Writer for the NFL Network, Pat Kirwan, spent some time breaking down the AFC North team needs as the league creeps ever so slowly towards the draft on April 28th. I would love to report to you that his analysis of the draft painted a beautiful picture of the offseason landscape that the Bengals find themselves in, intricately weaving together the dynamics of a dissappionting 2010 season with the hope of a new dawn as the Bengals enter a rebuilding process. Instead, what we get is a picture that is more akin to Dogs Playing Poker -- a work that belongs in the basement-converted-mancave of a suburban household. Though Kirwan hits on some of the obvious needs that the Bengals have going into the 2011 season -- like...I don't know...QB -- he manages to completely neglect other positions of need while inserting some that have no business being there in the first place. Let's take a look, shall we?
Here's Kirwan's list of the Bengals offseason team needs: QB, S, MLB, DE, RB & WR. *Sigh*
It looks like I'm going to have to clean up after this mess. On behalf of all Bengals fans who could have recited to Mr. Kirwan the Bengals actual offseason needs by heart, let me break this down.
QB: Yep. Carson Palmer is headed for greener pastures, which makes this hands down the biggest offseason need for the Bengals.
S: Our analyst is two-for-two so far, but I have to mark him down for not being specific. Right now the Bengals only have two safeties signed going into the 2011 season: Reggie Nelson and Chris Crocker. Both of whom played the free safety position for us last year, so the real need going into this offseason is strong safety (though I suspect that Crocker could move to SS without missing a beat).
MLB: So close, yet so far. Yes, Dhani Jones will be a free agent (when there is a free agency), but the Bengals have already have not one, but two in-house candidates for the job in Rey Maualuga and Roddrick Muckelroy. Depth might be an issue that needs to be addressed at the outside linebacker position in the case that Brandon Johnson leaves, but MLB is not particularly glaring.
DE: Defensive end is a need, but with the emergence of Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson at the end of last year, it's less of a need than most would suspect. Depth will definitely be an issue however if the Bengals choose to cut either Antwan Odom or Robert Geathers (because of their relatively large cost and relatively low production).
RB: It looks like the Bengals are going to attempt to resign Cedric Benson, and let's be honest, nobody else is going to want to sign a RB who averaged 3.5 yards per carry last season with seven fumbles. I don't think anybody is worried about losing the guy.
WR: This is the most debatable position need on the list. Yes, Terrell Owens is gone. Yes, Chad is...well...playing soccer. However, the team might (and I stress the might) already have a number one wide out in Jerome Simpson, and has a decent cast of characters starting with Jermaine Gresham, Jordan Shipley, and Andre Caldwell. Depth is an issue, but they should have the luxury of drafting for value in the later rounds.
And for the positions that he left off? We could start with left guard, which the team could currently substitute a pop machine without any significant drop off in pass protection. Cornerback is another area of need (yes, I realize it's debatable), with Jonathan Joseph being a free agent this season, not to mention Leon Hall and Adam Jones being free agents next season. And the position that everybody forgets about, and simultaneously doesn't care about - the kicker position - is another glaring hole the Bengals are facing next year.
Mr. Kirwan, I realize that not everybody follows the Bengals as fanatically as we do here at the Jungle, but next time, all you have to do is ask. We'll be glad to help!