The Cincinnati Bengals will be in the market for a cornerback early in the 2012 draft. With starters Leon Hall rehabbing an Achilles injury and Nate Clements getting another year older, it's inevitable that the team will be looking at the position. Throw into the mix that Adam Jones is a free agent and Brandon Ghee has yet to contribute much and the position group is pretty thin.
Fortunately for the Bengals, the 2012 draft class is pretty deep at the position. One of the names that has frequently been linked to Cincinnati is Nebraska's Alfonzo Dennard. Though not the most dynamic playmaker at the position, he brings solid cover skills and decent size--two attributes that still-defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer likes. The Bengals staff has had the opportunity to get an up-close look at Dennard as he's been participating in practices for the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.
Unfortunately, for both Dennard and the Bengals, he is capping off a rough week of practice by pulling out of the game due to a hip injury.
This injury continues to pave the way for the stocks of North Alabama's Janoris Jenkins and Georgia's Brandon Boykin to rise, who by most accounts have had great weeks in Mobile. Another name at the position that is floating around is that of Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, who is not participating.
The issue with Jenkins and Kirkpartrick are that of character/drug concerns. Jenkins was once viewed as an elite talent while at the University of Florida, but was kicked out of the program because of multiple problems. He then transferred to North Alabama and has turned heads this week. Kirkpatrick's run-in was much more recent, as he was caught with marijuana in his possession. Dennard doesn't have these issues, but the injury does bring up a red flag. He also wasn't as dominant of a player once his counterpart Prince Amukamara left for the 2011 NFL Draft.
It's very likely that most of these names will be available to the Bengals when they select at the No. 17 and No. 21 spots in the draft. It's just a matter of with whom they want to place their chips. They could roll the dice on a potentially dynamic player with a spotty off-field record (as they've done numerous times in the past), or choose to go with a solid character and player who may not be as dynamic. We'll see where they go, but Dennard's best shot at impressing the Bengals will now have to lie with the Combine and/or his Pro Day.