What if I were to tell you that Football Outsiders (via ESPN) published a story that headlined "ranking of the top National Football League organizations?" Only imaging here but I'm fairly certain a good chunk of our readers skimmed through to the next post with a handful already salivating at the prospects of Brown-bashing. Maybe it's the other way around. A reaction to an organization ranking typically drop-kicks the Bengals into the barrel that speeds down the Niagara Falls.
What if I told you Football Outsiders ranked them ninth?
You're totally going to click on the "Continue reading this post"
So the headline was a bit deceiving. The ranking is an organizational listing, yes. However eligibility has nothing to do with the front office. The ranking is based on a team's overall talent with players aged 25 or younger.
The Bengals -- yes, the Bengals -- have promising young talent on both offense and defense. After the 2011 draft, the conversation begins with A.J. Green and Andy Dalton, who we projected as the best quarterback prospect available. With Carson Palmer vowing to never play another down for Cincinnati, and Terrell Owens' knee making a similar declaration, the Bengals got considerably younger at two impact positions in about 24 hours. Add Jermaine Gresham and Jordan Shipley to their early picks, and the Bengals are likely to build on their 11th-ranked pass offense over the long term.
Cincinnati also hopes to improve its 25th-ranked run defense by starting three linebackers at 25 years old or younger: Keith Rivers, Rey Maualuga and Michael Johnson. The only things preventing the Bengals from a higher ranking are that (A) they waited until the third round to draft help for their 30th-ranked pass rush, and (B) they have no 25-or-younger running backs to replace Cedric Benson's production should he be suspended or leave in free agency.