The serious lack of safeties is probably causing Marvin Lewis to lose sleep at night. If I'm curled up in a fetal position with a waking sweat, I can only imagine how Lewis is feeling right now. Chris Crocker, signed through 2012 and Reggie Nelson, entering the final year under contract, are expected to be the team's starting safeties in 2011. Roy Williams and Chinedum Ndukwe will be free agents, as will the team's free agent signing of Gibril Wilson last year.
Contracts aside, injuries ruled the position last year as much as anything. Ndukwe, Crocker and Gibril Wilson finished the season on Injured Reserve. Williams missed four games and 12 games the year before that. It forced the team to add undrafted free agents off the practice squad and Marvin White, a free agent the Bengals had already released earlier in his career.
To compound the problem, the draft isn't going to help the Bengals much.
According to Bengals.com, head coach Marvin Lewis is having a hard time finding them in the draft.
"Guys are playing different spots," he said last week. "You've got more guys trying to play corner, they're becoming big receivers. You would think with all the spread offenses in college there would be more, but the last few years there have been less. We felt last year like there was a pretty good drop-off after a certain point."
According to ESPN's Draft Tracker, the best safety prospect, UCLA's Rahim Moore, is listed as the 33rd-best overall prospect a second-round projection. Temple's Jaiquawn Jarrett is listed as the 75th-best overall prospect and a mid-third round selection.