Another NFL season has ended with a fitting Super Bowl to help put the exclamation point on the type of year it was, with surprising teams doing unexpected things. Now we are faced with an off-season that is always too long and full of speculation and hope. Each team now focuses on the future by looking at different avenues to help continue the improvements of the previous season or improve upon its failures. One of those areas is the draft, still months away, and there is no time like the present to take a look at what the draftnicks think the Bengals should pick and why. I did this last season and found that most experts were in agreement with one another; but there were some that may have left you scratching your head as to what they may have been thinking. So without further ado, I present you with this draft seasons' look at who the Bengals should pick.
The NFL Draft Dog is under the impression that the possession receiver has become a lost art and WR Arrelious Benn of Illinois would fit that role for the Bengals. NFL Draft Dog states that Benn has the "size and strength to go over the middle as well as beat press coverage." They also believe his "running ability and sure hands will be very attractive to teams that need a first down producer." However, his biggest problem is finding the end zone as he has a total of only seven touchdowns throughout his collegiate career. This past season was statistically his worst with 38 catches for 490 yards and only 2 TD's. Considering how the Bengals offense struggled to score this past season, Benn does not look worthy of this spot in the draft.
The Draft Countdown recognizes that the Bengals have spent the past few drafts focusing on the defense, but feel it may be time to change their focus to the offense and select TE Jermaine Gresham of Oklahoma. The Draft Countdown states "Gresham has excellent hands, terrific ball skills and body control and the ability to stretch the field vertically. Not only would Gresham finally give Cincy a true playmaker at tight end but he'd also help open things up for the rest of the Bengals offense." The problematic tight end situation for the Bengals seemed to be magnified by the ineffective play of Dan Coats. J.P. Foschi proved to be more effective as a receiver but rarely was a primary receiver in any play, and Chase Coffman found himself on IR after struggling to learn the offense as depicted in HBO's Hard Knocks. While Gresham's 2009 senior season may have been wiped out by a knee injury, he proved to be an effective weapon in the Sooners' game plan during his junior year by scoring 14 TD's on 66 catches. If the Bengals were to select a pure pass catching tight end however, they would have to change their philosophy. Their current scheme heavily relies on the blocking of the Tight End.
The Bleacher Report thinks the offensive line needs improvement and therefore believe the Bengals will pick OG Mike Lupati of Idaho with their first pick. The Bleacher Report states "Lupati is ready to start at either tackle position, but he is especially effective on the left side where he pulls flawlessly in either direction and gets good movement at the point of attack." I would venture to say that this selection would depend on whether the Bengals re-sign Bobbie Williams. If they do not, this pick may not be as farfetched as it may seem as it will help provide depth at the position.
CBS Sports has two writers with differing opinions as to who the Bengals should pick. Chad Reuter thinks it should be Jermaine Gresham whom we have already discussed, but Rob Rang feels the pick should be DT Brian Price of UCLA. After being awarded the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year, Price decided to forgo his senior season and enter the draft. During his junior season, he recorded 48 tackles of which 23 ½ were for losses and seven sacks. With a lack of depth along the defensive line which became evident late in season as the run defense struggled, the continued stocking of defensive talent may be the order of this pick.
The Draft King shares the opinion with NFL Draft Dog that a wide receiver may be the pick at 21st overall. Rather than Benn however, he feels the pick should be Golden Tate of Notre Dame. The Draft King states that Tate "is perceived by some as being undersized, but having him alongside Chad Ochocinco could create all kinds of possibilities for the Bengals." Although he is not the prototypical receiver at 5-11, he finished 2009 with 15 touchdowns and 1295 receiving yards averaging 117.7 yards per game. This would theoretically take double coverage away from Ochocinco, allowing for more big play potential. Unlike Benn, who does not look the part of a first round pick, Tate would be a better choice at this spot if the Bengals decide to draft a wide receiver.
This is just a sampling of the mock draft boards that offer their opinion as to whom the Bengals may pick. As you can see, they all have differing opinions as to what the Bengals might do with this draft. Of course these opinions could change over the coming months as a result of the Combine and what the Bengals do during free agency. As the draft approaches, I will take another look at these sites to see if they change and why.
Note: I did not include Mel Kiper or Todd McShay's picks due to having to pay a fee to get this information - and I am not about to pay hard earned cash to a couple of blowhards whose egos are too big to offer information for free on the Internet.