FanPost

If MB is serious about winning (part 2)

I have been looking at the available free agents and trying to match need and opportunity for the Bengals. The Bengals have a once in a generation opportunity to raise the team to a new level and become a consistent contender. Mike Brown, in his waning years, could remake his legacy of amateur futility and refill PBS. The point here is to fill gaping holes with LONG-TERM solutions that are guaranteed to add impact for years. That means on offense the Bengals need to: (1) Put in place the last piece of a top class offensive line to protect Dalton and give him time to get the ball to the receivers and to create holes for the next 2-4 primary running backs that will run for this QB (2)Complement AJ and join the rest of the competitive NFL with 2-3 top tier threats in the passing game (3) Get a young running back to mature with this QB and receivers (4) Add power and rushing ability to the defensive line linebackers (5) Begin the process of repairing the critical damage caused by the JonJoe departure and Hall injury (6) Solidify the safety position.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

The first position of critical need to look at is right guard. Without the right protection up front any investment in QB, receiver or running back is wasted. Some mock drafts have the Bengals choosing a new guard in the first round. This would be a mistake. Why put a first round rookie next to a slowly maturing Andre Smith when a larger, proven player entering the prime of his career is available? Sure you will have to pay, but the Bengals are one of the few teams that can! The reason I chose Nicks #1 is that his age (26), size (6'5"/345) and skill (elite run blocker and pass protection) make him a no brainer long term investment. You will get every dollar back on each and every offensive down. And imagine, on short yardage, run right behind Nicks and Smith. In year five of an eight or nine year deal he’ll be a steal. World Class!!

TEAM

PLAYER

POSITION

My Ranking

STATS(age/size/weight)

Saints

Carl Nicks

OL

1

26/6.5-343

Packers

Scott Wells

OL

4

31/6.2-300

Eagles

Evan Mathis

OL (RG)

3

30/6.5-302

Ravens

Ben Grubbs

OL

2

27/6.3-310

The next position is receiver. This is probably the position that offers the most choices for serious upgrade. The clear best choice is Mike Wallace of the Steelers. Not only are the Steelers cash-strapped, meaning he’s likely available, but this choice would affect 2 possibly 3 games (playoff matchup) every year. It makes the Steelers, who now must deal with an aging Rothlisberger and a new OC, much weaker while it makes the Bengals considerably stronger. You know what he can do within the division and matching his speed and youth with AJ's talent and Shipley’s toughness would create a trio that Dalton could grow with for years. The choices are between:

TEAM

PLAYER

POSITION

My Ranking

STATS

Chiefs

Dwayne Bowe

WR

4

27/6.2 – 221 : avg 14.3 TD5

Chargers

Vincent Jackson

WR

5

29/6.5-230 : avg 18.4 TD9

Rams

Brandon Lloyd

WR

9

30/6.0-188 : avg 13.8 TD5

Cowboys

Laurent Robinson

WR

3

26/6.2-197 : avg 15.8 TD11

Giants

Mario Manningham

WR

8

25/6.0-185 :avg 13.4 TD4

Eagles

DeSean Jackson

WR

7

25/5.10-175 :avg 16.5 TD4

Saints

Marques Colston

WR

2

28/6.4-225 : avg 14.2 TD8

Colts

Pierre Garcon

WR

6

25/6.0-210 : avg 13.5 TD6

Steelers

Mike Wallace

WR

1

25/6.0-199 : avg 16.5 TD8

Now on to running backs. CB, with his 2011 3.9 YPC is not a bad choice to hang on to if he can be had cheap and frees up cash for other positions of greater need. Especially if he runs behind Nicks and Smith on the right side. I wouldn’t break the bank for a new running back this year but if Arian Foster is somehow magically available I would definitely go for it. As with the "Wallace rule" he makes the Bengals better and a potential playoff opponent weaker. A close second and third choice is Lynch and Bush. Lynch is higher on my list because of his age, while Bush’s power and receptions are intriguing even if his 3.8 YPC are lower than CB’s. I include McClain on the list because of the possibility running CB behind McClain-Nicks-Smith offers in the AFC North.

