A couple of months ago, I took a look at the various 2009 Mock Drafts wondering who these supposed draft nicks had the Bengals picking in this year's draft. That was before the start of this year's Free Agency season, which has an impact on who the teams pick in the draft. Now that the dust of free agency has settled, I decided to revisit the various draft boards to see what changes were made.
The New NFL Draft website initially had the Bengals picking Jeremy Maclin, WR, Mizzou. But now they have the Bengals taking B.J. Raji, the Defensive End from Boston College. They state that the Bengals "are fortunate enough for one of the top Defensive players. Raji recently failed a drug test but I still think he is a top 10 pick in the 2009 NFL Mock Draft" (not my words, theirs). According to PTI yesterday (22 April), the last statement has now been recanted by Sports Illustrated. I believe the Bengals would be remiss if they chose anyone of these players as their immediate need has to be protecting Carson Palmer.
FFToolbox.com writer Forrest N. Long initially had the Bengals taking Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State. Now they have the Bengals taking Andre Smith, OT from Alabama. Their comments: "The Bengals seem to have confidence in Marvin Lewis' coaching abilities, although I am not sure if anyone else does, so it looks like Lewis will be back for another year in Cincy. While the offense struggled in 2008 mainly due to QB Carson Palmer's injury, the Bengals are still lacking a top RB to their offense and the home state pick of Ohio State's Chris Wells will be a very popular pick in Cincinnati, but he would be a reach for the Bengals as well this early. The Bengals have some huge holes on defense so addressing that need is very possible; however getting some protection for Palmer is a much larger need. Although Andre Smith has some concerns, he still could be top OL prospect in the draft at 6'4 and 330 pounds, and he would give instant improvement to the Bengals OL". While picking Chris Wells may be the "popular pick" in Cincy, taking Andre Smith would be the smart pick.
The College Football News website was last updated on 22 January and can be considered not making any changes to their draft board. In case you either are new to our board or don't remember who they had the Bengals picking, it was Brian Orakpo, DE Texas. They state "The Bengals will snap up (Linebacker Aaron) Curry in a heartbeat if he falls. If not, Orakpo would be too good a pass rusher and an all-around playmaker to pass up. His workouts are going to be the buzz of the draft." They may be right with the idea about getting a good pass rusher for the d'line, but that does not help the offense improve from last year's abysmal season.
The NFL Draft Dog originally thought that Aaron Curry, Wake Forest would fall to the Bengals. But now they have the Bengals choosing Eugene Monroe, OT from Virginia. The barking on the street, according the NFL Draft Dog: "Monroe (6' 5" 315 lbs) has great feet, but doesn't stay on his blocks as long as Jason Smith. Levi Jones has been very injury prone and they lost Stacey Andrews to the Eagles." Losing Stacy Andrews to the Eagles and with Levy fighting off injuries, the Bengals would not miss with this choice, or any other prized offensive tackle.
Fox Sports has not been updated since 12 February, so if you have not seen their choice for the Bengals, they believe it will be their pick B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College. They state that the "The Bengals wanted to land USC's Sedrick Ellis last year, but the Saints moved up and snagged him. Raji's no consolation prize. A beast at DT, he's the real deal and had a fantastic Senior Bowl week in Mobile. Cincinnati's D started to gel a bit toward the end of last season; throwing a run-stuffing clog in the middle will only help them in '09 and beyond." They were the only site that recognized the defense coming together which continued to improve on the finish from 2007.
Don Banks of Sports Illustrated has not updated his picks since 23 February, but for those who may have missed his original pick, he likes the Bengals to pick Brian Orakpo. He states that "The Bengals could really use help at offensive tackle or running back, but their need for an impact defensive end probably trumps everything. "O-Sack-Po" is the consensus top-rated end, and his blend of speed, size and athleticism earned him both the Lombardi Award (nation's best lineman) and the Nagurski Trophy (nation's top defensive player)." I do agree with the Bengals needing defensive help. But the need to protect Carson is prevalent - a pick of an offensive lineman would provide more of an impact and improve an offensive line that proved to be infective.
As you can see, some have paid attention to what the Bengals did during free agency and made adjustments as necessary. Most now support the notion of offensive line help being the necessary focus of this year's draft for the Bengals. There are those that think the Bengals will go in a different direction and place their focus on an area that doesn't require the attention. With Mike Brown's pretence for drafting specialty players, a surprise first round pick may be the decision he makes despite what the true needs are for the team.