By John Tuvey, Executive Editor
Bengals Draft Preview
Wants and Needs: It's no secret to fantasy folks that when it comes to the skill positions the Bengals are as stacked as anyone. Sure, they could use a pass-catching tight end to complement the clubhouse leadership of Reggie Kelly—and really, can you fault the Bengals for keeping around a guy who's not among Ohio's most wanted?—but their first-day picks are limited and they have other priorities. Offensive line depth may also get the back-burner treatment, though Eric Steinbach needs to be replaced and the unit as a whole is starting to age a bit. Of course, as has become the familiar refrain in Cincy, priority one for the draft is defense. In all honesty, the Bengals could take the best defensive player on the board with every one of their picks and find a place for them to play, but let's prioritize. Top of the list: a run-stuffing defensive tackle. Close behind, the Bengals need to take another swing at upgrading a linebacking corps they thought they'd addressed with David Pollack (whose neck injury makes his return to football anything but a certainty) and Odell Thurman (whose inability to stay on the right side of the NFL's substance abuse policy has made him persona non grata at Bengals HQ). And additional help in the secondary, specifically a corner to develop opposite Jonathan Joseph, is more a necessity than a luxury. And oh yeah, some help in the pass-rushing department would be nice.
Potential Selections: There's a slim possibility the Bengals punt defense and take Miami tight end Greg Olsen—but that's only if Marvin Lewis is barred from the team's draft room prior to the selection. Assuming that doesn't happen, expect the Bengals to target a linebacker like Florida State's Lawrence Timmons or Miami's Jon Beason, or possibly a pass-rusher like Georgia's Charles Johnson. They'd also be more than happy to jump on Nebraska defensive end Adam Carriker if he falls to them; likewise for a pair of Wolverines, cornerback Leon Hall or defensive tackle Alan Branch. However, where Cincy picks they'll likely find the most value in a linebacker, then carefully using their remaining Day One pick on a tackle like North Carolina State's Tank Tyler or a corner like Texas' Aaron Ross. Players like Florida defensive tackle Marcus Thomas or UNLV corner Eric Wright could provide great value in round two—or later, if their character concerns push them even further down the board—but the Bengals simply can't afford to take that risk given their past transgressions. If a talented tight end such as Delaware's Ben Patrick or Georgia's Martrez Milner, or a quality lineman such as Akron's Andy Alleman or Virginia Tech's Brandon Frye, are still on the board in round four, the Bengals might briefly deviate from their defense-only policy. However, they're far more likely to use those second-day picks to search for defensive help; possibilities include Notre Dame tackle Derek Landri, Arkansas tackle Keith Jackson, Michigan linebacker Prescott Burgess, Alabama 'backer Juwan Simpson, Hampton corner Travarous Bain, and Baylor corner C.J. Wilson.
Round One: 18th pick
Round Two: 49th pick
Round Three: No pick (used in supplemental draft)
Round Four: 114th overall
Round Five: 151st overall
Round Six: 187th overall
Round Seven: 253rd overall (compensatory pick)