views Pudge, its refrshing to see someone with no Ohio St. homerism when talking about the Bengals, over on their official site its like talking to the Little Animal in every single post. Its either an Ohio SWt. player can fix or it can't be fixed...LOL

But anyway, I definitly see your point with taking Raji at #6, that would be a steal, but I don't think that Monroe will be gone by then so the Bengals have to ask themselves a very difficult question, take the best DL in the draft or the 2nd best OT? Thats a tough question and since there isn't an elite DE like a Mario, Julius, Gaines or what have you, then I think you take the best OT on the board and that being Monroe.

One question that I haven't found an answer to is where is Levi Jones? Excuse my n00bdom here, but I live in the StL, MO and its hard to get good everyday Bengals info so I have to rely on Google and Draft Countdown disscussion. So what is going on with him? Is he completely out of the loop here?

MarioPalmer
03-10-2009, 12:33 AM
Pudge, I don't know if you have the Bengal games on tape, but if you go back to the Dallas game versus the Bengals you can see the potential of this team.

In that game you saw what Carson is capable of doing when protected and more importantly when he has a legit running game. Cedric Benson was fantastic in the Dallas game and really showed that with him running hard and gaining tough yards it relieved Carson from having to complete a 8 or 9 yard pass on 1rst down on every set. And let's be realistic, Carson was only about 80% in that game, so had he been 100% they would have won that game and it would have turned around the season.

That game was a view into the future potential of this team. The only real difference is T.J. will be gone but thats okay if Chris Henry can stay out of trouble and produce like he's capable of doing. Also if Jerome Simpson can finally progress like he should and start filling out his talent that would give the Bengals a great 3 wide out set. Chad, Henry and Simpson gives them a very very good look when running a 3 WR set and with Benson in the back field it gives them a pretty potent offense.

One of the things I hyope they work on is using Chris Perry the way he was used during his first few years in Cincy. He was a great 3rd down back and he was used properly out of the back field then. He ran great screens and was a great dump off option for Carson because of his hands, speed and size combination. I really hope that the Bengals can bring him back to his roots and use him the right way instead of forcing him to carry the load like they did last year. Benson should give the coaching staff the wiggle room to use Perry inb space and get him the ball with a lot of room to work with.

Another problem I have with the Bengals starting lineup and your definitly touched on this, is the Center position. Because this draft has 2 out standing centers in Max UNger and All-American Alex Mack I think it's a must that they address this issue with their second round pick. I know you talked about later round guys, but the elite ability of both Unger and Mack at the Center position is really tough to pass up especially if you believe him to be an instant impact player.

One of the potential free agents that I would like the Bengals to grab, for the right price and if he does get cut, is Orlando Pace. Now if he wants top 10 tackle money then no way, even if he wants more than $5 million, but if he wants say $3-4.5 for one or two years I say bring him in and tell him that the OLT job is his to lose. Then tell Levi Jones that if your interested in getting your starting role back , then go out there and beat out Orlando. As for Collins, I would move him to the right side and allow him to be your athletic ORT that can get to the second level. But I wouldn't count out Levi Jones making the move to the ORT side if you believe that he can actually be an asset over there.

But Orlando Pace has to be looked at, even if it is for one or two years. Nothing pissed me off more last year than seeing Willie Anderson playing for the Ravens and blocking for Uni-Brow Boy while they were making a run in the playoffs. Nothing, I mean nothing made me more angry.

I just know that the Patriots would love an Orlando Pace, so why not us get a crack at him so that he can pass block for our elite top 5 QB? Anyway, just a thought, especially if we go your route of taking B.J. Raji in the 1rst and Alex Mack in the 2nd. Not a bad idea if we can sign Orlando then.

ThePudge
03-10-2009, 07:35 PM
Pudge, I don't know if you have the Bengal games on tape, but if you go back to the Dallas game versus the Bengals you can see the potential of this team.

