In a perfect world, the Bengals defense would take the field in 2011 with both Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph as the starting cornerbacks. Unfortunately, this isn't a perfect world. If it was, I would be able to use my brain waves to write articles on CincyJungle from the beach on Hilton Head Island where I spent all last week, instead of typing on my desktop in my closet of a room in rainy Cincinnati.
So, since this is obviously not a perfect world, I won't be surprised at all when Joseph signs with another team when the lockout is lifted.
But, even if that happens, the 2011 Bengals secondary isn't lost. After all, we still have Leon Hall and Adam Jones to fill the void and they're both high first-round picks. They're both free agents in 2012 but they could play well in 2011, right? Sure, why not?
What if they can't both play in 2011, though? Adam Jones suffered a pretty serious neck injury in 2010 and he was just recently taken out of his neck brace so he could start light workouts. What happens if he's not ready to go once the season starts? Who could take his place and start opposite of Leon Hall?
The Bengals have a large group of cornerbacks on the roster right now, including:
Leon Hall, Adam Jones, Morgan Trent, Brandon Ghee, Fred Bennett, Rico Murray, David Pender, Jonathan Wade and recently drafted rookie Korey Lindsey. Of those 10, only Trent, Ghee and Pender are signed beyond the 2011 season.
So, assuming that Leon Hall is a starter, what will happen if the Bengals can't re-sign Joseph and Adam Jones isn't 100 percent when the season starts. Let's take a look at the other cornerbacks on the roster.
Morgan Trent: No. 25 6-1 193 lbs 25 years old
Trent played in every game in his rookie year with the Bengals in 2009 as the team's nickel back. He racked up 28 tackles, had one sack and four passes defensed.
He lost his starting job to Adam Jones before the 2010 season, but once Jones went on IR, Trent stepped back in until he was also injured in practice in November, ending his season. In eight games in 2010, Trent had 26 tackles, three passes defensed, one interception and one fumble recovery.
His best game came in 2010 against the Miami Dolphins (Bengals lost 22-14), in which he made 11 tackles, knocked down one pass and intercepted a pass.
Brandon Ghee: No. 21 6-0 190 lbs 24 years old
Ghee played in six games in his rookie season in 2010, making nine tackles, most of which were on special teams. He was inactive for a few games last year due to a groin injury suffered in the loss against Buffalo. When he was drafted in the third round of the 2010 NFL draft, many wondered whether or not he could play safety.
Fred Bennett: No. 23 6-1 200 lbs 27 years old
Bennett played three seasons in on the Houston Texans, who drafted him in the fourth round of the 2007 draft. He then played one season on the San Diego Chargers before he was signed by the Bengals in Nov. after he was waived from the Chargers.
In his four seasons, Bennett has made 125 tackles, 21 passes defensed, five interceptions, four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He's started in 17 games in his career which is more than any of the other cornerbacks ont he Bengals roster except for Jones and Hall.
His best season was his rookie season in which he led the Texans in interceptions and passes defensed.
Rico Murray: No. 44 5-11 200 lbs 23 years old
Murray, a Cincinnati native, was an undrafted free agent picked up by the Bengals in 2009. He's spent time on the active roster and as a practice squad player. In his two seasons with the Bengals, he's played in eight games, made 18 tackles and had two passes defensed.
His best game came in 2010 when the Bengals faced off against the Indianapolis Colts (the Bengals lost 23-17) when Murray had 10 tackles and knocked down two passes.
David Pender: No. 39 6-0 180 lbs 23 years old
Pender has been bounced around the NFL a lot for having only played in the 2010 season. He was picked up by the Philadelphia Eagles as a college free agent before the 2010 season but was waived after the preseason. He then signed on the Baltimore practice squad for a short period of time before being waved again. He was then signed by the Indianapolis Colts. He played three games for the Colts, recording two tackles.
He was claimed off waivers by Cincinnati on Dec. 28 during the 2010 season but never made it on the field as a Bengal.
Jonathan Wade: No. 26 5-11 200 lbs 27 years old
Wade was selected in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams. He played three seasons with the Rams, starting in six games and playing in 47. In that time, he made 67 tackles, made two interceptions and broke up seven passes. He was then released before the 2010 season and signed with the Detroit Lions. He played in eight games for the Lions, starting in four, made 30 tackles, broke up three passes and forced one fumble. The Lions released him on Nov. 10.
On Nov. 22, Wade signed with the Bengals. He played in four games, starting three, making 14 tackles and breaking up two passes.
Wade has the second most experience as a starting cornerback in the NFL behind Fred Bennett (excluding Jones and Hall).
Korey Lindsey: No. 38 5-10 194 lbs 22 years old
Lindsey was a seventh-round pick for the Bengals in the 2011 draft. He obviously has no NFL experience but he has been working out with the team during the lockout.
So, if the Bengals find themselves in a situation in which they didn't re-sign Johnathan Joseph and and Adam Jones isn't healthy enough to start at the beginning of the season, which cornerback currently on the roster should start opposite of Leon Hall?