Right now there are six safeties on the Bengals roster but only Roy Williams, Chris Crocker and Chinedum Ndukwe saw significant playing time last year. When the safety position was thinned out by injuries, Tom Nelson stepped in and played decent but after he was hurt, it showed every Bengals fan (and their brothers) why the Bengals would have to address the position in the offseason.
Geoff Hobson confirmed that the Bengals are likely in the market for a new safety.
"They're probably in the market for a fourth safety. Tom Nelson was a different player after he got hurt."
That is exactly what the Bengals didn't do in the draft (dont' worry.. I'm not complaining, I loved every pick). They did pick up Jeromy Miles though, a college free agent safety out of UMass, after the draft to help add a little depth to the secondary and he put up some pretty impressive numbers in college.
The Bengals had the sixth best pass defense in the league last year, allowing only an average of 203.1 yards through the air per game. The top ten finish in the pass defense is largely thanks to the safeties, however that's not all that they're responsible for. The safeties are also partly to thank for the Bengals' seventh best rush defense (98.3 yards per game), playing like forth and fifth linebackers when a running back squeezes past the defensive line. So if the Bengals have a top ten ranking in both pass and run defense, then why the need for another safety, especially when Williams and Crocker are both healthy?
Depth. Plain and simple. After Williams, Crocker and Ndukwe, the level of competency at the safety position drops enough to make opposing quarterbacks salivate. Williams and Crocker themselves have even been criticized for being poor coverage safeties, lacking the vertical speed to cover deep threats.
Only time will tell if we truly needed to grab a safety this year in the draft or in free agency. If Williams and Crocker can stay healthy and they play like they should, then the one Bengals fan out there who is screaming at his computer right now, "THEY DON'T NEED A SAFETY" will be able to tell Alex Marvez (and three million more people) that he knows more about the finer points of defense than anybody else. But, if they do get hurt or they just don't play well, it will be a different story.
Will Chris Crocker and Roy Williams need help when it comes to pass defense? Will Jeromy Miles or Brandon Ghee fill in at safety in obvious passing situations? Will the Bengals sack the quarterback every time they drop back to pass rendering the entire Bengals secondary useless? We'll just have to wait and see.