FanPost

Officially looking towards the 2012 Draft

So I decided to throw together a table of the Bengals' positions of need for the next year. I ordered them, roughly, by level of need. I tried to ignore FAs too old for a young and building team as well as impossibles (Ray Rice). I only included players I think would be in the draft through the first 3 rounds, as anything past that isn't worth speculation until the combine.

Positions of Need

Free Agency

Draft

Guard

Carl Nicks (NO)

Ben Grubbs (BAL)

-

David DeCastro (Stanford)

Cordy Glenn (Georgia)
Kelechi Osemele (Iowa St)

Kevin Zeitler (Wisconsin)

-

Corner

Brent Grimes (ATL)
Cortland Finnegan (TEN)

Brandon Carr (KC)

-

Morris Claiborne (LSU)

Alfonzo Dennard (Nebraska)

Chase Minniefield (UVA)

Janoris Jenkins (North Alabama)

Dre Kirkpatrick (Bama)

Stephon Gilmore (SCar)

Casey Heyward (Vandy)

-

Safety

$ LaRon Landry (WAS)

S Reggie Nelson (CIN)

-

$ Mark Barron (Bama)

S Kenny Vaccaro (Texas)

S Robert Lester (Bama)

S Trumaine Johnson (Montana)

-

Running Back

Matt Forte (CHI)

Ryan Grant (GB)

Marshawn Lynch (SEA)

Michael Bush (OAK)

-

Trent Richardson (Bama)

Lamar Miller (Da U)

Montee Ball (Wisconsin)

Chris Polk (Washington)

LaMichael James (Oregon)

Doug Martin (Boise St)

-

Receiver

Dwayne Bowe (KC)

Marques Colston (NO)

Robert Meachem (NO)

Mario Manningham (NYG)

Pierre Garcon (IND)

Jerome Simpson (CIN)

Andre Caldwell (CIN)

-

Justin Blackmon (OK St)

Michael Floyd (ND)

Alshon Jeffery (SCar)

Kendall Wright (Baylor)
Mohamed Sanu (Rutgers)

-

Line Backer

Curtis Loften M (ATL)

Stephen Tulloch M (DET)

Dan Connor M (CAR)

Jarret Johnson O (BAL)

D’Qwell Jackson M (CLE)

Manny Lawson O (CIN)

-

Courtney Upshaw O (Bama)

Luke Kuechly M (Boston)

Donta Hightower M (Bama)

Manti Te’O M (ND)

Zach Brown O (UNC)

Bruce Irvin O (WVU)

Travis Lewis O (Oklahoma)

-

Breakdowns by position

Guard:

Both Nicks and Grubbs would be welcome additions to this squad. Guard depth after 2012 will be scary with only Otis Hudson and Clint Boling under contract. Bobbie Williams and Nate Livings may be brought back. Unfortunately I'm not sure if Mikey will be willing to shell out the cash needed to land these guys, but with this many needs he will have to spend somewhere. And Guard is probably the best place.

Through the draft a Decastro or Glenn would be fantastic. Players that could likely start immediately and are worth the late teen picks we will end up with. Two first round picks makes a top notch guard a pick we can't afford to miss out on unless one of the aforementioned FAs are inked.

Corner:

Grimes and Finnegan aren't exactly #1 corners, and they won't come cheap. Finnegan will likely test the market and Grimes may give ATL a hometown discount. Carr would be a cheap but solid #2.

Much more likely, we draft one very early. This is what the fans want and the pundits are predicting and I agree. Claiborne won't likely be available but Dennard, Minniefield, or Jenkins (though I don't like the troubled past) could and should be there to be drafted. Though in a class this deep an argument could be made to wait for round 2, though you won't likely get your #1 of the future.

Safety:

Not much out there in Free Agency. LaRon Landry could be a solid addition at Strong, but won't likely be cheap. Reggie Nelson needs to be resigned, he's a system fit that will only continue to get better.

In the draft there are some intriguing prospects, certainly a couple that project outside of the first couple rounds that could be starters in not too long. But if the Bengals want a starter now they can go after someone like Kenny Vaccaro, he's a free but I believe he could play either safety position, as Zimmer likes. Mark Barron has high grades but I believe we have his carbon copy in Taylor Mays under contract. Trumaine Johnson is an intriguing prospect from an FCS school that could be had later, he's a CB but I think he projects as a Safety in the NFL.

Running Back:

Matt Forte has it all. He's unhappy with the inattention the Bears' front office has given him and his injury may have brought his price tag down. But with so many needs and so many teams likely willing to pay da man, I doubt he lands in Cincy. Ray Rice is a FA but I'm sure he'll be locked up the moment the Ravens' season ends. Marshawn Lynch is intriguing but I'm not sure how much more you'll get out of him and he'll likely be seeking big money. Grant and Bush are both two very good stop-gaps that could come relatively cheap.

The draft has no shortage of talent at RB in the high rounds but I'm not sure if it's still there after round 2. Richardson will likely be gone before we pick but Miller and Ball (unless he replaces Trent after the combine) should be there for one of our first picks. There are also decent 2nd/3rd round prospects in Polk, James, and Martin.

Receiver:

I don't think we have the luxury of taking another receiver high in the draft, especially with very good options there in Free Agency. Any of the names listed in the table under free agency would make the receiver position better. Some more expensive than others but all talented and experienced. The Front Office will have to make a decision on the inconsistent duo of Simpson and Caldwell, but the smart money would be put towards one of the more talented Free Agents.

In the draft there are quality options, but I don't think any of them are like Green in that they can be Pro Bowl caliber right away, and we need talent now. Not to mention more pressing needs in the early rounds. Perhaps you take a flyer on a late round prospect but I'm confident in a receiving corps consisting of Optimus Prime, Jordan Shipley Jermaine Gresham, Baby Hawk, and one of the Free Agents.

Linebacker:

This I consider a luxury pick. But it may be wise to invest in this position now. Rey is having a rough first year in the middle and the outside backers aren't locked up long term. Manny Lawson will be a free agent, as will Howard the year after. Muckleroy will be fighting an uphill battle after tearing his Achilles, Brandon Johnson isn't a sure thing to stick around, and Skuta/Rey are pure backup/ST players.

The Free Agent crop isn't very strong. Players are either too expensive, not exactly starters, or a very rough scheme fit. Curtis Lofton will likely stay in ATL. Tulloch isn't a lock to stay in DET but it's likely. D'Qwell Jackson could likely be had but I think Zimmer will give Rey at least another year at MIKE. Dan Conner could be a very nice depth signing however.

Though there are some very intriguing LB picks in the draft they will all be gone in the early round and I believe those picks are better spent elsewhere. Perhaps a pick in the later rounds. I'll take this space to say, though, that I despise Burfict and didn't even add him to the table. He was partially responsible for his coach's termination, his terrible attitude infected the rest of the locker room, and he's now been demoted to the second team in bowl practices.

So that's all. Thoughts? I know that this team still has a shot at the Playoffs and maybe even a Super Bowl. But if we're honest, this team isn't a playoff team yet. And that's fine. We were all going to be happy with a 6 win season at the beginning of the year and we will likely go 9-7. Time to get excited for Free Agency and the draft and fight each other about what direction we want the team to take.

Edit: Cleaned up spelling, grammar, and fixed the lack of margins in the table. HTML between the Visual View and the HTML view is a headache.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Cincy Jungle's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Cincy Jungle's writers or editors.

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