In that game you saw what Carson is capable of doing when protected and more importantly when he has a legit running game. Cedric Benson was fantastic in the Dallas game and really showed that with him running hard and gaining tough yards it relieved Carson from having to complete a 8 or 9 yard pass on 1rst down on every set. And let's be realistic, Carson was only about 80% in that game, so had he been 100% they would have won that game and it would have turned around the season.

That game was a view into the future potential of this team. The only real difference is T.J. will be gone but thats okay if Chris Henry can stay out of trouble and produce like he's capable of doing. Also if Jerome Simpson can finally progress like he should and start filling out his talent that would give the Bengals a great 3 wide out set. Chad, Henry and Simpson gives them a very very good look when running a 3 WR set and with Benson in the back field it gives them a pretty potent offense.

One of the things I hyope they work on is using Chris Perry the way he was used during his first few years in Cincy. He was a great 3rd down back and he was used properly out of the back field then. He ran great screens and was a great dump off option for Carson because of his hands, speed and size combination. I really hope that the Bengals can bring him back to his roots and use him the right way instead of forcing him to carry the load like they did last year. Benson should give the coaching staff the wiggle room to use Perry inb space and get him the ball with a lot of room to work with.

Another problem I have with the Bengals starting lineup and your definitly touched on this, is the Center position. Because this draft has 2 out standing centers in Max UNger and All-American Alex Mack I think it's a must that they address this issue with their second round pick. I know you talked about later round guys, but the elite ability of both Unger and Mack at the Center position is really tough to pass up especially if you believe him to be an instant impact player.

One of the potential free agents that I would like the Bengals to grab, for the right price and if he does get cut, is Orlando Pace. Now if he wants top 10 tackle money then no way, even if he wants more than $5 million, but if he wants say $3-4.5 for one or two years I say bring him in and tell him that the OLT job is his to lose. Then tell Levi Jones that if your interested in getting your starting role back , then go out there and beat out Orlando. As for Collins, I would move him to the right side and allow him to be your athletic ORT that can get to the second level. But I wouldn't count out Levi Jones making the move to the ORT side if you believe that he can actually be an asset over there.

But Orlando Pace has to be looked at, even if it is for one or two years. Nothing pissed me off more last year than seeing Willie Anderson playing for the Ravens and blocking for Uni-Brow Boy while they were making a run in the playoffs. Nothing, I mean nothing made me more angry.

I just know that the Patriots would love an Orlando Pace, so why not us get a crack at him so that he can pass block for our elite top 5 QB? Anyway, just a thought, especially if we go your route of taking B.J. Raji in the 1rst and Alex Mack in the 2nd. Not a bad idea if we can sign Orlando then.

I am from Philadelphia so typically I get two Bengals games a year on average. I do go to college though in Southeastern Ohio, so this year I got to see every game (or the first twelve at least). I saw the Bengals play the Cowboys, a great game. Along those same lines, the Bengals-Giants game early on showed how much better the team is with Carson.

I wouldn't say the team played near their potential though either of those games. Poor offensive line play plagued the Giants game, a costly fumble really derailed their chances in Dallas. Benson played better than his numbers (10 car 30 yds) would imply. He ran with energy and he finished his runs. Being his first game and following the incredibly ineffective Chris Perry, it was nice to see this.

It would appear as if you forgot about Laverneus Coles when analyzing our WR core. 1- Chad Johnson, 2- Laverneus Coles, 3- Chris Henry, 4- Andre Caldwell, 5- Jerome Simpson. Coles should put up similar numbers to T.J. in this offense. He is not as reliable or tough, but is a bit faster, quicker, and despite size restrictions, the superior blocker.

Andre Caldwell is the 2nd year wideout I'd expect some noise out of this year, not so much with Simpson. Simpson struggled a bit with his development a year ago and spent much of the year and not on the active roster. Caldwell appeared a bit more NFL ready and made the most out of a few late opportunities. He looks like the future in the slot and something the Bengals haven't had in awhile, a good Kick Returner (26.0 avg in 2008.) Jerome may be a case of a 3rd year breakout year, as he still looks a ways off. Caldwell, though, could have probably assumed the #2 role this year if he was forced into it. He looks he could be a rare exception to the Florida WR curse. He may never be a star, but he doesn't have to be. He's a #2 slot type and as I mentioned earlier, an asset on special teams. Give Simpson another year before you mention his name in the lineup.

