Let's face facts. What to do at Tight End has been a divisive subject amongst us. There's a good reason for it. Historically, before the dawning of the genius that is Bob Bratkowski, the Bengals were once mighty users of the Tight End position in the passing game. Dan Ross set Super Bowl records. Bob Trumpy is a four-time Pro Bowler and even made the 1969 First-Team All-Pro squad. Rodney Holman was a three-time Pro Bowler. While we're at it, let's give Tony McGee some love. What about Marco Battaglia? I'll stop at McGee.
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis and offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski are going on their eighth together. Of the 101 Tight Ends drafted into the NFL since 2003, the Bengals have drafted two -- Chase Coffman in 2009 and Matt Sherry in 2008. Instead of drafting a young Tight End that's effective in the passing game -- if we're already disregarding Coffman -- the Bengals have elected to rely on guys like Reggie Kelly, Tony Stewart, Matt Schobel, Nate Lawrie, Daniel Coats to name a few. [Your pick: Coats or Battaglia. Who do you got?]. Twice you could attribute to the Bengals making an effort at acquiring a receiving-first tight end. Coffman was drafted last year and the team signed Ben Utecht to an offer sheet that the Indianapolis Colts were unlikely to match in 2008.
Furthermore, now that the Bengals have installed a run-first attitude as their offensive philosophy, there's little reason to believe that Cincinnati will turn about face to draft a receiving-first tight end in the first round this year. In fact, you'd have to think it's a wasted pick, considering they might not even use the tight end in the first place.
Do I think that they won't? No. It just seems unlikely knowing what we know, both historically since 2003 and their offensive shift last season.
But there is another school of thought. And that school of thought does present justifiable points. For one, the Bengals were always a pass-first team that was heavy with wide receivers. Other than adding tight ends in a support capacity, there wasn't a reason to use a high draft pick for a tight end while the team was deep with receivers. Therefore, the talent pool has always been limited in the passing game, the Bengals among tight ends. There was no reason to develop an offensive philosophy that included the tight end in the passing game. At least not in a predominant role.
In the form of a question: Why go after a first or second round tight end when the team could always manage without one while clearly needing other positions previous Bengals squads had to address? Now the Bengals aren't forced to address any specific position. They could draft a safety, a defensive end, a defensive tackle, an offensive guard and yes, even a tight end high in the draft. With a solid tight end in the passing game, the team could finally install that long sought threat by Bengals fan.
I'm not a prophet. The best any of us can do is take the information given to us, dissect it and then give our best opinion. In my best opinion, the Bengals won't draft a tight end through the first two rounds. However, if they do, I'll understand. And maybe now that the team is presented with an opportunity to finally draft a tight end high and use him effectively in the passing game, it might be too big of an opportunity to pass.