Today, I sat down (in front of a computer screen) with Jack Cassidy, Brennen Warner and Ryan Harper to discuss the recent happenings with the Bengals and their offseason direction. Enjoy.
Jack: The popular and easy pick: BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Solid, tough runner who never fumbles and, in my opinion, provides significant improvement to the backfield. The more I read about him, the more I like him. High character, great attitude--I seriously have not seen or heard one bad thing about him. I'm all in on the Law Firm.
Ryan: If I had to choose one player, then it would be running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. I like what he brings to the table. He isn't going to be one of the elite players in the game, but he's still an impact player. He has excellent hands (zero fumbles in his career) and he's also a great pass-blocker. Overall I think he will be a major contributor for the duration of his contract.
Anthony: I like the Green-Ellis signing too. I think I like the Pat Sims re-signing myself. The team REALLY missed him after his injury last year and I was certain that he'd get a starting gig somewhere else.
Brennen: I'm going to go a different direction here and go with Reggie Nelson. He was the Bengals biggest re-signing priority and they got it done. Not only that, but he was strongly pursued by the Jets, and we won that battle! If Nelson hadn't resigned, safety would unquestionably be the biggest need going into the draft, and the replacement levels in FA were't very high either. So glad Reggie re-signed.
Ryan: Green-Ellis is the type of personality the Bengals need on the team....not someone like Benson.
Anthony: Totally. If they were to sign Okoye would that become your favorite signing?
Ryan: It wouldn't become my favorite signing, but it would be in the top three for sure. Plus his name is awesome.
Anthony: Yeah I'd really like Okoye. People lump him in the "bust" category with Jamaal Anderson and Derrick Harvey, but I don't think that's all that fair. He's been a relatively solid player and I think he'd thrive in the Bengals rotation.
Ryan: I agree. I think he would thrive under Mike Zimmer and the Bengals.
Jack: BenJarvus barely edges him out, but its close. I'd love Okoye for this team. What Mike Zimmer did with that defensive line last year was an absolute joy to watch, and adding a talented Okoye to that mix makes them that much stronger. Okoye could make me forget the names Frostee Rucker and Jonathan Fanene...which is something I'd like to do.
Anthony: Speaking of Anderson and Harvey, do you guys think that they'll do well in Cincinnati or continue to be busts?
Jack: With Mike Zimmer at the helm, rule nothing out. You don't get drafted top ten if you're not insanely talented, but sometimes the production doesn't translate and that's what happened with these guys. But can you think of a better coach to take these guys to the next level than Zimmer? He did it with Reggie Nelson, he did it with almost the entire D-line last year, and I'm confident he can do it again. I'm really happy with the Andersen and Harvey signings.
Ryan: I think Anderson has more potential than Harvey. Even though they both haven't done much to this point of their careers, they both still have the ability to thrive, especially in a rotation like the Bengals. Plus staying on the field is vital in this situation. Harvey has missed 12 games the past two seasons while Anderson has only missed one. I think Anderson will benefit more from defensive guru Mike Zimmer.
Anthony: I agree. that they could do really well here, but I find it hard to believe that they'll match the productivity of Rucker and Fanene. I'm basically counting on only one of them to pan out and that is still in a limited fashion.
Jack: If Carlos Dunlap can stay on the field, then they won't have to match the production of Rucker and Fanene for the d-line to be effective. Right now they give depth and solid play, but their potential alone makes their signings worth it.
Brennen: I think they are very interesting acquisitions because of their upside, but I don't expect big things from either of them. I think they can be solid, rotational players in 2012 for Zimmer everything turns out all right. But, I don't think either of them will be a pass-rushing nightmare in the future, nor will they be incredible run-stoppers. It would be a pleasant surprise for me if either one of them can start and play like everyone hoped they would out of college, but I just hope they can contribute in some way. Zimmer will bring their best out out.
Anthony: Who do you think they take in the first round this year?
Brennen: I feel fairly positive that they will get David DeCastro at 17. DeCastro probably wouldn't slide past them here, and I'm getting more and more confident that the other teams 11-17 won't take DeCastro (gut feeling). But, I'm really uncertain who they will take at 21. I'm on board with a WR like Kendall Wright or Michael Floyd at 21, but I think a CB is the more likely position. Either Stephon Gilmore or Dre Kirkpatrick have a very high percentage of ending up on the Bengals.
Ryan: I think it depends on who is available. In all honesty, if David DeCastro is on the board at No. 17 then I think the Bengals have to draft him. He's one of the best offensive linemen in the draft (if not the best) and he helps fill one of the Bengals biggest needs. Cincinnati hasn't done much of anything to address the offensive front line. DeCastro is a monster and I think he could quickly contribute to the Bengals. As for the No. 21 pick I would like to see them pick Stephon Gilmore of South Carolina or Dre Kirkpatrick of Alabama. Both of them would give the Bengals solid depth at corner and a future starter to go opposite of Leon Hall. If this were to happen then I would be pretty content with how they used their two first round picks. I think the Bengals could go after someone like wide receiver Mohamed Sanu in the second or third round. I'm still not on board for taking a receiver in the first round.
Jack: Before the free agency period I would have said without hesitation guard and cornerback, but now that it's clear that the team will head into the draft without a No.2 wideout, I'm not so sure that they won't go with a wide receiver. Of course it depends on who is available, but if Michael Floyd falls to 17 or Alshon Jeffery falls to 21, it would sure be interesting to see what direction they go in. That being said, I still think they go with a guard and cornerback in round one. Final answer: Dre Kirkpatrick at 17 and Cordy Glenn at 21.
Anthony: I won't reveal mine until my mailbag this week.