For the most part, the first few rounds of the draft are considered most important. That's where NFL teams find players that start or make some other immediate impact on offense, defense or sometimes on special teams. However, talented players can be found in rounds four through seven as well.
There are quite a few players in the NFL that were picked up in the last three rounds that went on to prove 31 teams wrong. The most famous of course is Tom Brady, but there are others on every team. For the Bengals, running back Bernard Scott was a sixth-round pick and there are a handful of other players that were late-round picks or came into the league as undrafted free agents.
National Football Post's Wes Bunting highlighted a few players that are underrated as we head into draft season. Some of those players play positions that we know the Bengals will be targeting to fill holes in their roster. Who knows, maybe one of them could end up in stripes in 2012.
There's no question that the Bengals are looking to find a new running back to replace Cedric Benson. Some mock drafts have them targeting Trent Richardson in the first round or drafting a guy like Doug Martin in the second. Bunting lists two underrated running backs who could make an impact on the team that drafts them and could be available in later rounds.
One of those backs is Utah State running back Robert Turbin (5-foot-10, 216 pounds).
Physically, he reminds me some of New York Jets RB Shonn Greene. But as a runner, he looks more natural as a zone guy who he can use his cut back ability to pick his way through traffic, square his shoulders and then attack daylight. Has the skill set to mature into a starter at the next level, but because of his lack of a great burst, he doesn't strike me as a guy who is ever going to have a real gaudy yards per carry average. Nevertheless, he should be able to keep you ahead of the chains and create the tough yards through contact.
I highly doubt the Bengals would not draft a running back in the first two rounds unless they picked up a guy like Michael Bush or re-signed Benson in free agency, so if they pick up a guy like Turbin in a later round, it would probably be to add depth.
Another position the Bengals will probably address in the draft or in free agency is wide receiver. Jerome Simpson was inconsistent as the team's No. 2 receiver and the team needs an upgrade to play on the opposite side of A.J. Green in order to give Green some more space and help open up the rest of the field for guys like Jermaine Gresham and Jordan Shipley. They aren't likely to select a wide receiver high in the draft as they can find guys in free agency and there are bigger needs.
Bunting lists two wide receivers that could be available in the late rounds of the draft. The first is Fresno State's Devon Wylie (5-foot-9, 185 pounds).
Is limited a bit by his size, but is the kind of cat-quick slot guy with great ball skills who can make a living in the NFL. The major positive with him though is that he also has very good speed and can easily make plays down the field.
The other is Arkansas wide receiver Jarius Wright (5-foot-10, 180 pounds).
A coordinated athlete who is slippery as a route runner, tough over the middle and knows how to get open vs. man and zone. Will get re-routed vs. press at times and looks more like an inside player at the next level, but has the skill set to make a roster and carve out a big niche early.
Another position the Bengals are definitely looking to upgrade is guard. Bobbie Williams, Nate Livings and Mike McGlynn are all free agents and the team is more than likely only going to re-sign Williams if they re-sign any of them. They will be drafting a guard early, whether that turns out to be David DeCastro if he falls to them at No. 17, or a guy like Cordy Glenn.
They may select two guards, though, one in the first round and one in a later round to add depth. Bunting lists two guards, the first guard is a home-grown guy: Miami of Ohio's Brandon Brooks (6-foot-5, 343 pounds).
Is a big, strong kid who has some lateral quickness for his size, but needs some technique work. Nevertheless, he has some upside and can win consistently in both the run and pass game, and looks like an NFL starter in an angle scheme to me.
And the second is Illinois guard Jeff Allen (6-foot-5, 315 pounds).
He's not an overpowering run blocker, but can bend, gain leverage and seal inside. He's smooth and coordinated in pass protection, can keep his base down and warrants a higher grade because of it. Needs to play inside at the next level, but looks like a guy who can start in the league.
Stay tuned to defensive players that are underrated and could be targeted in the later rounds in the draft.