Predictions Come With The Cost Of Credibility: The Cincinnati Bengals Will Select Wide Receiver A.J. Green

AUBURN AL - NOVEMBER 13: A.J. Green #8 of the Georgia Bulldogs pulls in this touchdown reception against Demond Washington #14 of the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on November 13 2010 in Auburn Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Predictions are always hard when it comes to the NFL Draft. During last year's SB Nation Writers Mock Draft, yours truly selected wide receiver Dez Bryant in the first round and offensive guard Jon Asamoah in the second round. It seemed reasonable. The team needed a receiver and it seems like they've needed a guard during every NFL Draft since Eric Steinbach left. The Bengals, shockingly of course, kept to their own counsel with tight end Jermaine Gresham and defensive end Carlos Dunlap. I guess they did alright on their own. We were much closer in 2009 selecting offensive tackle Andre Smith and outside linebacker Conner Barwin. Smith was the pick and the Bengals selected another linebacker in Rey Maualuga.

And not-so-shocking through all of this, of the mock drafts during the past two years, the positions we projected remain spots of need during this year's NFL Draft. Wide receiver. Need. Offensive guard. Need. Outside linebacker. Need. Offensive tackle. Yes, another need. Instead the positions, especially on the offensive line, have been given to undrafted free agents and NFL journeymen. Don't you think it's time to address the position with a little more focus? While the need for a wide receiver isn't an urgent need, it is a need. Chad Ochocinco isn't expected to be on the opening day roster while Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell -- both still unproven even though they finished last year on fire -- are heading into the final year of their respective rookie contracts. So is Bobbie Williams at right guard. The team could use tackles. And who knows what will happen with a departing Dhani Jones and Brandon Johnson. Cincinnati needs players there also.

This doesn't even bring needs at quarterback, safety, running back, safety, general manager, cornerback, safety, the defensive line and safety into the conversation.

Based off sketchy information that's been published in recent months, we're fairly confident that the Bengals will draft wide receiver A.J. Green. Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert, quarterbacks that could replace Carson Palmer, might not be viewed with so much desperation that the position couldn't be addressed in the second round -- which we project.

Additionally, we don't feel confident that the Bengals will draft a defensive lineman in the first round because $13.6 million will be paid to four defensive linemen in 2011 alone -- which could be a detriment of selecting a first round defensive lineman in the mind of Bengals owner Mike Brown.

Player Position Base Pay Final Year
Antwan Odom Defensive End $4.5 Million 2012
Robert Geathers Defensive End $3.95 Million 2012
Domata Peko Defensive Tackle $2.9 Million 2014
Tank Johnson Defensive Tackle $2.25 Million 2013

Sure. Someone could be released, but that won't happen until well after the NFL Draft.

There's a slight chance the team could think about Patrick Peterson, provided he's still available. But we don't see it, primarily because we're expecting the team to address the position once there's resolution one way or another with Johnathan Joseph, which will occur after a collective bargaining agreement is resolved, long after the NFL Draft. But I wouldn't be surprised to see a cornerback drafted later in the draft to solidly the position away from undrafted free agents and practice squad players.

Georgia's A.J. Green would make the most sense, mostly because there's plenty of fluidity at his respective position on the team and there's no debating his value as the fourth overall selection, like there would be the quarterbacks.

Your turn. Who do you predict the Bengals will select in the first round? Remember. This isn't about who you would select, rather a full prediction on whom the Bengals will draft.

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