The Bengals have a foundation of young defensive tackles to build a core around. Pat Sims started coming into his own in 2010 with 44 tackles, nearly 10 quarterback pressures and 2.5 quarterback sacks. Pro Football Focus graded Geno Atkins as the team's best defensive player and best pass rusher last season, posting 19 quarterback pressures and three quarterback sacks.
But that's not enough.
Tank Johnson, who will be turning 30 in December, missed nine games in 2010 with a knee injury. And the seven games he started, Johnson only recorded 12 tackles. Pro Football Focus rated Johnson as the worst defensive player in 2009, especially against the run. Domata Peko is in the same boat, having recorded an overall grade of -5.5 (how they grade) in 2009 with a score of -7.6 against the run. With Johnson out for most of the year, Pro Football Focus graded Peko as the worst run defender on the team with a score of -5.9. Not exactly what you want out of your starting defensive tackles against the run.
So it would hardly be surprising if the Bengals would be interested in one of the top defensive tackles in this year's NFL Draft. Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis attended Auburn's Pro Day last week, which featured quarterback Cam Newton and defensive tackle Nick Fairley -- one of the top prospects at his position.
They also might be interested in Alabama defensive tackle Marcus Dareus. At least that's what the defensive tackle says. When asked about the "feedback" he's received from other teams, Dareus said.
We’ve got quite a few teams, top four teams, pretty interested in me. They like what I do on the field — of course, everybody likes what I do on the field — but they like the way I handle myself, my mannerisms, the way I carry myself as a person, on and off the field. I tell them I want to be a pro’s pro, and they really look up to that and they really see a difference in the way I play and the way I react.
The Bengals select fourth overall in the 2011 NFL Draft.
John Thornton (where I found the link) writes that he believes Fairley is the better option of the two defensive tackles. And Thornton points out a connection that dates back to last year:
Maybe the Bengals draft Dareus if he is there at #4….Bengals DL coach Jay Hayes conducted the DL drills during Alabama’s pro day last Wednesday. His brother Jon Hayes ran Oklahoma’s TE drills last year and then the Bengals went on to select Okla TE Jermaine Gresham with their first round pick.