With the NFL Draft quickly approaching, the Bengals have a plethora of positions that need to be addressed. Some of the most evident ones would be quarterback or wide receiver, but the Bengals should turn their heads in a different direction and go with a defensive player. Unless Blaine Gabbert, the consensus No. 1 quarterback, is still on the board when the Bengals go on the clock, they should turn their attention to defensive back Patrick Peterson of LSU, that is if he isn't already gone like he's projected to be.
Presuming that Blaine Gabbert is off the board when the Bengals are selecting, Peterson would be a logical choice for Cincinnati. With cornerback Jonathon Joseph set to hit free agency, there is a desperate need in the secondary, especially since, besides Joseph hitting the free agency waters, Chinedum Ndukwe and Roy Williams are slated to become free agents as well. Cornerback might not seem like a glaring hole, because Leon Hall and Adam Jones are still under contract, but after next season it will be, when the contracts of Hall, Adam Jones, and Reggie Nelson expire. Assuming the Bengals are unable to retain either Joseph or Hall there will be a dire need at cornerback.
Peterson could very well be a solution for the Bengals secondary. He demonstrated his talents at the combine with eye-popping results that included a 40-yard dash time of 4.34, a 10’6" broad jump, a 38-inch vertical leap, and 15 reps on the 225 pound bench press, all of which are pretty impressive and helped him solidify his stock in the draft.
Even though the Bengals have a need at quarterback, the quarterback class of the upcoming draft is underwhelming with Blaine Gabbert arguably being the top quarterback. If the Bengals decide to hold off on a quarterback until the later rounds, drafting Peterson (if he's available), there’s the possibility that Florida’s Christian Ponder or Arkansas’ Ryan Mallet could be available.
In 2010 the Bengals defense ranked No. 14 in passing yards allowed per game and No. 19 in opponent rushing yards per game. Neither of those are horrid rankings, but at the same time they aren’t the type of stellar rankings that playoff hopeful teams strive for.
Another aspect that should attract the Bengals to Peterson is his willingness to play safety, especially since safety is an extremely weak point of their defense. Mike Mayok went as far to say that he could be a future Pro Bowl safety:
Peterson is listed at 6-foot-1 and 222 pounds, and Mayock isn’t the first media member to suggest a position switch for the over-sized corner. Mayock even compared Peterson to Antrel Rolle, an early-career cornerback for the Cardinals who busted at the more valuable position before resurrecting his career at safety.
Later this month Peterson is scheduled to visit with the Bengals. Hopefully, this is an indication that the Bengals are preparing seriously consider Peterson, even though it also means they're preparing to go toe-to-toe against the AFC North munus Joseph. Peterson is also lined up to visit with the Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals and the Buffalo Bills, as well as having private workouts for the Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans before the draft in April.
If Peterson is available at No. 4 and the Bengals decide to avoid the quarterback route and select him, then the defense that seemed extremely average to poor at times last season would be injected with an immediate boost. Peterson’s athletic abilities and tools are there, and if all of the cards are in place then next season he could be roaming the secondary for the Bengals.