I think you're sleeping on Eric Wood as a possibility with the 38th Overall. All we hear is the Big Two with Alex Mack and Max Unger, but I wouldn't be sure that NFL personnel doesn't see the top tier of Centers as a Big Three. I like Max Unger, but I'm not sure he's an AFC North Center. He is athletic, he pulls well in the run game, he mirrors well in the pass game, is versatile, and fairly technically sound. The problem, unfortunately, is Unger is not a master of leverage inside and lacks core strength. This doesn't sound like a big deal as the positives outweigh the negatives and make Unger a fantastic prospect. However, when you are required to face Shaun Rogers, Casey Hampton, and Haloti Ngata all twice a year, you have to question if Unger fits. Wood is a bit stronger, grittier, tougher, and overall better suited for the Bengals offense and division. If I were a betting man, I'd say Mack and Wood, a local product, were the top two Centers on the team's board.

It's going to sound harsh but I believe it's time for the Bengals to cut their losses (Chris Perry.) I like the idea of picking up our new 3rd Down back in the draft. Perry is too injury-prone and fumble-prone to really trust and he's not willing to get his hands dirty between the tackles or as a pass-blocker. Chris Perry is heartbreak waiting to happen. Marvin Lewis has mentioned a vision at Running Back. The team wants more big plays in the running game (20 yard+ carries) and a pass-catching threat out of the backfield. The Bengals coached Kory Sheets and Cedric Peerman at the Senior Bowl and have brought in Bernard Scott (an immense talent with immense baggage) for a private workout.

As far as Orlando Pace goes, I don't think so. He's still got some left, but he is injury-prone and chronologically challenged. The last thing I'd ever want is Pace going down six games in and ruining our season. Then there is the money issue. If you read up a bit through the Cincinnati Enquirer or Bengals.com you'll find that the Bengals recent activity has implied they are now rather strapped on cash. Coles is due well over 9 million this year, so the nature of his contract took some cap room away. The Bengals right now have enough room to pickup a Fullback, presumably Kuhn or Tahi. After that, money needs to be saved for the draft and injury insurance.

If we were to look for an older, stop-gap solution. I wouldn't mind bringing Willie back for a year to man the Right Side. He is familiar with Marvin, Carson, Bob Bratkowski, and knows the playbook. He is also an experienced veteran who provides leadership and tutelage for the younger players.

ThePudge
03-10-2009, 07:40 PM
One question that I haven't found an answer to is where is Levi Jones? Excuse my n00bdom here, but I live in the StL, MO and its hard to get good everyday Bengals info so I have to rely on Google and Draft Countdown disscussion. So what is going on with him? Is he completely out of the loop here?

Levi Jones has been hurt much of the past two years. When he has been "healthy" he looks more like he's 34 than 29. The injuries have clearly taken a toll on his body. In fact, Jones may be cut this offseason, depending on how the draft shakes out. It is possible, if he returns to health that he can re-enter the mix, but from what I've seen and from what the Bengals organization has seen the past two seasons, I doubt it.

bengalbuck
03-10-2009, 08:16 PM
Nice post. Just saw it today but last week I posted a mock on a Bengals message board with the same first 2 picks.

I do think Monroe would make a lot of sense if he is there, but I think Seattle is leaning in that direction.

If the top 2 OTs are gone and the Bengals aren't sold on Andre Smith, they have to go with the best Front 7 guy on D. That means either Raji or one of the DE/OLB tweeners. If they try to play one of those guys (Orakpo or Brown) at DE, they are just replicating what they have already (and they have a ton of money already invested in the position) and I don't see top 6 value in any of those guys as a LB. Thus, almost by process of elimination, I keep coming back to Raji.