TEAM

PLAYER

POSITION

My Ranking

STATS

Chiefs

Le’Ron McClain

FB

4

27/6.0-260 : avg 3.4 TD1

Raiders

Michael Bush

RB

3

27/6.1-245 : avg 3.8 TD7 REC37 TD1

Seahawks

Marshawn Lynch

RB

2

25/5.11-215 : avg 4.2 TD12 REC28 TD1

Texans

Arian Foster

RB

1

25/6.1-229 : avg 4.4 TD10 REC53 TD2

Bears

Forte

RB

Franchise?/injured

Ravens

Rice

RB

Franchise

On the defensive side, we have two positions worth attempting to upgrade/deepen ASAP. The first position is cornerback. I have ceaselessly whined about the loss of JonJoe to the Texans. I personally think that this loss may have cost us at least three critical games (Baltimore, Steelers and Houston regular season) and possibly contributed to Hall’s injury (overworked against #1 receivers). That said, the Bengals have to move on. They need to create interceptions and slow down opposing passing attacks in the closing minutes of close games. If they draft the projected CB in the first round they will need at least one more experienced player to man this position. My choice would be to make a run at Marshall with Carr a very close second, especially considering his age and the fact that the Bengals play the Chiefs this year. I could be convinced here to change my mind. Or go after both.

TEAM

PLAYER

POSITION

My Ranking

STATS

Chiefs

Brandon Carr

CB

1b

25/6.0-207 : S0 INT4 T45

Titans

Courtland Finnegan

CB

3

28/5.10-188 : S1 INT1 T75

Cardinals

Richard Marshall

CB

1a

27/5.11-198 : S2 INT3 T78

Falcons

Brent Grimes

CB

4

28/5.10-183 : S0 INT1 T35

As to the linebackers, I think there is only one choice – Mario Williams – and then the rest. Of course he will cost money but he, like Nicks on the offensive line, is an investment that will pay off for years to come. His unique strength size and speed makes him a clear upgrade and an instant improvement to our ability to pressure the opponents QB. In addition, he will be unbelievably motivated in any future matchups with Houston, a team that the Bengals, if successful, are likely to meet in key games for years to come.

TEAM

PLAYER

POSITION

My Ranking

STATS

Browns

D’Qwell Jackson

LB

5

28/6.0-240 : S3.5 INT1 T158

Texans

Mario Williams

LB/DE

1

27/6.6-290 : S6(8 )INT0 T11(55)

Vikings

Erin Henderson

LB

6

25/6.3-244 : S1.5 INT0 T70

Lions

Stephan Tulluch

LB

4

27/5.11-240 : S3 INT2 T111

Seahawks

Davids Hawthorne

LB

2

26/6.0-246 : S2 INT3 T115

Falcons

Curtis Lofton

LB

3

25/6.0-241 : S1 INT2 T147

These are the players I would put the highest priority on for an immediate upgrade. There are three other positions I would also pursue as much for the opportunity as for the need. On offense, you have Jermichael Finley as a young, stud upgrade as another target for Dalton. On defense, the addition of Soliai to an already solid run stopping front makes the mouth water while the availability of Avril has to be recognized.

TEAM

PLAYER

POSITION

My Ranking

STATS

Redskins

Fred Davis

TE

2

26/6.4-258 : REC59 avg 13.4 TD3

Vikings

Visanthe Shiancoe

TE

4

31/6.4-250 : REC36 TD3

Houston

Joel Dreessen

TE

3

29/6.4-245 : REC28 avg12.6 TD6

Packers

Jermichael Finley

TE

1

24/6.5-247 : REC55 avg 13.9 TD8

TEAM

PLAYER

POSITION

My Ranking

STATS

Dolphins

Paul Soliai

DT

1

28/6.4-355 : S0 INT0 T27

Jets

Siona Pouha

DT (NT)

3

33/6.3-325 : S1 INT0 T58

Denver

Broderick Bunkley

DT

2

28/6.2-306 :S0 INT0 T43

TEAM

PLAYER

POSITION

CHOICE

STATS

Colts

Robert Mathis

DE

3

30/6.2-245 : S9.5 INT0 T43

Patriots

Mark Anderson

DE

2

28/6.4-255 : S10 INT0 T29

Lions

Cliff Avril

DE

1

25/6.3-260 : S11 INT1 T36


No one in their right mind thinks the Bengals can add many of these players but these are the ones I would target. Landing two or more of the key players or a combination of two key (Nicks/Wallace) and one of the other defensive players and a solid draft could put the Bengals on the map for years to come. The Bengals have built through the draft. But they are reaching the point where they have to start WINNING consistently. They need now to solidify the core so that the draft builds on success. It can’t be an unending project that never reaches maturity. As exciting as this past year was, the Bengals won a lot of games due to last minute heroics, backed into the playoffs, were outclassed by Houston and are facing a tougher schedule against teams all projected to be better than last year. The Bengals get no credibility for good drafts or player potential, if teams were measured by this yardstick Tampa Bay and Philly would have been in the playoffs. A weak free agent offseason will be a huge setback for the Bengals, even if they have a good draft. A weak free agent offseason and I will guarantee a return to below .500, ridicule, players in their hearts looking for the exit, endless soul-searching, coaching turnover, empty seats, and a return to business as usual in the Bengaldom.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Cincy Jungle's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Cincy Jungle's writers or editors.

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