Heading into the 2010 off season, the Bengals most important task was to add toys for Carson Palmer to play with. Everyone figured with the Bengals past free agency cheapness, and the large contract given to Laveraneus Coles last season, new toys would have to be added through the draft. Well the Bengals cut Coles the day before free agency to free up money for Antonio Bryant or Terrell Owens. They ultimately chose Bryant. A player that defenses will have to gameplan against, and a weapon for Palmer to use to his liking.
But how does this change the Bengals draft board? Byrant has previous issues with his former teams. He turned 29 years old during the visit to Paul Brown Stadium. Even though Cincinnati signed him to a 4 year deal, Bryant may or may not be able to keep himself in check. So a young WR might still be a high need come draft day. In this case, go ahead as previously planned and take a play-maker in one of the first 2 rounds.
But let's say Bengals management believes Bryant is past all of his previous troubles, and the need for a WR is filled. How does this change what they should do in the first 3 rounds? Well now they have the privaledge to select the best player available, and not many teams have that ability. Here are a few players I would like to see the Bengals draft in the first round.
- Mike Iupati - G - Idaho - 6'5" 331 lbs Iupati is for sure the best Guard in the 2010 draft. Iupati is massive, strong, and has powerful hands. If he gets his hands on the defender, its game over. Sometimes has can use bad footwork and that leads to him overextending his arms and that leads to holding penalties. Iupati would come in and start at Guard for the Bengals, and would give some much needed youth and power to the guard position, and help replace Bobbie Williams if he doesn't resign.
- Brandon Graham - DE/OLB - 6'1" 268 lbs Graham is projected to play outside linebacker at the next level by most NFL teams. But I see him as a hybrid player for the Bengals. Much like Brian Orakpo of the Redskins in 2009. Graham may not have the size to be an every down DE in the NFL, but what he lacks in height, he makes up for it with high motor play. Graham doesn't have elite speed off the edge to rush the passer, but he is a strong and agile defensive end. Graham is very disruptive in the run game where he can use leverage and good hands to break blocks and make tackles in the backfield. For the Bengals, Graham could split time at strong side DE with Jonathan Fanene. This would also allow the Bengals to cut Robert Geathers and save about $4 million in 2010. Graham could also eventually play OLB when Rey Maualuga moves to MLB.
- Taylor Mays - S - USC - 6'3" 230 lbs Mays is a physical freak. Size and speed are through the roof. He is very aggressive vs the run, where Mays can attack the hole where the RB is going. Sometimes Mays goes for the big hit instead of wrapping up the ball carrier. Against the pass, Mays is an enigma. With size, speed and overall great athleticism for the safety position, Mays should make more plays. He needs to improve his technique and not rely on his athleticism to bail him out when he makes mistakes. He has the size to play SS, but he plays center field well and may be more suited to play FS early is his career. It will be interesting to see where Mays get drafted because if a good defensive coordinator gets him, Mays could become an All-Pro.If the Bengals take him at pick 21, he could come in a fill a huge need for the Bengals. Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer seems to be able to squeeze every bit of talent from his safeties, and they play better than they should. So a player like Taylor Mays could give Zimmer his perfect player in the secondary that he can mold into a stud.
I didn't put a TE on this list because I think the real value for TEs in this draft will be in rounds 2-5. Gresham is the best, but the drop off from the Gresham to the next 3 TEs is not that great. Rob Gronkowski, Anthony McCoy, Aaron Hernandez could all be had from round 2-3.