TUSCALOOSA AL - OCTOBER 02: Dre Kirkpatrick #21 of the Alabama Crimson Tide intercepts a pass intended for Trey Burton #8 of the Florida Gators at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 2 2010 in Tuscaloosa Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Last month when Mel Kiper Jr. released his first mock draft of the NFL draft season, he projected Cincinnati selecting Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard and University of Miami running back Lamar Miller. Makes sense. Cedric Benson is leaving (for the love of God), so the team needs a running back -- despite my complete objection of using a first round selection for a running back. Yet the true caveat is that a running back is only as good as his offensive line and if they're not very good, then it won't matter who the team selects. That running back simply won't be effective.
Cornerback is an absolute given. Not only is there a chance that Leon Hall's rehabilitation could lead into the regular season after suffering a season-ending Achilles injury, there's absolutely no depth on this roster. And even if the Bengals successfully convinced cornerback Stanford Routt to bring his slight-above-average talents (though valuable due to the lack of overall demand) to Cincinnati, the Bengals are hardly finished rebuilding their secondary. In today's NFL you need three good cornerbacks to counter the multiple wide receiver formations.
All that being said if Mel Kiper Jr.'s February Mock Draft were any indication of what the team may do in late April, those needs will be addressed. With the 17th selection, Kiper has the Bengals selecting Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. He writes:
The Bengals held up pretty well against the pass last year, but should look for the heir to Johnathan Joseph, whom they lost to Houston before the 2011 season. Kirkpatrick fits the bill as a big, physical corner who doesn't give up much in coverage given his size (nearly 6-foot-3), which makes him particularly good inside the red zone. He's also not one to shy away from run support. The Bengals need a running back, too, but they can find value at that position much later. Glenn is also an option if the Jets don't make that pick.
And with the 21st selection, Kiper has Cincinnati selecting Stanford guard David DeCastro.
I have guard as one of the top needs for the Bengals, and they won't do any better than DeCastro at this spot. A player who plays with exceptional awareness, DeCastro is the kind of guard who helps you crack off bigger gains in the run and screen game because he gets a great initial punch, but will also get to the second level and throw great blocks out in space. Again, I don't think Cincy gets enough value here at running back, but DeCastro helps the run game, too.
I think we can accept those.