While discussing the Trent Richardson scenarios for the 2012 NFL Draft, we found ourselves wondering about position needs as a whole. Granted a lot will happen from now until the draft, such as free agency (which players leave, which players from other teams sign on), to the development and growth of younger players on the team that haven't made their impressions yet. Regardless it's a series of discussions this site -- and every other team-focused website -- will dig into for the next four months.
What would you identify as the biggest positional need?
Jason: I would think that the biggest need is either a cornerback or a safety. The Bengals defense is one or two players from being where it needs to be and a safety or a cornerback that can play opposite Leon Hall can help free up the front seven to do a lot more. The secondary is a liability right now and the Bengals need to fix that.
Josh: Not to mention there's no certainty that Leon Hall will be available to start the season -- wouldn't be unrealistic to see him go on PUP recovering from his Achilles injury.
Josh: But you know that Marvin will go with best player available. At least that's the theory we've always been led to believe, even though they miraculously address needs as if that were their plan all along.
Jason: That's true, but this draft is deep in cornerbacks and safeties and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Bengals pick up a safety or corner early.
Josh: I wouldn't be surprised to see the Bengals select upwards to three players in the secondary this year.
Jason: It's very possible. I hope to see them select corners, safeties and offensive linemen early.
Josh: Yep. We've got our offensive weapons in the last two years with Dalton, Green, Gresham and Shipley. It's time to worry about more than just the sexy ball-carriers for once.
Jason: However, I do think that the Bengals need to find a wide receiver in the first three rounds.
Josh: You only have so many people you can select in the first three rounds. And it's not always certain that those players will pan out -- we have two examples of that on the roster today.
Josh: I would argue for middle linebacker. I know that Rey Maualuga has only played one season at middle linebacker, but he left a lot to be desired this season. Perhaps the team is better off with someone else at middle linebacker while Rey returns to the strong-side linebacker spot.
Jason: I was thinking about that the other day, but I think they should give him another year. If Maualuga doesn't improve next season then they should look at upgrading the position. I think there are too many holes in the roster to worry about right now before they start to worry about middle linebacker. With some more coaching I think Rey can still be very good.
Josh: Linebacker is a need. Manny Lawson will be a free agent and who knows about Keith Rivers. Do you want to go into training camp depending on Dan Skuta or Vincent Rey? Though one could argue for Dontay Moch and Roddrick Muckelroy, but they are incredibly unknowns at this point.
Jason: Skuta has been decent when he had to step up and he's contributed on special teams. I just think that linebacker is lower on the list compared to other needs right now. I do think they should re-sign Lawson, though.
Josh: But if you're selecting in the second round, and a far more talented middle linebacker is available, compared to anyone in the secondary, offensive line or running back, don't you consider it?
Jason: I would consider it and if the best player available was a linebacker in the second round and the corners, safeties, receivers or running backs left were projected lower I might do it. I just don't see the draft playing out that way.
Josh: Don't beat yourself up about it. Even Mel Kiper Jr. is wrong about the draft in early January.
If you got to pick the order of players selected in the draft through the first three rounds, what would you do? (example: RB, WR, G, S, CB)
Josh: Well as you said, who knows how the draft will pan out. But my very list of needs, not factoring in prospective rehabilitation of major injuries, expiring contracts on the team and the Bengals signing free agents from other teams, I'd that the most pressing needs in order of priority would be guard(s), safety, cornerback, running back, wide receiver.
Jason: I would say the same. I think that cornerback and safety could be swapped depending on who is available in the draft, but other than that it's the same.