If Ellis is gone, could the Bengals draft RB Rashard Mendenhall?

John Clayton writes in a Wednesday blog post:

Mixing it up: Don't be surprised if the Bengals look at halfback Rashard Mendenhall if Sedrick Ellis goes in the first picks. Though running back isn't a need position for the Bengals, the return of Odell Thurman minimizes the need for a linebacker such as Keith Rivers. There would be great value at the cornerback position at No. 10, but the Bengals have drafted well at cornerback the past couple of years. As much as the team would like to help the defense, Mendenhall could be an exciting addition to the offense.

Not only would this blogger be surprised, but he'll bolt down the doors, buy two weeks supply of Ramen noodles and pray the riots don't barge down the front door. It's not an indictment on Rashard Mendenhall who Matt Miller says of the Illinois power back:

Mendenhall is a rare power runner in a spread option offense. He has the ability to run inside and out, with the speed to break away from defenders. Just ask USC. He will need to adjust to lining up behind the quarterback in the NFL, but Mendenhall brings a lot of potential to the position. He is likely to be a top 20 pick.

Kind of reminds you of Jeff Rowe, doesn't it? Draft a guy that's totally out of place because they played in a non-NFL style offense.

Whether or not it's the right move, Cincinnati will be in flames if they pick an offensive guy in the first round. Again, it might even be the best move in the past 20 years. But we're opinionated folk that believe our minds are far more superior than anyone in the Bengals (or the Reds, for that matter) front office. And in our minds, we believe that drafting defense in the first round is a must. If anything, to calm the city folk.

A reader on Chick Ludwig's blog commented on the prospect of drafting Mendenhall:

Did you see the one mock draft (via Yahoo sports) that had the Bengals selecting RB Mendenhall from Illinois in the first round? Oh my gosh! If they do that, I will need a new television because I will put my foot through the one I am watching!!

If you have an analog-only signal antenna on an antiquated television, this might actually work out for ya, buddy. Going back to Clayton's blog, he writes that Mario Manningham visited the Bengals last week. Obvious second-round pick. If I were a betting man, I'd think the Bengals are all but certainly going after a wide receiver in the second round. But the beauty of draft predictions is that it's like meteorology. No matter how experienced or educated you are, you can change your mind within two hours of said prediction and still not lose an ounce of credibility. Well, that's assuming a nerd like me actually has some to begin with. But you know. So is life.

But if Clayton's vision comes true and the Bengals go after a running back because Ellis is gone, and then they turn around and go after a wide receiver, well, I'm leaving town for a month. I hear Minnesota is nice this time of year. Any takers? Two offensive players on Saturday? Man, that would be pretty rough. Though on the upside, this place will go through the roof. I'm sure everyone will have something to say. But come back in two hours. I might predict something totally different.

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