NFL Draft 2011: Youth Brings New Excitement To The Cincinnati Bengals

Among Bengals fans that gravitated to our many open threads over the weekend, there appeared to be a strong scent of change. Drafting A.J. Green gladly brings Chad Ochocinco's career in Cincinnati to a speculative end. The Bengals decided to take Carson Palmer's threat serious enough to draft TCU quarterback Andy Dalton, allowing the team to focus on developing a quarterback from scratch again, much like the anticipation felt when Carson Palmer donned the baseball cap and the #1 Bengals jersey at Radio City.

From a team that went from Palmer, Ochocinco and Terrell Owens, a new age of Bengals players refreshingly emerge this weekend, supplanting narcissistic mouths, weighted depression and slumped shoulders heading to the sidelines with enthusiastic young talent that includes players drafted in previous drafts. Such as A.J. Green, Andy Dalton, Dontay Moch, Carlos Dunlap, Geno Atkins, Pat Sims, Michael Johnson, Jerome Simpson, Andre Caldwell, Rey Maualuga, Keith Rivers, Roddrick Muckelroy, Jermaine Gresham and Jordan Shipley; all players that will define the next generation of Bengals players.

You smell it, don't you? Wiping off the reside of a pessimistic four-win season that was coordinated from a group of guys on offense that will not be on the roster in 2011. A youthful transition that beings excitement, even though so much is unknown. How will the rookies react? Can players like Caldwell and Simpson transition from disappointments from last offseason to veteran leaders now, even though they're still kids themselves; and in Simpson's case, largely still unproven.

Andy Dalton has never thrown an NFL pass. The Bengals leading receiver, speculating that the Bengals will release Chad Ochocinco, is Andre Caldwell, who only has 87 career receptions. The uncertainty of left guard can finally come to an end with a rookie in Clint Boling. Package that all up with a new offensive coordinator implementing a new offensive philosophy and playbook. And yet, there's more excitement now than there was with Carson Palmer and the stale offensive playbook of Bob Bratkowski.

Things are different at Paul Brown Stadium, where only months ago head coach Marvin Lewis negotiated a contract that enabled him to have more power. And since then, he's replaced the offensive coordinator, persuaded the team enough to make exploratory phone calls about a new indoor practice facility and, if reports are to be believed, successfully choose the quarterback they favored in Dalton while Mike Brown held the dissenting voice favoring Ryan Mallett.

The Bengals addressed the positions they needed to address. Along with Green, the Bengals drafted a tough hard-working receiver that can play special teams and backup Jordan Shipley at slot receiver. They picked up their quarterback, an obvious need, while drafting a guard in Boling that is already projected as a competing player to start at left guard. And they added depth at running back with Jay Finley.

The Bengals drafted two players in the second in Robert Sands (safety) and Korey Lindsey (cornerback) while instantly improving the team's overall third down pass rush in Dontay Moch, who if you listen to him, ran a 2.15 40-yard dash.

When it comes down to it, the Bengals selected the players that they wanted, addressing positions that they needed to address. But most importantly, the Bengals did the right thing by initiating the process of removing the old and bringing in the new.

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